1.07.2013

Bigotry + Conservative Economic Policy = Defeat

From Scot Nakagawa:
Racism for money is the worst kind of bigotry. It makes [Bill] O’Reilly a tempting target, but I just don’t like to feed the beast. However, the rant about the liberalism of Asian Americans...deserves comment.

O’Reilly is promoting the lie that Asian Americans are, perhaps by “culture” or some other such non-existent shared characteristic, unusually hard working, and that hard working people are generally conservative. Hence Asian Americans should be conservative rather than liberal. It’s an exercise in myth making and illogical reasoning, but in this exercise he’s not alone. In fact, it’s a major tenet of conservative racial thought. And the fact that so many across the political spectrum buy into this belief makes it an extremely effective weapon in their war against the so-called “takers,” by which they mean just about all of us.

So, here’s my response. First, Asian Americans are no more or less hard working than anyone else in the U.S. Saying we are denigrates Americans in general, especially those that conservatives have suggested lean toward liberalism because we are “takers” rather than “makers,” a belief that is at the foundation of Mitt Romney’s disparaging comments about the 47%. The reality is that American workers put in more hours per year, take fewer days off, and are more productive than our European counterparts. In fact, some suggest that Americans are not just hard working but overworked, leading to a decline in the quality of family and community life that is evident all around us.

And there is no correlation between liberalism and laziness. The most reliably liberal voters in the U.S. are Jews, African Americans, and Latinos. To suggest that Jews, Blacks, and Latinos aren’t hard working is ridiculous. One is left wondering if Mr. O’Reilly and his cohorts know anything at all about the history of this nation, much less the contemporary demographics in factories, farms and food processing and packaging plants all across the country where the more onerous jobs, the browner the ranks of workers.

Another group more likely to lean liberal are women, especially single women heads of households. To suggest they aren’t hard working is just sexist misinformation.

But it serves the agenda of conservatives to laud the supposed industriousness of Asian Americans in order to disparage the work ethics of those who, by race or class, suffer from higher rates of poverty. It suggests that our work ethics and not the cumulative impact of historical injustices and public policy are to blame for social and economic inequities.

So let’s take this myth that Asian Americans are harder working than others apart. Asian Americans have the highest median household incomes among Americans grouped by race. But whites have higher per capita incomes than Asian Americans. Put those two facts together, and the reality that many Asian American households don’t fit the nuclear family profile may be more a factor in our relative success than our supposedly strong work ethic.

Those higher family incomes may include the social security benefits of grandparents who may also be depending on Medicare and/or Medicaid. That in turn might start to explain our relative liberalism. Combine that with the repellant effect of conservative attacks on benefits we’ve earned through lifetimes of investment, not to mention the racism and xenophobia of so many prominent conservative leaders (like Mr. O’Reilly), and the fact that over 70% of Asian Americans voters chose against the Republican in the presidential race looks less like an anomaly and more like simple math, as in bigotry + conservative economic policy = defeat.

So, no, I don’t like giving Bill O’Reilly the attention on which he so obviously thrives, but in this case, I had to make an exception. This myth of Asian American exceptionalism is not just an attack on Asian Americans. It’s an attack on all of us.
*cue thundering applause*

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26 comments:

  1. Yeah, it's that old "model minority" shtick that conservatives love to employ for race-baiting.

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    1. I just want to make note of a mistake here. Nakagawa states that Asian Americans have lower per capita incomes than whites, but that's not correct. In fact, Asian men and women have higher median personal incomes than their white counterparts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_income_in_the_United_States#Over_time.2C_by_race_and_sex). However, one has to take into account the fact that Asian Americans tend to have higher educational qualifications than whites as well. Also, note that African American women have a higher median personal income than white women.

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    2. If we were to compare the incomes of Asians to whites of equal educational level, what would we find? What about controlling for geography? I believe PoC tend to live in areas with higher costs of living.

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    3. Comparing Asians and whites of equal education levels, I'd venture to guess that whites still have the upper hand as the Wikipedia link I provided would suggest (among holders of graduate degrees whites have the highest median personal income). Basically, at some point in their professional careers Asian Americans (and Asians in the West in general) come up against what is characterised as the "bamboo ceiling", which suppresses their earning potential.

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    4. However, one has to take into account the fact that Asian Americans tend to have higher educational qualifications than whites as well.

      Actually Asian households, as I recall, have higher income levels because more people in the house hold are generating revenue.

      http://blasiannarrative.blogspot.com/2010/12/analyzing-myth-of-asian-american-income.html

      When you break it down to personal income levels, Asians make less money than whites.

      Also, note that African American women have a higher median personal income than white women.

      We most certainly do. We work longer hours, we're willing to have second and third jobs on the side, and we're less likely to quit our jobs to raise kids full time (we don't have the luxury). Like with the Asians, it's not about quality, but quantity. A white woman with the same education levels and career as a black woman will earn more. The black woman catches up/surpasses when she takes an extra job, or the white woman quits to be mother full-time.

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    5. Ankhesen, check out that Wikipedia page I provided. By the year 2000, both Asian men and Asian women had overtaken their white counterparts in median personal income. Of course, the data provided Wikipedia only goes up to the year 2004, but if the trend holds we should expect Asian men and women to continue to have higher median personal incomes than their white counterparts today.

      But that Abagond guy seems to confirm my suspicions earlier: for the same level of education, whites still have the edge over Asians.

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    6. Of they do. This is their system, and while pushing the model minority myth serves their purpose, they'll only allow it to a certain extend. Asians eventually hit the glass ceiling just like everybody else.

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  3. Race-manipulation at it worst. Don't the Right get it? It's over. Asian and Latino voters have made their voices heard into who they want as our president. It is what it is and they still trying to use people..get over it already!

    As I mentioned before in a different post, I can understand why most Asians don't like the " Model Minority" title because if you don't read the fine lines in it, it will throw you off. In the natural, being called " Hard-working" or being " good-natured" are adjectives that don't offend people,but with the GOP and other racist people, it is used to as an attempt to use them . They still don't want to believe that Asians aren't the pushovers they wish for them to be.

    I also liked what one Asian girl said on a blog. She said that one thing that irks is how people like Bill O'Reilly does this with Asian people. One of the things she discussed " Asian vs Asian" in terms of income. She was saying how some Asians like Vietnamese, Laos, or Cambodia aren't as financially prosperous like people like Japan, Korean or China and how not all Asians are equal in terms of the Model minority myth in terms of income and how they are treated. When it comes to this, you have toe divide and divide until you can come up with a valid answer to the question.

    Bill O'Reilly and company world love for Asians to think that they love and accept the Asian community with open arms,but who are they kidding? Notice how they always focus..as I've mentioned on here.. on Japan,Korea and China to some degree. You don't hear them discuss the countries I've mentioned on the first go round. As many people and other have said on here, this isn't about being accepting of another race/culture of people, it's about pure , unadulterated manipulation. It always been about them not wanting to embrace others, only focusing on what someones country can offer them in terms of resources and to further empower their racist agenda.

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  4. No doubt there will be some whites claiming we are being oversensitive. "These are compliments." There are two problems with "positive" stereotypes.

    First, these "positive" stereotypes come with very, very negative stereotypes. Yeah, whites think we are smart, but they also think we're nerdy, small-dicked gay wife beaters and treat us accordingly.

    Second, the notion of a "positive" stereotype is arguable. Notice how whites do not suffer from any MAINSTREAM stereotypes supported by american culture. They get to be individuals. They don't have to represent their group, nor are they affected by the actions of others in their group. Imagine if the Sandy Hook shooter was any race but white.

    Whites will bitch and moan claiming they're stereotyped just like People of Color. Their evidence: "whites are stereotyped as cheeseburger lovers." Yeah, that's equivalent (desperately in need of a sarcasm font). Or the ever popular claim that whites are stereotyped as racist. First of all, ironically, Asians are the ones actually stereotyped as racist. Second, are they seriously attempting to claim that whites are stereotyped as racists when white protagonists in the media are never portrayed as racists? If that was a real stereotype, whites would have internalized it, and since it currently is considered a personality flaw, they would actually feel bad about themselves instead of constantly thinking they're god's gift to the world.

    But I digress, People of Color are stereotyped because we are considered to be simple, one-dimensional, easily predictable creatures. Whites, in contrast, are seen as unique, complex individuals who cannot be stereotyped. And before any whites accuse me of undermining my own position because I am a "reverse-racist stereotyping whites." (1) When I say whites, I don't mean every single white person who ever existed. (2) I am NOT claiming that there is something intrinsically flawed with whites. (3) My conclusions are based on logic and facts. (4) My words are not, and will never be, part of mainstream american culture. Even if we assumed I was stereotyping whites, objectively and demonstrably, whites are NOT stereotyped by american society as a whole.

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    1. (1) When I say whites, I don't mean every single white person who ever existed.

      Alas, but you're saying something negative about whites period, which is a huge no-no.

      (2) I am NOT claiming that there is something intrinsically flawed with whites.

      To point out such a flaw in whites is claim they were born that way. Didn't you know????

      (3) My conclusions are based on logic and facts.

      Ah, yes...but their feelings and self-perception are more important than logic and facts.

      (4) My words are not, and will never be, part of mainstream american culture. Even if we assumed I was stereotyping whites, objectively and demonstrably, whites are NOT stereotyped by american society as a whole.

      Oh, but sure it they are! Just not in a way that negatively impacts them.

      (desperately in need of a sarcasm font)

      You ain't neva lied.

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  5. I've been digging around a bit out of curiosity and I just found something interesting:

    Intermarriage and earnings. Couples formed between an Asian husband and a white wife topped the median earning list among all newlyweds in 2008-2010 ($71,800). During this period, white male newlyweds who married Asian, Hispanic or black spouses had higher combined earnings than did white male newlyweds who married a white spouse. As for white female newlyweds, those who married a Hispanic or black husband had somewhat lower combined earnings than those who “married in,” while those who married an Asian husband had significantly higher combined earnings.

    http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/02/16/the-rise-of-intermarriage/1/

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    1. Interesting indeed.

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    2. A while back, there was a study about race and dating. In a nutshell, they found that in order to convince the average white american woman to just date an Asian man, he has to make at least $250,000 more than a comparable white man. That's $250,000 PLUS the white man's salary. I'm guessing a little bit of that is going on these statistics. The discrepancy between the $250,000+white man's salary and the $71,800 figures can probably be explained by the fact that a white woman who actually dates then marries an Asian man is far from average.

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    3. As usual, ballisto nails it.

      I actually remember the study you're referring to and know it well. And you're right; a white woman's not trying to date your average Asian guy. He has to be rich, and fame also helps.

      The Asian men I've seen in real life who date/marry white women are usually rich or at least fairly well off. My friend Ally (whom some of you know as "Dabo Queen" on my blog Dark & Twisty) is white woman who used to work on the same floor as a law firm. She often told me of this strikingly gorgeous, six-foot-two Japanese (American) lawyer named Nick. Nick was raking in some serious dough and he was married to a long-legged blonde. Whenever Ally and I would get together she would talk about Nick's train wreck marriage, how verbally abusive his wife was, and how he would complain on the elevator that she was always off traveling somewhere and rarely ever home. When I asked Ally why he didn't just divorce her, she said she'd asked him the same thing. He was in love, and he couldn't leave her.

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    4. Ank, Do you think it was also a status symbol thing also? The fact that he had the "ideal" woman. My guess is she had someone on the side helping her spend his money.

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    5. @ You know, I think it was in part a "requirement" thing. Like something he felt he just needed to do/have in his life as requisite for success. Maybe being married to her helped further his career.

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    6. Ballisto, I remember the study you're referring to, too. I also remember another report that is basically a variation on the same theme: i.e. Asian men who marry white women tend to marry way down in terms of educational qualifications. However, I don't think that Pew study follows along the same lines. For example, go to that site and check out how much Asian-Asian couples make relative to other pairings.

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    7. I also remember another report that is basically a variation on the same theme: i.e. Asian men who marry white women tend to marry way down in terms of educational qualifications.

      Really? Do you have links for that?

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    8. I just Googled around a bit, and after skimming through the results it seems that white women who marry Asian men tend to be well educated, and I would assume that the men and women in such pairings are more or less evenly matched in educational achlevements. So go figure... I couldn't find any formal academic studies on this topic, though.

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    9. Another thought just came to me... I wonder how many of the "white" women who marry Asian men are actually Jewish.

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  6. I have an additional theory about the purpose of the model minority myth. Besides being a weapon against other People of Color, the model minority myth is also a weapon against Asians. It convinces people to resent Asians and direct their frustrations with racism toward Asians instead of the real culprit, whites. In effect, whites are attempting to turn Asians into a scapegoat, a whipping boy, a patsy, a fall guy.

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    1. It most certainly is a weapon. If you browse more of Abagond's Asian-centric articles, you'll notice the blatant anti-Asian sentiment spewing from commenters of all races.

      And for folks who wonder why Asians are singled out as THE model minority (Jews and Africans are the others), I believe it has to do with view. Your average American has a national view; they concentrate on what goes on within these borders, and that's it.

      The racist system currently in place, however, has a global view, and in that global view, Asians and their massive population are an obvious threat. So if you train Americans to hate Asians, they won't travel to Asia, they won't marry and breed with Asians (thereby creating yet more), and if America causes harm to any Asian country, Americans will be less likely to speak out in that country's defense.

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    2. I agree with what you've said here, Ankh. One of the frustrations I have with the POC struggle is that the people fighting for racial equality/justice usually are only concerned with race relations within the narrow framework of their own countries. This is deeply flawed in my opinion because I believe the racism found within countries is largely a function of global geopolitics.

      In other words, African-Americans, for example, are regarded with contempt by white people because historically Africa has been a playground for the white man. And white people everywhere have been able to maintain the illusion of their inherent superiority over the other races because white people have in fact been dominating global politics and economics.

      Things are starting to change, though. As Asia and Africa have risen, white people have become insecure about their place in the world. Now they're trying to defend the power structures that have served them so well. For example, the G7 is being replaced by the G20 not because white people have become enlightened and want to be more inclusive,but because they want to ensure that power will not be concentrated in the hands of a few in a world that they no longer dominate.

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    3. As usual, you say it better than I ever could.

      This has been an excellent discussion, folks. Keep it going.

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