NCAPA on Pew Research Report: Let’s Move Beyond ‘One-Dimensional Narratives’

The following is text from a statement issued today (PDF) by NCAPA:

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) is concerned about the framing of the findings from today’s report, The Rise of Asian Americans, from the Pew Research Center.

While we commend the Pew Research Center for taking on this important research, we believe that additional research and analysis must be conducted to more fully understand the complexities of the nation’s diverse Asian American communities, our experiences and our challenges.

The Pew study, which has received wide media attention, could lead some to draw conclusions that reflect inaccurate stereotypes about Asian Americans being a community with high levels of achievement and few challenges. While it is certainly important to highlight the accomplishments of segments of Asian Americans, it is also critical to understand that the community is not monolithic.

Our organizations work closely with Asian Americans around the country and connect with policymakers and stakeholders about our communities’ needs. In NCAPA’s 2012 Policy Blueprint for Action, we identify a number of gaps that face our community members on issues that matter to all Americans.

For example, when it comes to educational attainment, certain subgroups of Asian Americans, such as Cambodians and Bangladeshis, have greater difficulties accessing and thriving in the school system. According to the American Community Survey, from 2002 to 2010, the number of Asian Americans in poverty has increased by 46%. Studies show that more than 2.3 million Asian Americans are uninsured.

And, despite the Pew report’s conclusion that racial discrimination is not a priority issue for Asian Americans, we know that our communities are facing civil rights violations ranging from profiling to employment discrimination.

The Pew Research Center’s study is an important conversation starter, but it should be balanced with a comprehensive understanding of community-based needs and concerns facing Asian Americans.

We must acknowledge that there are a wide range of issues and concerns related to the economy, civil rights, and immigration that are on the minds of our communities.

We need to move beyond one-dimensional narratives of exceptionalism about Asian Americans in order to better understand and address the diverse experiences facing our community members.

NCAPA is committed to collaborating with researchers and policymakers to ensure that accurate and balanced information is provided about Asian American communities.

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), founded in 1996, is a coalition of 30 Asian Pacific American organizations around the country. NCAPA serves to represent the interests of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities and to provide a national voice on policy issues and priorities. More information about NCAPA is available at For information about this statement or NCAPA, please contact Deepa Iyer, NCAPA Chair, at 301-270-1855 or email