Wednesday, February 28, 2007

AsianWeek Apologizes Following Racist Column Controversy

The San Francisco-based newspaper, AsianWeek, on its website today issued an apology and a rejection of the "biased views" of its columnist, Kenneth Eng, following the wide condemnation of his article, "Why I Hate Blacks".

The paper further announced the author's firing and promised a review of the editorial processes that let the article be published. The paper is reported to be planning a town hall-style meeting in San Francisco in the near future.

More on the apology and Kenneth Eng controversy.

Job: Clinical Counselor Working with APA Students (IL)

Head's up on featured opportunity at IMDiversity AAV:

Clinical Counselor Working with APA Students (IL)
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Deadline: March 9, 2007


Doctorate in Clinical, Clinical/Community, or Counseling Psychology, or Masters in Social Work is required.
2. Demonstrated interest, expertise, and experience in clinical and outreach work with Asian American students are required.
3. Demonstrated competence in multicultural programming and multicultural clinical work is required.
4. Demonstrated ability to function at a high level as a generalist counselor in a setting with both diverse clients and staff colleagues is required.
5. License in Illinois or license-eligible background as a psychologist or clinical social worker is required.
6. Previous experience in a college counseling center is preferred, but not required.

Conditions:1. Starting Date: August 1, 2007 or mutually acceptable date.

More details

Asians in Medical Professions vs. the Executive Suite

While rennovating and expanding the IMDiversity Healthcare Industry Careers Channel, the editors stumbled across a few sobering stats about barriers to advancement for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in a field where, stereotypically, one might least expect it.

According to a 2003 aggregate report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Asian Americans were in some sense "over-represented" in the healthcare field. Asian Americans constituted 5.2 percent of the total Healthcare and Social Assistance workforce, and 7.7 percent of "Professional" positions (including doctors, dentists, nurses, etc.), according to the report. At 4-point-something percent of the U.S. population in 2003, these figures are not too shabby, and seem to give evidence to the idea that we are "doing well," playing a leading role in this all-important, fastest-growing industry.

Chalk it up to what you will -- whether a high number of Indian, Chinese and Filipino doctors, nurses and researchers admitted to help ease the U.S. healthcare worker shortage on special visas, or simply intense parental pressure to be a doctors ... ;-)

However, a closer look at the next column shows that Asian Americans held only 3.0 percent of the "Officials & Managers" positions. Think, the hospital administrators and clinic managers, the behind the scenes and office positions, perhaps the heads of private labs ... or medical school research centers.

For all other minority groups, the percentages holding Professional positions and Official/Management positions were virtually identical.

This seems to make the healthcare profession consistent with other technical fields where a glass ceiling exists. Asians are presumed compentent and hard-working, skilled and highly educated, but perhaps not possessing the stuff of enjoying the fruits of their contributions in management at the top-levels.

One result is that many organizations, scholarships, and official initiatives established to create a measure of equity for minorities in the profession do not include Asians. We may in the aggregate excel at serving as doctors and nurses and technicians. Yet, as important and worthy as these occupations may be, additional research is needed. First, clear disparities in the quality of healthcare exist along ethnic lines, and this goes for Asian Americans as well. This seems counterintuitive; one would think with all those Asian doctors and nurses toiling away out there, Asian Americans would be receiving fantastic, culturally-targeted, in-language medical care more than most groups. But research into the dearth of Asian Americans who are decision-makers and purse-string holders in the management offices of the industry may point the way new kinds of access, research and attention to the benefit of Asian Americans' healthcare.

On a final note: The research into the representation of Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians in the industry is releatively new, and the subject for another day. However, already, it's clear that the disparities are even more pronounced in this group -- in terms of both access to the best healthcare and representation in the professions.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Pipa Sensation Yang Wei

I have fallen completely in love with the pipa, the Chinese lute. The pipa is a stringed instrument that originated in the Middle East as the oud and has existed in China since the Qin Dynasty, 221-207 BC. It is now becoming a “world instrument” like violin or piano.

I recently heard pipa performed as the centerpiece of theatrical dream team Bright Sheng, David Henry Hwang, and Ong Keng Sen's musical theatre opera, The Silver River, at the University of Michigan.

Then pipa virtuoso, Yang Wei, came to the University of Michigan as an artist-in-residence for two weeks and I went to hear him perform and speak four times! Mr. Yang is an incredible musician and a charming person, peppering his performances of classical Chinese, contemporary Chinese, and Western music (Home on the Range, Oh Susanna “...with a pipa on my knee”) with stories about coming to America from Shanghai, drawing parallels between learning pipa and learning English (and how to drive).

Yang Wei is also part of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project which has “a vision of connecting the world’s neighborhoods by bringing together artists and audiences around the globe. Inspired by the cultural traditions of the historic Silk Road, the Silk Road Project is a catalyst promoting innovation and learning through the arts.” This is not just explorations of the traditional instruments and traditional music, but also exciting new collaborations between many of these instruments and musical traditions.

Chicago is the first city in the world to collaborate in a year-long partnership with The Silk Road Project, including performances, master classes, workshops and educational programs featuring Yo-Yo Ma and other Silk Road Ensemble members.

Check out the videos of the Silk Road Ensemble in action on Yang Wei’s website, and try to catch them in one of their upcoming concerts. They are so cool.

Monday, February 05, 2007

More Buzz: APAs and a Dem Weekend

Asian American activists of all stripes gathered in MD suburbs this past weekend for a series of events coinciding with the Dem-fest in DC.

Attending were folks representing national grassroots organizations such as APAs for Progress and Real Americans for Democracy (a next-gen project rising from the success of "macaca-slayers" Real Virginians for Webb), PACs like the Asian American Action Fund, as well as APA staffers from campaigns and Congressional offices, those who had worked APIA outreach for the DNC, and folks from ethnic media and local community service organizations.

In addition to buzzing about the field of new Presidential candidates and debriefing from the midterms, the series of meetings provided an opportunity for a highly energized and diverse body of Asian Americans to network, weigh future cooperative projects, and discuss problems and priorities in the community.

Although as diverse a bunch as you could find -- style, region, ethnicity, age, profession -- I overheard some common themes in the group buzz.

  • One was a general sense that the Democratic Party has taken a demonstrable turn in the last couple of elections, paying more attention to APAs and expanding opportunities for them to be involved at multiple levels of the Party.
  • Another was that this investment has demonstrably paid off, and it is likely that efforts to outreach to APA constiuencies will probably see continued, increased support in the Party moving forward. We'll probably see more Asian faces at the conventions, on staffs, and out there stumping and canvassing.
  • A third was that the midterms saw an increasing number of dedicated APAs, especially younger people, gaining valuable field experience and becoming engaged in campaigns and GOTV at a deeper level than in the past, and as a result...
  • Asian Americans may still be far away from having a big umbrella organization like a La Raza or NAACP, but building coalition and cooperation seems to be a common interest among disparate activist groups intrested in affecting elections. (On a related note, see the coincidental release by the new 80-20 Initiative board this weekend, too.)

And what did the group have to say about the candidates? I can't say a consensus favorite emerged this weekend, but on one thing everyone seemed to agree: Asian Americans are looking for Bill Richardson to address The Wen Ho Lee issue, and it probably won't be comfortable for him.

More later...

Buzz: Changing of the Guard at 80-20

After years with founding President S.B. Woo at the helm, the 80-20 Initiative and PAC -- a national organization dedicated to creating an Asian American swing vote through promoting a bloc-voting strategy -- is seeing a wave new faces on its executive committee and board of officers. The organization's new President, Kathleen To, announced the leadership changes in a release circulated on February 3.

The message also acknowledges that Woo (who was term-limited out as 80-20 president this year) leaves some very big shoes to fill. (Woo has said he will continue to play a role in the organization, possibly focusing on a recently developed education foundation project.) Indeed, To will face some challenges as she takes the helm of an organization that has been so closely aligned with the name of the founder. This identification with Woo has created some obstacles for 80-20 in its past efforts to build multipartisan coalition. Although 80-20's decision-making committees are constituted of equal numbers of Democrats, Republicans and independents, Republicans who failed to win the organization's consensus endorsements have routinely accused it of partisanship because Woo had been a Democrat when he served as Lt. Governor of Delaware.

The new leadership change, then, can provide a good opportunity for 80-20 to put some distance between itself and these charges, and to strike out in some new directions, too. The message from To suggests that a key goal is "to reach out and co-operate with all other Asian American organizations, [and] reach out to our Congressional Delegations."

For a time 80-20 was regarded as the only national, pan-Asian political action organization of note that could provide formal endorsements, it got a reputation for going things its own way and not really working in coalition with other organizations who were also dedicated to community concerns, voter participation, and so forth. Further, in its early years, 80-20 had reserved its endorsements and member energies exclusively for presidential races, generally shying from Congressional or gubernatorial races and leaving midterm elections alone.

Beginning last year, however, 80-20's consensus focus on combating glass ceiling discrimination through Congressional hearings gave it an opportunity to weigh in on midterm races, and it received high-level attention on the issue from the new DNC chair Howard Dean.

The new board will be holding its annual meeting in Washington DC in April. We will likely see some more announcements of new directions and deals then.