Are Asian Americans a minority?
USC has come a long way in diversifying the student body. According to Amanda Pillon’s article on April 8, “Admissions more selective than ever,” the ethnic makeup of the class of 2014 has increased from the year prior to being 20 percent “minorities.”
I bet you are asking why I put “minorities” in quotation marks. After reading the article, I noticed that a major racial category was left out of who is considered a “minority.” Asian Americans were not included in the 20 percent of admitted students that identified themselves as a “minority,” which included “African Americans, Latino, Native American [and] Pacific Islanders.” Why are we left out as being identified minorities? Some might argue that there is a large population of Asian Americans on this campus, there are other marginalized and underrepresented communities, or even that Asians make up the majority in the world. To this I have to call shenanigans.
Asian Americans have suffered years of discrimination and degradation from the Naturalization Act of 1870, which expanded citizenship to African Americans but excluded Asian immigrants; the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which effectively barred Chinese from entering the United States; the California Alien Land Laws of 1913, which denied “aliens ineligible for citizenship” to own land; the Asian Exclusion Act of 1924, which prohibited East Asians and South Asians the right to own land or achieve naturalized citizenship; the Tydings-McDuffe Act of 1934, which severely restricted Filipino immigration to the United States after 39 years of American colonization; and Japanese American internment during World War II. Still making up roughly 5 percent of the US. population according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Asian Americans are a minority in this country.
If the word “minority” was to mean underrepresented communities, then also I have to take issue with that. Although Chinese Americans, Korean Americans, Indian Americans and Japanese Americans make up the bulk of the Asian American community at USC, students of Southeast Asian descent that should be considered “underrepresented,” such as Vietnamese, Cambodians, Hmong, Laotians, Thai and Filipinos, as well as other South Asian Americans, such as Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankans, are left out and enveloped into the larger groups when it comes to aid and recognition.
I don’t aim to degrade the status of increasing diversity within these other groups as entering freshmen. I applaud the efforts of USC reaching out to all communities. The issue here is that we as Asian Americans are seen as the invisible minority.
Asian Americans are seen as successful economically and in education, which in effect leads to the notion that Asian Americans are either not really a minority or even as “honorary whites.” Because of that, Asian Americans are left out of the discussion in regards to many pertinent social issues, such as immigration, discrimination and poverty. I have seen the progress of the Asian American community, whether it be in government, the media or academia. But this lack of recognition proves that there is a long way to go in including Asian Americans in these dialogues. We are here and we want to be equally heard.
Junior, Business Administration
President, Student Coalition for Asian Pacific Empowerment