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Race Disparities Analysis

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Summary of The Impact of Asian American Health from Every Discrimination

Taoli Zhang


SOC 384L


Health disparities caused by everyday discriminations among minority communities are widely discussed in academia. Multiple national studies and numerous scholars have looked into how the explicit and implicit discriminations which usually target on minority communities, could cause health disparities not only from medical or treatment resources side but also from physical and mental health.

The majority of the sample of health disparity research tend to base on the data focus on African American and Hispanics. One reason for the situation could be the population base. The African American-White relations stand out in past decades because of the size of African American populations (Crystal, 1989), and the Hispanic groups could also fit into this explanation. The results of the research focus on African American and Hispanic are reasonable and could represent a relatively large portion of underrepresented minorities. However, regarding each specific group of minorities, Asian, as one of the fastest growing community in the U.S., might show different result compared to other minorities. The differentiation of results could come from some of the dependent variables. For instance, socioeconomic status, education level is hugely different from other minority groups.

According to the data from Pew Research Center, in the year of 2015, a total of 20.4 million Asian population reside in the U.S. It increased 72% from 2000 to 2015, which made it became the fastest growing group by percentage among all the major ethnic group. By comparison, Hispanic as the second fastest growing group, increased 60% in the same period.

While researching Asian Americans’ health disparities based on racial discriminations, one thing could also contribute to the reason why Asian Americans do not get enough attention from scholars and institutions, the Model Minority Myth. According to Manzano et al. (2015), this stereotype typically means “monolithically hardworking racial group whose high achievement undercuts claims of systemic racism made by other racially minoritized populations, especially African Americans.” This seemed-to-be positive stereotype against Asian American communities originated from the 1960s, which was the civil rights movements period. Even for nowadays, a significant portion of the public still does not perceive Asian Americans as a part of the underrepresented group because of this stereotype. This stereotype could lead to the less attention of Asian Americans’ potential health disparities which originated from everyday discrimination.

Meanwhile, Asian as a more substantial definition contains many subgroups, like Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian. The different group of people could differ vastly, not only for socioeconomic statuses (like education level, wealth level) but also for physical and biological presentations. Therefore, when researching Asian as a whole, the vast differences between each subgroup could create constraints for the researchers. For instance, the education level is different among subgroups of the Asian population, despite the fact that more than half Asians who are 25 years or older have a bachelor’s degree or more (Pew Research Center, 2015). Some huge gaps still exist between different Asian American subgroups. For example, 72% of the Indian-descent population holds a bachelor’s degree or more, while only 29% of the Vietnamese-descent population hold the same level of degrees. Income level also differ significantly, Indian-descent population have an average household income at $100,000, while Chinese have an average of $70,000, and Burmese only have $36,000 as average household income. The poverty rates, which could directly impact on the health status of the community, are also different by percentage. Indian community’s poverty rate is only 7.5%, in comparing to Vietnamese’ poverty rate climbs up to 14.3%, and some other subgroups could have poverty rates as high as more than 30%.

From above Pew facts and statistics, we could easily conclude that the Model Minority Myth is untenable, and Asian community is too diverse to use one single conclusion to represent all the people who identified themselves as Asian. In the meantime, the diversity of Asian community also creates certain obstacles for the sociologists who want to look into health disparities with Asian population, whether the research is represented enough or not will always be a big challenge to researchers. Therefore, it is crucial to have a clear picture of how everyday discrimination proposes impacts on Asian, and what had been done by scholars, and what are some of the questions and hypothesis that worth exploring under the Asian-specific scenario.

Current Research

Despite the Model Minority Myth mentioned above, Asian American as a minority group in the United States, sometimes are being considered by the scholars as marginalized, just like Hispanics and African Americans. The origin of the Model Minority Myth is indeed a representation of being treated unequally based on social resources that Asian Americans could gain. To marginalized groups, they are more easily to report on being discriminated by more powerful or more privileged groups in the society, and neither can Asian Americans get away from it (Krieger, Rowley, Herman, Avery, &Phillips, 1993).

So, here is the question, can Asian American get a “pass” from the consequences caused by the everyday discrimination? If not, how much impact it has on Asian Americans health disparities?

One of the major research areas for everyday discrimination towards minorities is the physical health outcomes from everyday discrimination. Chronical health issues, like chronical pain, are believed to be the most significant representation of the association between discrimination and physical health status. There is a wide range of scholar articles looked into this specific issue in the past, and some scholars argued that everyday subtle discrimination, could cause chronical health issues (Kessler, Mickelson, & Williams, 1999, and Williams & Neighbors, 2001) to the ethical minority. Consistent with this general understanding, there are some scholars found that Asian Americans show similar patterns compared to other minorities.

Studies have revealed Asian Americans face systematic discrimination on a daily basis. Though this data is not directly related to health conditions, Turner and colleagues successfully pointed out that during a house purchase process, Asian Americans face the same level discrimination compared to African American (Turner, 2003), which could imply a broader picture of the issue: Asian American is not privileged.  The underrepresented position for Asian American is possible to cause similar chronical health status to them just like any other marginalized groups.



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