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Why We Should Fight Hard to Uphold Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court of the U.S. delivered a temporary death knell to racial equality in the state of Michigan today by upholding Michigan’s ban on affirmative action policies. In doing so, the Court clarified that the Constitution merely permits, but does not require, the use of the kind of race-conscious programs barred by the Michigan Constitution, and that individual states can choose to ban affirmative action programs. The decision comes on the heels of efforts by the California legislature to revive affirmative action.

I support affirmative action. Contrary to mainstream media claims, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are

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The Sensitivity of White People and the Problem of Race in America

A recent post on this site, Why Are White People So Touchy about Being Called Racist?, touched off a debate that basically served to support my general thesis that white people are, in fact, pretty damn touchy about being accused of racism. Among the responses was this one: “come on Nakagawa, you know Japanese people are just as touchy.”

I’m not going to say that this is not a potentially true point. However, I never said Japanese people or any other people aren’t touchy about being called racist. I just said white people are touchy, a point that the cognitive …

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Stop and Frisk Affects Us All


Campaigns that put racism front and center are not popular these days. Just ask Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He recently claimed that the New York Police Department stops whites “too much” in reaction to two pieces of legislation aimed at putting an end to the NYPD’s practice of arbitrarily over-targeting blacks and Latinos. This tactic, better known as Stop and Frisk, has resulted in an estimated 5 million or so stops, 85 percent of them involving blacks and Latinos, over the last ten years. And the topper, only 12 percent of those stops resulted in arrests, mainly for minor offenses.

The …

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Jason Richwine & the Asian American dilemma

We’ve been hearing a lot about Jason Richwine’s racist views about Hispanics and immigration.  Richwine is the co-author of the widely discredited–even by other conservative think tanksHeritage Foundation report and the author of the infamous dissertation in which he calls Hispanics stupid.  I’m not going to go into the  particulars of that argument because lots of other people have already done so and done it well.  It’s also well established that there is a sordid history of trying to link IQ and race in the service of racism.

What we haven’t been hearing so much about is …

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A Capital Idea: What We’re Talking About When We Talk About Race

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) is described as “the style manual of choice for writers, editors, students, educators, and professionals in psychology, sociology, business, economics, nursing, social work, and justice administration, and other disciplines in which effective communication with words and data is fundamental.” One of the widely recognized goals of the manual is to suggest word choices that best reduce bias in our language.

Recently, the APA manual started suggesting that words referring to groups by race should be capitalized, as in, “Black” and “White.” They also say we should “avoid language that reifies race”

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Somebody On TV

The news of Ann Curry’s departure from the Today Show hit me surprisingly hard. I get most of my news online, and I almost never tune in to Today or any of its competitors. Sure, I take a look now and then. After all, these shows are among the drivers of American culture – they help to shape the American worldview.

I guess that’s why losing Ann Curry as a host of one of the more watched TV news and entertainment programs felt like a loss to me. Asian Americans are next to invisible in popular media, especially strong, intelligent …

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Constructing Race: Pew Center Report On Asians

The June 19 release of the Pew Research Center report, The Rise of Asian Americans is generating buzz that is, frankly, giving me a headache.

The report summary opens with the following:

Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success….

Asian Americans trace their roots to any of dozens of countries in the Far East, Southeast Asia and the …

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Asians are the Wedge

On Sunday before Memorial Day, I tuned in to MSNBC to watch Melissa Harris-Perry lead a discussion about Asian American voters. The show started out with some promise. But as it progressed, I found myself descending into a rant. By the end, I was full-on pissed. For all of the good intentions, one subtle but unbroken thread ran through the discussion – Asian Americans are the model minority.

In response to the relative absence of Asian American stars in Democratic Party politics, panelist William Schneider said, “…they have not relied on politics to get ahead as many other disadvantaged groups …

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Regarding Blackness is the Fulcrum

Blackness is the Fulcrum continues to be, by far, the most read post on Race Files. Many of the conversations I’ve had about it begin with the assumption that Asian Americans are less likely or even unlikely to step up on issues of racial justice. The suggestion is that I’m an exception to a rule that generally applies to Asian Americans who, a few imply, get off easy where race is concerned.

I think this deserves a response.

I didn’t mean to imply that Asian Americans are opting out of fighting racism. Neither did I mean to present myself as …

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The Privilege Game

In the classic book, Faces At The Bottom Of The Well:  The Permanence of Racism, legal scholar Derrick Bell put forth this proposition: “Black people will never gain full equality in this country. Even those herculean efforts we hail as successful will produce no more than temporary ‘peaks of progress,’ short-lived victories that slide into irrelevance as racial patterns adapt in ways that maintain white dominance. This is a hard-to-accept fact that all history verifies. We must acknowledge it, not as a sign of submission, but as an act of ultimate defiance.”

I consider Derrick Bell a racial justice …