When good is not good enough

Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – Call it something good, but not good enough.

A recent report showing Asian Americans doing well in a tough U.S.  economy, ironically drew the ire of some Asian American groups.

The Pew Research Center released “The Rise of Asian Americans” last month that generally painted the Asian American community in a positive light.

“Asian Americans are the fastest growing immigrant group in the US, they have the highest-income, and best-educated. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work, and career success,” the report’s executive summary said.

The report went on to point these key statistics:

  • Among new arrivals, more than 60 percent of those ages 25 to 64 have graduated from college.
  • in 2010, Asian Americans (foreign and U.S.-born) earned 45 percent of Ph.D’s, 38 percent of doctorate in match and computer sciences and 33 percent of doctorates in the physical sciences.
  • Household median income was $65,200 compared to $50,000 national average (2010)

A cause for rejoicing then?

Not really, according to the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC).

In a statement, it said that while the report, at first glance looks good, it is misleading and perpetuates the myth of Asian Americans as the “model minority.”

It said the Pew Research report did not look deep enough and “ignores the tremendous social and economic diversity within Asian American communities.”

“Failure to fully recognize the challenges many Asian Americans face means that the educational, economic, and social service needs of America’s fastest growing racial group will not be fully understood or addressed by policy makers,” the AAJC said.

Other Asian American groups echo the AAJC sentiment.

The Asian American Pacific islander Policy and Research Consortium (APPIPRC), issued a statement calling the Pew Research Center report as “too simplistic.”

“The selection of what information to present and highlight was highly biased, and the framing and interpretation of the analysis (were) incomplete and implicitly misleading,” AAIPRC said.

The Pew Research Center report was based on a telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 3,511 Asian Americans conducted from Jan. 3 to March 27, 2012, in English and seven Asian languages.

Researchers also assembled U.S. Census Bureau and government economic data of Asians from India, China, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The report drew widespread coverage in the Asian American media and was the subject of editorials, mostly highlighting the positives.

Cary Funk, a senior research at Pew Research Center, said the object of the report was not to take a stand, but present data as clearly as possible.

“We’re not advocates one way or another, and we’re not in the business of trying to tell people what to think about this information” Funk told Colorlines.com.

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