When Words Fail: Careful Framing Needed in Research on Asian Americans

https://twitter.com/karthickr/status/218073749835100163

Karthick Ramakrishnan published his commentary about the Pew report on Asian Americans on Hyphen’s website. Karthick is associate professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside, and fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC.

Sometimes, a two-page press release can have greater impact on race relations in the United States than an entire report. That certainly seemed to be the case last week, when the Pew Research Center put out a 215-page report on the growing importance of Asian Americans.

The report had many commendable aspects, including presenting new data on the six largest Asian American groups, adding to our knowledge from past demographic studies and surveys. It presented a trove of graphs, maps, and tables for the largest national-origin groups. Unfortunately, it also prioritized questions asked of Asian Americans — regarding their parenting styles and their own stereotypes about Americans — that seemed more concerned with Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother than with the priorities of Asian Americans themselves, either as revealed in past surveys or as articulated by organizations serving those communities. And the demographic analysis did not adequately cover national origin groups whose economic outcomes are far less promising.

More concerning than the Pew report, however, was the sensationalist headline on the press release that introduced the study to news media …

Read Karthick’s full commentary on hyphenmagazine.com.

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