Asian American and Pacific Islander experience

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In 500-550 words discuss this weeks readings answering the following question: What is the Asian American and Pacific Islander experience? Contemplate on how the two groups are conflated and what that means for understanding race/ethnicity, class and gender for the groups.

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Asian American Students in Asian American Studies: Experiences of Racism-Related Stress and Relation to Depressive and Anxious Symptoms Karen L. Suyemoto, Charles M. Liu Journal of Asian American Studies, Volume 21, Number 2, June 2018, pp. 301-326 (Article) Published by Johns Hopkins University Press DOI: For additional information about this article Access provided by Claremont College (10 Oct 2018 06:33 GMT) ASIAN AMERICAN STUDENTS IN ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES Experiences of Racism-Related Stress and Relation to Depressive and Anxious Symptoms Karen L. Suyemoto and Charles M. Liu ABSTRACT. Although Asian American Studies courses have existed for many decades, there is little empirical, particularly quantitative, research on their effects. This study was designed to investigate the experiences of Asian American students who take Asian American Studies courses, focusing particularly on the extent to which students perceived and were affected by racism-related stress and the relation of that stress to mental health variables previously identified as relevant to Asian American college students. Findings indicated that Asian American students who chose to enroll in Asian American Studies courses experienced higher levels of racism-related stress at the time of enrollment as compared to students who had never enrolled in an Asian American Studies course. Furthermore, although students who take Asian American Studies do not report significantly greater anxious or depressive symptoms than students who do not take them, the experience of sociohistorical racism for enrolled students was significantly related to the experience of anxiety at the time of enrollment. However, after taking a single course, the significant relation between sociohistorical racism-related stress and anxiety was no longer significant, in spite of increases in racism-related stress. T he “model minority” stereotype suggests that Asian American students experience academic success with few adjustment difficulties and little racism. However, there is ample evidence that this is an erroneous view, and that Asian American college students face major challenges that have been related to racial and ethnic discrimination and marginalization.1 jaas june 2018 • 301–326 © johns hopkins university press 302 • JOURNAL OF ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES • 21.2 Research indicates, for example, that Asian American late adolescents and college students may be more isolated, segregated, and socially excluded than European Americans, Latinx, or African Americans; experience racial and ethnic discrimination; and experience significantly more psychological distress (depressive and anxious symptoms) than European Americans.2 Previous research supports that these experiences of marginalization and racial discrimination are related to the prevalence of psychological distress in Asian Americans. In a meta-analysis of twenty-three studies, racial discrimination was related to anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, lower sense of well-being, and overall distress among Asian Americans.3 Among one sample of Asian American university students, racism was associated with interpersonal relationship problems, self-esteem problems, and career problems.4 Furthermore, compared with university students from other racial groups, the relation between perceived racism and emotional distress was the strongest among Asian Americans.5 Even mere awareness of the “perpetual foreigner” stereotype, the idea that racial and ethnic minorities are considered foreign in a European American society independent of actual nativity status, predicted lower hope and life satisfaction among Asian American students.6 Although Asian American Studies (AsAmSt) classes are not designed to be a psychological intervention, they may nonetheless have positive effects on students’ mental health and adjustment, particularly distress that may be related to social marginalization or discrimination. AsAmSt was developed as an activist discipline that aimed to resist the intellectual and social hegemony that contributed to the marginalization and lack of justice for Asian American people and communities through increasing community involvement in education, fostering engagement in Asian American community activities, and promoting educational reform to combat misinformation and marginalization of Asian American experiences and contributions.7 To advance these goals, many AsAmSt classes incorporated consciousness raising and empowerment for Asian American students to motivate them to engage with communities and enable them to effectively resist racism and promote social justice.8 Courses within the discipline are therefore explicitly designed with aims to improve the educational experiences of Asian American students by increasing relevance of education through focusing on Asian American experiences, raising awareness about racial and ethnic discrimination, and empowering students to resist the negative effects of racism.9 Given these purposes, AsAmSt courses may affect Asian American students’ psychological experiences of awareness and/or distress about or related to racism. However, no research has directly ASIAN AMERICAN STUDENTS IN ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES • SUYEMOTO AND LIU • examined this possibility in relation to explicitly psychological variables of racism-related stress or potentially related anxious or depressive distress. The limited research on the effects of ethnic studies, including AsAmSt, does support that these courses are affecting students’ psychological experience, in addition to affecting their academic engagement and achievement, sometimes affecting the latter through effects on the former. Sleeter reviewed the small number of studies that specifically evaluated ethnic studies of any sort for ethnic minority students, pre-K to higher education, with a particular focus on academic and attitudinal outcomes. Identifying approximately thirty-five published studies from 1991 to 2009, representing sixteen to twenty-five different curricula or courses, she concluded that the benefits of ethnic studies courses “are supported by research documenting a positive relationship between the racial/ethnic identity of students of color and academic achievement.”10 Additionally, she concluded that the research indicated that ethnic studies curricula had positive impacts not only on academic engagement, literacy, achievement, and attitudes toward learning, but also on sense of agency for minority students. Although Sleeter’s review supports positive effects, there were woefully few studies for her to draw from, and only two of these studies focused on Asian Americans.11 Furthermore, both of the Asian American– focused studies specifically addressed a Filipino American curriculum and effects on Filipino American college students, rather than on a more diverse Asian American student sample or AsAmSt curriculum. In addition to Sleeter’s review, the very small amount of scholarship that does exist about the effects of AsAmSt supports additional positive psychological effects of AsAmSt, including feelings of validation, sense of agency and self-esteem, connection to community, and decreased feelings of isolation.12 However, very little of this scholarship was specifically designed to evaluate effects. Furthermore, given its qualitative or quantitative descriptive methodologies, this scholarship offers important perspectives on processes and contexts, but offers less ability to evaluate effects that may be more generalizable—an outcome that depends on larger, more quantitative methodologies. In sum, an interdisciplinary integration of literature from AsAmSt, education, and psychology suggests that Asian American students experience racism and marginalization in college settings, that such experiences relate to psychological distress, and that AsAmSt may affect racism-related awareness or empowerment that could relate to or ameliorate distress experienced by Asian American students related to hegemonic educational experiences and contexts. However, this has not been researched. Therefore, this study was designed to examine the following questions: 303 304 • JOURNAL OF ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES • 21.2  ow are Asian American students who choose to enroll in AsAmSt H courses similar to or different from those who do not? Given that Asian American students experience racism and marginalization, are AsAmSt courses a resource for students who are distressed by these experiences? If so, we would anticipate that students who enroll in AsAmSt classes would be more aware of or distressed by experiences of discrimination. • How do AsAmSt courses affect students’ perceptions of racism and their mental health/symptomology? If AsAmSt courses are meeting their goals of raising consciousness and awareness about racialization and racism, then Asian American students taking such courses would be expected to be more aware of racism. However, we would hope that such awareness would not contribute to greater psychological distress given the discipline’s aim to educate and empower. This is in line with Crocker and Major’s theorizing that the self-esteem of racial minorities may be protected even in the face of awareness of discrimination by attributing negative experiences to others’ prejudice, rather than to personal shortcoming.13 • Method This study examined the impact of AsAmSt on Asian American students’ mental health in a public university in New England using a pretest and posttest design with a control and intervention group. The University of Massachusetts Boston is a U.S. Department of Education–designated Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander–serving institution (AANAPISI). AANAPISIs are colleges or universities where the undergraduate student enrollment consists of at least 10 percent Asian American or Native American or Pacific Islander, and at least 50 percent of the student body is eligible for federal need-based financial assistance. Asian American students at UMass Boston include a relatively large number of Southeast Asian Americans, reflecting the local contexts: the greater Boston area contains the second largest Cambodian American population in the United States and the sixteenth largest Vietnamese American population. The AsAmSt program at the UMass Boston is a nationally recognized and lauded program, highlighted by the Chronicle of Higher Education and the American Association of Colleges and Universities for its excellence and innovation. It “offers the largest selection of Asian American Studies courses, faculty, and community resources of any university in New England.”14 ASIAN AMERICAN STUDENTS IN ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES • SUYEMOTO AND LIU • Participants and Procedures Inclusion criteria for all participants included identifying as Asian or Asian American, being at least eighteen years old, and able to understand English sufficiently to complete the survey as measured by self-report of at least a five on a seven-point scale ranging from “English is my first language or I speak it as well as if it were my first language” to “I am just beginning to learn English.” Participant characteristics for the sample as a whole and for intervention and control group participants disaggregated are presented in Table 1. Generation was measured through questioning birthplace and inquiring for age of immigration to the United States if born elsewhere. First generation included all those who immigrated after age ten, while 1.5 generation included those who immigrated between birth and age ten. Ethnicity was operationalized through open-ended questions of personal ethnic identification and family ethnic heritage. Responses were aggregated into regional ethnicities in the following way: Filipinos; East Asians included Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; Southeast Asians included Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Laotian, and Hmong; South Asians included Indian, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan; multiethnic included participants who specified Chinese and an additional Asian ethnicity. In the sample as a whole, the most frequently reported specific ethnicities were Chinese (38.8 percent; n = 38) and Vietnamese (21.4 percent; n = 21). Social status was measured using parents’ occupation and education according to the Barratt Simplified Measure of Social Status.15 Participants fell in the full range of scores from eight and sixty-six and were distributed in a bimodal distribution. Participants in the intervention group were recruited in AsAmSt classes, including Asians in the United States, Introduction to Asian American Studies, Southeast Asians in the United States, Becoming South Asian, Asian American Psychology, Asian American Community Internships, Asian American Media Literacy, and Asian American Literary Voices. Only students who were enrolled for the first time in an AsAmSt class were eligible to participate. Control group participants were recruited through flyers and tabling on campus. Inclusion criteria specified that these students were not currently enrolled and had never been enrolled in an AsAmSt course. Data were collected over six semesters. Pretests were given within two weeks of the start of the semester, and posttests within two weeks of the end of the semester. Participants received ten dollars for completing the pretest, and fifteen dollars plus entry into a drawing for a fifty-dollar gift card for completing the posttest. 305 306 • JOURNAL OF ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES • 21.2 Researcher Positionality Within psychology, researcher positionality is usually discussed in relation to qualitative methodology. However, positionality affects all research, regardless of the method, given that it shapes the lens through which we ask questions, choose background literature and method, and interpret results. The first author (KLS) is a multiracial Japanese European American sansei, trained as a clinical psychologist and holding a joint appointment in Psychology and AsAmSt. As a student, I had no exposure to AsAmSt. As a professor, my research focused on Asian American racial identity in psychology, which led to my current position. Through my joint appointment (and especially from AsAmSt colleagues, students, and teaching), I developed a stronger understanding of the history and goals of AsAmSt, the potential for student empowerment, and the ways that AsAmSt might contribute to shaping education as a positive force for social justice. I also have a stronger sense of how psychology’s focus on the individual and relative lack of attention to issues of power, privilege, and justice might be limiting the ability of psychologists to contribute to healing, health, and resilience for racial and ethnic minority people and communities. I brought these understandings to the shaping of this study, with an active hope to bridge the disciplines in my research, as well as in my teaching (e.g., Asian American Psychology, which was cross-listed in both Psychology and AsAmSt). The second author (CML) is a 1.5-generation Chinese American advanced doctoral student in a clinical psychology doctorate program. Although I did not have an opportunity to take ethnic studies courses during my undergraduate studies, the social sciences facilitated my own racial and ethnic identity development during my college years. Recognizing the importance of education in facilitating empowerment, rejecting racism, and creating social change, I aim to teach and contribute research that focuses on issues relevant to Asian American mental health, education, and well-being. Our particular positionalities meant that we had experiences through our backgrounds, our social relations, our teaching, and our experiences as therapists that influenced our approach to this study. We were both familiar with the pain of racism, both personally and as witnesses to the pain felt by our clients and our students; this contributed to our desire to do research that could contribute to interventions or approaches to foster empowerment. As psychologists and as people of color, we believe in personal change and empowerment, in the individual’s ability to shape resilience and strength even in the face of oppression and injustice. We also ASIAN AMERICAN STUDENTS IN ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES • SUYEMOTO AND LIU • understand that research is not neutral: although psychology is primarily a postpositivist discipline, our training in qualitative methods and in ethnic studies influenced (a) our valuing of qualitative studies (as described above); (b) our recognition of what quantitative methods such as those we use here can, and cannot, do; and (c) our view that research should offer directions for social good. Measures The Asian American Racism-Related Stress Inventory (AARRSI) was used in this study to examine the perception of racism and related stress.16 Here, racism is defined as the active or passive subordination of minority racial groups by the majority racial group. Racism-related stress is the psychological response that results from experiencing racism. The AARRSI includes a total score and three subscales: General Racism, Perpetual Foreigner Racism, and Socio-historical Racism. General Racism is conceptualized as overt and microaggressive forms of racism. Perpetual Foreigner Racism is conceptualized as experiences related to racialized assumptions that individuals are foreigners, independent of their actual nativity status. Socio-historical Racism is conceptualized as the extent to which individuals are aware of historical examples of discrimination on the individual and systemic levels. Liang et al. reported that the twenty-nine-item Likert-type measure had good test-retest reliability among samples of college-aged Asian Americans, as well as strong discriminant validity from measures of cultural values, and strong concurrent validity with measures of minority college student-specific stressors, interracial stresses, and emotional reactions to racism.17 The total scale and the Socio-historical Racism subscale demonstrated good internal reliability for the sample as a whole as well as for the control and intervention samples separately (as ranged from .82 to .90). However, both the General Racism and Perpetual Foreigner Racism subscales demonstrated inadequate internal reliability at the pretest time for the control group (a = .63 and .55, respectively). Although reliabilities for the total sample and intervention group sample for these subscales were adequate (ranging from .73 to .84), these variables were dropped from subsequent analyses, as low reliability within the control group made comparisons between groups impossible to interpret. Thus, the Socio-historical Racism scale was the only subscale used in this study; as noted above, it focuses on awareness of and stress related to the more historical or social-systemic aspects of racism, with items such as “You learn that, while immigration quotas on Asian peoples were severely restricted 307 308 • JOURNAL OF ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES • 21.2 until the latter half of the 1900s, quotas for European immigrants were not” or “You hear that Asian Americans are not significantly represented in management positions.” The Color Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS) is a twenty-item measure used in this study to examine awareness of race and acknowledgment of racism.18 Colorblindness is conceptualized as beliefs that race is unimportant, reflecting a view that either lacks awareness or denies racial dynamics and racism. For this measure, race is understood as a social construct related to the belief that individuals have meaningful differences based on physical characteristics. Racism is the discrimination or marginalization of individuals o ...
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School: Rice University





Social Science


Institutional Affiliation





Asian American and Pacific Islander experience

This study majorly dwells on the educational experience of the Asian American and
Pacific Islander also known as (AAPI). The researcher created a paradox formerly exploited to
explain the stereotype behind the educational, cultural, and communal challenges faced by this
group (Kumashiro, 2006). An example of a stereotype applied to illustrate this condition is the
poor refugee who consumes a community’s resources or the precious child of doctors and
entrepreneurs; the illiterate Islander who only speaks Creole English or a foreigner like ; the
nerdy student who doesn’t speak English performs well in mathematics ...

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