Asian Americans: No Model Minority
Asian Americans constitute a significant minority group in the United States. At the dawn of the 21st century, they numbered 11.9 million and comprised over 4% of the American population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). Since 1960, their size has doubled each decade, a trend that is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. By and large, they are new Americans, as more than two-thirds were born overseas (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002).
Asian Americans have been portrayed as the model minority, excelling academically and professionally. This was supported by the 2000 Census finding (2002) that Asian Americans were better educated (44% held college degrees) and enjoyed the highest median household income ($55,525) than any other racial group. However, Asian Americans are a very diverse group. For example, 10.7% of Asian Americans lived below the poverty line (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). Furthermore, educational and economic success do not guarantee psychological well-being. The current symposium addresses both micro and macro-level challenges faced by Asian Americans, and discusses their implications for social work.
Specifically, the three presentations will examine three significant problems facing Asian Americans of various ages. These challenges have received little to no attention in the social work literature thus far. The first presentation, “The Effect of Intergenerational Conflict and Racial Discrimination on Depression in Filipino American Adolescents,” assesses the negative mental health consequences of familial (intergenerational conflict) and school (racial discrimination) stressors on the well-being of Filipino American adolescents, a highly understudied Asian group. The second presentation, “The Effect of Parental Trauma on Pscyhological Wee-Being in Southeast Asian American Young Adults” examines the transgenerational transmission of trauma in Southeast Asian refugee families. It empirically demonstrates the negative impact of the traumas suffered by Southeast Asian refugees on their young adult offsprings. Finally, the third presentation, “The Impact of Welfare Benefits Loss on Asian American Immigrant Families” examines the difficulties faced by welfare recipients who must transition from welfare to work within five years
All of the presentations suggest the importance of culturally-competent social work interventions with this population in order to assist the development and adjustment of Asian American youth and young adults and the transition of welfare families to work. Furthermore, policymakers need to reconsider the appropriateness of the five year welfare-to-work limit for immigrant and refugee Asian Americans.