“Asian” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the Asian population to include people who indicated their race(s) as “Asian”; or who reported entries such as “Asian Indian,” “Chinese,” “Filipino,” “Korean,” “Japanese” or “Vietnamese”; or who provided other detailed Asian responses.
Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian American population increased 43%, and the increase is 46% when mixed Asian identities are included. This rate was faster than any other U.S. racial group.
The stereotype of Asians as a “model minority” (unhampered by the challenges facing other minority and at-risk populations) creates undue pressures and a reluctance among students and families to seek help.
Key Strategies for Inclusion
Build one-on-one relationships, one family at a time. Not all Asian Americans are the same. They come from a vast geographic area that includes many countries, each with a unique history, culture, language and pathway to America. Their faiths range from Jainism to Buddhism to Sikhism to Islam. Most do not respond to the term Oriental.
Address the challenges families face. New refugee, immigrant and non-English speaking students and families face formidable challenges entering schools and communities.
Celebrate unique cultures and traditions. Asian cultural festivals celebrate cultural identities through gathering, food, dance, song, theatre and visual arts. They are one of the most effective ways to meet and build friendships with Asians. Some of these festivals include Vietnamese Tet New Year, Chinese New Year, Hindu Festival of Colors, Japanese Obon or Nihon Matsuri. PTAs also can invite cultural and artistic groups to perform or present at events and conventions.
Make connections with Asian community groups and leaders. Seek out Asian American Chambers of Commerce; some major cities have Chinese Chambers of Commerce. Other places to find leaders and connect with cultural and family events include mosques, Buddhist temples and Christian congregations such as the Korean Presbyterian Church, the Tongan Methodist Church, and others.
Maintain relationships with state and local educational agencies addressing English as a second language (ESL) and discrimination issues. At both state and local levels, PTA leadership must be actively involved with education agencies and bias/sensitivity review panels to address issues of racial, ethnic and religious bias.
Invite Asian American mentors and role modelsto PTA events. There are many accomplished Asian Americans who can serve as role models for students and communities.
KoreAm Journal is a bimonthly magazine of Korean American news and cultural events, including an article on “The Top Five Stand-Alone Asian Museums in America.”
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, formerly the Organization of Chinese Americans, is a national organization dedicated to advancing the social, political and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans.