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Desai: Bigger Voice for Asians Needed in US Society




A group of newly natualized U.S. citizens say the Pledge of Allegiance after taking their Oath of Allegiance at Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, on Sept. 20, 2010. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

A group of newly natualized U.S. citizens say the Pledge of Allegiance after taking their Oath of Allegiance at Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, on Sept. 20, 2010. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

The Pew Research Center recently released a study, The Rise of Asian Americans, which shows that the number of new Asian immigrants to the United States has overtaken the number of Latinos. The study adds that "the recent Asian arrivals [are] the most highly educated cohort of immigrants in U.S. history," with more than 60 percent of adults aged 25 to 64 holding a bachelor's degree or higher. They are also wealthier than the general U.S. population, with a median household income of $66,000 — the national median is $49,800.

Despite these achievements, an Asia Society study shows fewer Asian Pacific Americans (APA) in leadership positions in corporations and politics, as a percentage of the ethnicity's total. The 2012 study found that less than half of Asian Americans feel a sense of belonging to their corporate culture, with one reason being a lack of APAs in upper management.

Sharon Pain Chan of The Seattle Times took the report's release to highlight a similar dichotomy in the political sphere. She points out that the Asian American vote has mostly been overlooked by the media in stories about Latino and African American voters.

Noting these disparities, Asia Society President Vishakha Desai says the Pew findings prove Asians must take a more visible role in American society.

“Given that most immigration debates have so far focused on the Latino population, and that presidential election discussions are full of talk of the potential of the Latino swing voters, it seems counter-intuitive that Asians outnumber Latinos in their desire to come to this country and also happen to be the most educated, and most highly paid minorities," Desai said.

"On the face of these findings, now already three years old, we should expect to have a bigger voice for Asian Americans in American politics and indeed in American society. Even in the corporate world, Asian Americans are seen as highly successful, with more advanced degrees than all other ethnic groups. And yet, as a recent Asia Society survey suggests, Asian Americans continue to be in very short supply when it comes to leadership positions.

"In other words, Asian Americans have all the traditional American qualities, including a drive to succeed, work ethic, and an optimistic sense of the future. So why is it that they remain a 'hidden' minority when it comes to visibility in American political or corporate life? It's time that diverse Asian American communities, often more focused on their own ethnic groups than strategic alliances across various cultural dividing lines, come together to create a focused plan to increase their role in this new American world."

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