media coverage

U.S. Marine’s Son Wins Okinawa Election – Alexis Dudden Featured

By Motoko Rich
Sept. 30, 2018

 TOKYO — Denny Tamaki, the son of a Japanese mother and a United States Marine, became the first mixed-race governor in Japan on Sunday after winning a close election in Okinawa, a southern archipelago heavily populated by American military installations.

His victory poses a setback to plans by the Japanese government and the United States to transfer a busy Marine air base on Okinawa from the city of Ginowan to a less populated coastal area on the island.

Mr. Tamaki wants the base moved out of Okinawa altogether. His opponent, Atsushi Sakima, who was backed by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was until recently the mayor of Ginowan and supported the base’s transfer.

Featured later in the article: “It all helps broaden the discussion of what it means to be Japanese,” said Alexis Dudden, a professor at the University of Connecticut who specializes in the modern history of Japan. “And it broadens the reality of being Japanese, at a time when some voices would have a very old-fashioned notion of Japanese ethnicity.”

Read more of the New York Times article here

Chino: The History of Chinese Migrants in Mexico

Jason Chang is the author of Chino: Anti-Chinese Racism in Mexico. In this segment, he sits down with host Maria Hinojosa to discuss the history of Chinese migration to Mexico, first in the 1800s and then again in the 1900s. Together, they unpack the parallels between the anti-Chinese rhetoric used in Mexico during that time period, and the current anti-immigrant rhetoric used by the U.S. administration today.

Op-ed: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and the model minority myth

Stamford Advocate

September 5, 2018

The film “Crazy Rich Asians” has received attention in the media in recent weeks. One of the reasons is that this is the first major studio film with an Asian and Asian American cast since “The Joy Luck Club” in 1993.

The public can judge generalizations about a population based upon a movie in different ways. The American public currently has certain perceptions about Asian Americans — that they are all good in math, were responsible for introducing sushi to the masses, that they attend elite universities, and are affluent and successful. However, there has been a conceptual framework that has characterized Asian Americans unfairly and with racist overtones for many years — The Model Minority Myth.

In her book, “The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority,” Ellen Wu articulates the social, cultural, political and economic forces that have shaped the Model Minority Myth. Asian American scholars have addressed the concept of the Model Minority Myth since the 1960s. Many have steadfastly labored to defy its premises and implications. The consensus is that the model minority distorts the material realities and obscures the class diversity of a population that includes substantial numbers of poor and working-class people. Select Asian ethnic groups, such as Hmong and other Southeast Asian refugee communities in Connecticut, experience disproportionately high rates of welfare dependency and unemployment alongside disproportionately low levels of income and education.

More generally, working-class individuals comprise a significant portion of immigration from Asia, both documented and the 1.7 million Asian undocumented immigrants in the United States. To put those numbers in perspective, they account for about 16 percent or one out of every six undocumented immigrants in the United States and it also means that about one out of every seven Asian immigrants are undocumented. Thus, by being grouped together with more affluent Asian Americans, these segments of the Asian American population are often rendered invisible, and denied access to social welfare and other assistance opportunities.

In addition, the statistics invoked to support the model minority myth are misleading. While Asian Americans ostensibly boost the highest median income of any racial group, Asian American families generally include more workers per household than white families. Asian Americans also tend to concentrate in dense metropolitan areas where costs of living are well above the national average. Moreover, while certain Asian ethnic groups have completed more years of schooling than other races, Asian Americans as a whole earn less than whites of comparable educational levels. Despite perceptions to the contrary, Asian Americans are not above the dominant society’s biases and discrimination.

Take the most recent revelation that Harvard University was using a subjective scale to determine undergraduate admissions decisions. Specifically, the evaluation of the admissions process by the Department of Justice indicated that Asian Americans, who had higher GPAs and SAT scores than whites, were judged to have “social inadequacies” and “introverted personalities” that potentially would impede success at Harvard, and were subsequently passed over by whites with lower GPAs and SAT scores for admission at the university.

Furthermore, in November 2005, the Committee of 100, a national Chinese American Leadership Organization, chose to examine executive leadership in higher education among Asian Pacific Americans (APAs). The study concluded that while APAs are the most widely represented minority group within faculty ranks, the lack of APAs serving as presidents, vice presidents, and executive management positions demonstrates that APAs are “egregiously under-represented in executive decision-making roles.” There has been little progress toward addressing this leadership gap in higher education institutions

The current political bipolarization in America is a breeding ground for stereotypes and “fake news” to be perpetuated. This groundbreaking movie highlights the range of personalities that exemplify the Asian American population. The viewers, however, must understand that the Model Minority Myth continues to persist in American society.

Michael M. Ego teaches the course Asian Pacific American Families at the University of Connecticut, Stamford.

AAASI Courtesy Faculty MICHAEL EGO Urges Continued Investment in UConn Amid Budgetary Constraints

On April 23, 2017 the Stamford Advocate published an Op-ed article co-written by University of Connecticut Professors Preston A. Britner and Michael M. Ego entitled “The Dividends of a Public Research University.”

Noting the rise of UConn among the Top 20 of 133 U.S. public research universities, they primarily point to the work that dedicated faculty engage in toward research, teaching, service, and outreach.

Professors engage in empirical and secondary research projects that challenge assumptions, produce innovative new technologies, and make the world a better place. UConn faculty are also committed to both undergraduate and graduate teaching and mentoring the future scholars and professionals among the student body. Service comes in the form of campus governance, contributions to professional societies around the globe, reviews for journals and grant panels that advance knowledge across disciplines, testimony that informs policies at state and national levels, and public engagement that brings scholars and communities together to jointly address society’s most pressing issues.

Amid daily reports of an increasingly widening budgetary deficit for the state of Connecticut, Britner and Ego urge continued support for public higher education institutions such as UConn, for the benefit of the students who we all hope to benefit by as tomorrow’s engaged citizens and leaders.

Editorial Opinion by Professor Michael Ego Published in the Stamford Advocate

“WWII Internment Camps NOT ‘Fake News'” by Asian/Asian American Studies Courtesy Faculty MICHAEL EGO was recently published in the Stamford Advocate and also formed the basis for a televised interview with Prof. Ego by Richard French

On the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and in the wake of post-election rhetoric about the possibility of enacting Muslim registries, in addition to the fallout from the knowing dissemination of fabricated articles and news items, Michael Ego’s editorial opinion piece is a timely reminder to revisit the important if difficult lessons of the past.

In “WWII Internment Camps NOT ‘Fake News'” that was published by the Stamford Advocate, Asian/Asian American Studies Courtesy Faculty MICHAEL EGO refers to Executive Order 9066, signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, that authorized the unlawful removal and incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese heritage — fully 2/3 of them U.S. citizens, Americans born in the U.S.A. — without due process of law. However, it must be equally and forcefully remembered that the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, signed by Ronald Reagan, acknowledged the “race prejudice, war hysteria and failure of political leadership” in its reparations and apology to the survivors of this regrettable period of U.S. history.

Dr. Ego was also interviewed by Richard French following publication of the editorial. And as a result of teaching the course HIST/AASI 3531 Japanese Americans and World War II, one of his students developed an Independent Study video that visually illustrates and educates about this critical period of American history.

Since 1997, the Asian/Asian American Studies Institute, a recipient of a federal grant as part of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 that aimed to create public educational opportunities to make the lessons of the internment more widely known, has held an annual/February Day of Remembrance event, in collaboration with the Asian American Cultural Center, that marks and examines the contemporary significance of the U.S. internment camps.

SAVE THE DATE / FLYER Wednesday, February 16, 2017 at 2PM in the Student Union Building, Room 428 — Greg Robinson, author of By Order of the President (Harvard Press) and The Tragedy of Democracy (Columbia Press) will give a Guest Lecture that reflects on the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066.