International politics in the Asian American Data Disaggregation Debate

Yesterday, I had an online discussion with Professor Oiyan Poon and Giles Li about the ongoing controversy regarding Asian American data disaggregation.  As we know, to be an “Asian” includes an extremely diverse group of peoples with a wide range of histories.  Asian Americans will not only inherit that same diversity and complex history but also add a more diverse history on the context of their immigration.  Just one small immigration sub-group like Taiwanese Americans will have a different socio economic class depending on whether their family history came to the US for graduate school after the Chinese Exclusion act was repealed or if they fled Taiwan in 1979 fearing war and coming as non-English speaking immigrants.

As the discussion progressed, I learned that the group which was most against data disaggregation were Chinese immigrants from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) who were extremely nationalistic and predominately wealthy.  Their motivation was supposedly based on their selfish concern over their interests being violated by affirmative action.

Data disaggregation would start to categorize Asian Americans in to smaller categories such as Khmer, Hmong, Vietnamese, Japanese, Filipino, Samoan, Hawaiian, Korean, etc. This would allow for immigrant groups who suffered more economic disadvantages to partake in the social programs designed for those who suffered these disadvantages rather than being categorized with wealthier east Asian groups.  Now why would wealthy people begrudge that?  It didn’t make sense to me.  Wealthy people from those groups don’t even partake in these programs, why would they care if others do?

Then Professor John Cheng reminded me of one more group that would get disaggregated which might offend PRC patriots.  Taiwanese Americans would be counted separately from Chinese Americans.

Ah ha!!!

As we know, the PRC is currently threatening to go to war to “recover Taiwan.”  Yet, Taiwan has a vibrant democracy voting in a female president and taking steps towards marriage equality usually unheard of in most Asian societies.  For Taiwanese Americans to be counted separately from the Chinese American demographic would affirm one more reality that the Taiwanese identity is a distinct separate identity.

This sense of Chinese nationalism may be one of the primary reasons for the resistance to data disaggregation for Asian Americans.  As we know, this kind of resistance is not reflective of reality.  As a society that supports self determination and self identity, data disaggregation of Asian Americans will let people further understand the diversity of the Asian American experience.

Let us not let pressure from another nation’s desire to conquer other territories interfere with how we in the United States execute our domestic policy.



Water guns can lead to…

So Baltimore city is reaching a record high number of 159 homicides for 2017.  As a city biker, I had always thought the most dangerous thing to avoid were cars and trucks on the streets.  For 15 years, I have mapped the safest routes to bike to avoid heavy traffic.

Unfortunately, the concern of safety in Baltimore city has now forced me to add a new factor in the safety equation.  Just yesterday, in my normal route on Gough St, I cut through Perkin’s homes.  While biking there, a group of kids with water guns tried to block my path and sprayed me continuously with water guns.  Being an extremely hot time around 5PM, the water actually felt really good since I was overheating.

My instinct was to not to escalate the situation so I quickly thanked them for cooling me down.  Having not gotten the response they neither wanted or expected, they stopped shooting me with water guns.

After further reflection, thinking about the anger in the city and the terrible murder rate, I realize that being an outsider in many of these communities unfortunately makes me a target of their frustrations.  My new bike route calculation must now bike along roads that actually have more traffic, yet still has a safe route to move.

Thus is life…


Rerouting my bike ride home…

BLAM! BLAM! ….  pow pow POW! BLAM!!!

Gunshots echo across Perkins Homes as I was about to go down Gough Street on my commute home.  Maybe a dozen kids start running away from the center of the projects.  My first instinct is to grab my phone and call 911, but my survival instincts tell me to turn my bike around.   I hear a cry out of a woman in pain and have a moment of indecision.  Should I continue down Gough St and see if I could be of some help?  Then a flash back of my previous run in with kids having guns in Baltimore city and I accept my helplessness as an Asian American outsider.

Frozen, at the corner of Broadway and Gough, I come to the conclusion to reroute up Broadway ironically down Baltimore St to avoid the danger.  As I coast down Baltimore St, the Police helicopter flies above and I hear the police siren wail…

Just another hot (feels like 106 F) evening in Baltimore.


Wild wild city known as Bmore

So last night, again I had the unfortunate experience of young black kids with nothing better to do seeking to take my bike.  After last year’s experience of some kids throwing a sledge hammer at me in an attempt to take my bike during my evening commute, 4 kids tried to again take my bike.

It seems, their strategy is to put fear in the biking commuter.  Biking up St. Pauls St right by Penn Station, one kid wearing a ski-mask tried to unsuccessfully push me off balance while biking in the opposite direction of me.  I use a relatively heavy mountain bike in the streets of the city so his feeble push did not move me much.  The next thing I saw was a child putting a black hand gun he was waiving into his belt to try to throw me off mentally.  I identified it as a black bb gun designed to look realistic.  Also, having been held up in my past by a real hand gun, it looked way too light to be a real gun, but it definitely held my attention.

Then the actual kid that wanted to take my bike jumped off his bike and tried to push me off my bike and shouted “get off the bike” and tried to strike me on my head.  He hit my bike helmet and I believe his hand must have hurt though I felt nothing through the helmet.  His buddy asked him “are you all right?” as he went back to his bike.

I shouted “Don’t you guys have anything better to do?” in an authoritative voice!  Three of the boys immediately took off and the one that struck me got on his bike and tried to bike off.  I saw him fall off his broke down bike about 100 yards away and looked to be in a panic to get his bike to move again.

I stopped for a few seconds trying to decide what to do.  Should I make chase and have the police catch them so that they get put in juvenile detention and continue to go down the spiral of violence and crime?  Or should I catch up to the kid that struck me and try to talk to him and try to convince him there are better things to do than to try and steal bikes from evening commuters.

In the end, accepting my inability to shift this particular situation, I chose to just shrug my shoulders at the imbalance in the world and bike on.

Lunar New Year 2016 just began, and the mischievous monkey has shown its naughty face reminding us to be mindful and aware every where we go.