Asians at Harvard, and in America: Yes, we’re discriminated against; No, the Ivy League school isn’t the right target


I’ve experienced anti-Asian prejudice since I was a kid. The first time I ever rode a school bus, my white neighbors leaned across the aisle, stretching their eyes and pantomiming buck teeth amid stifled laughter.

When I was 15, a New York City policeman caught me jaywalking and asked me frankly if I spoke English, expressing surprise when I responded in perfect Newyorkese.

And yes, when I applied to Harvard in 2012, I was told that I might as well subtract 200 points from my SAT score — or just give up entirely. Top universities already had more Asians than they could handle, and I wasn’t different enough to make the cut.

Already then, the anti-Asian bias in elite schools’ admissions was an open secret. One Chinese-American acquaintance confided to me that she was advised not to be “another Asian girl who plays the violin”; Harvard rejected her.

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The Five Most Common Native Languages of English-Learners



« Most States Failing to Meet English-Learner Academic Targets, Report Finds | Main

The Five Most Common Native Languages of English-Learners


Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Haitian Creole are the top five home languages for English-language learners in the nation’s K-12 public schools, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education.

“The Biennial Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Title III State Formula Grant Program” offers an in-depth look at the prevalence of the languages among the nation’s K-12 English-learner population.

Altogether, more than 80 percent of the nation’s English-learners are native speakers of one of those languages, but there is lots of linguistic diversity among the nation’s English-learners: 44 languages were represented among the individual states’ top five most commonly spoken languages during the 2013-14 school year, the report found.

Capture Most Common Languages.PNG

The study, delivered to Congress at the end of September, uses data from the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years to examine the state of English-learner education in the United States.

Here’s an overview of the data on the most common native languages of English-learners:

1.       Spanish

In the 2013-14 school year, 10 states reported that at least 80 percent of the English-learners enrolled in public K-12 schools were native Spanish speakers. Here’s a look:

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All but five states reported Spanish as the most common language for English-learners. Those five states, along with the most common languages in each, are: Alaska (Yup’ik languages); Hawaii (Iloko); Maine (Somali); Montana (German); and Vermont (Nepali).

2.       Arabic

The number of English-learners reported as speaking Arabic increased by 157 percent between the 2006-07 and 2013-14 school years. The 2006-07 school year marked the first time the biennial report listed the number of Arabic-speaking English-learners. Even with the growth, Arabic speakers represent just about 2.5 percent of all English-learners.

Overall, Arabic is among the top five native languages for English-learners in 36 states and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Here’s a look:

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3.       Chinese

The number of English-learners reported as speaking Chinese increased by 195 percent between the 2006-07 and 2013-14 school years. The 2006-07 school year marked the first time the biennial report listed the number of English-learners with Asian or Pacific Islander languages. Here’s a look:

Capture Asian Pacific Islander Languages.PNGOverall, native Chinese-speaking students represent about 2.4 percent of all English-learners. The report does not distinguish between Cantonese and Mandarin speakers.

4.       Vietnamese

The percentage of English-learners whose native language is Vietnamese is 1.9 percent, the same percentage as it was in the 2006-07 school year. However, the overall number of Vietnamese-speaking English-learners has declined over that period, dropping from nearly 86,000 to about 80,000—a more than 5 percent decline.

The decline of English-speakers of Hmong, another Asian-Pacific Islander language, took an even more dramatic drop, falling by 57 percent. (See the chart above for more detail)

5.       Haitian Creole

Haitian Creole replaced Hmong in the category of five most common languages spoken by English-learners nationwide in the 2012-13 school year. The Haitian Creole-speaking English-learners are largely concentrated in four states, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Here’s a look:

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Haitian Creole remained among the top five languages during the 2013-14 school year, despite a 4 percent decline from the previous year that brought the population down to roughly 35,500.

What About American Indian and Alaska Native languages?

A declining number of states identify an American Indian or Alaska Native language among the five most common native languages of English-learners, dropping from 10 in 2012-13 to seven in 2013-14.

The seven states where an American Indian or Alaska Native language were among the most common languages are: Alaska, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah. The states that dropped from the list are: Idaho, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

The biennial report captures data on eight American Indian and Alaska native languages or language groups.

Here’s a copy of the full report:

Biennial Report to Congress… by on Scribd</p >

Related Stories

Schools Are Ill-Prepared to Educate ‘Superdiverse’ English-Learners

English-Learners Are a Diverse Group. How Can Schools Meet Their Needs?

Few Aspiring Teachers Aim to Work With English-Learners, Report Finds

Most States Failing to Meet English-Learner Academic Targets

Images: U.S. Department of Education, office of English-language acquisition

Photo Credit: Kindergartner Ava Josephine Mikel and teacher Priscilla Joseph dance to Haitian music during a game of “freeze dance” at Toussaint L’Ouverture Academy, a Haitian Creole dual-language program at Mattahunt Elementary School in Boston. More dual-language programs are cropping up in districts around the country.

–Gretchen Ertol for Education Week

Dr. Beverly Tatum – Scholar of race relations receives $25,000 Gittler Prize

Source –


Gittler Prize Award 10.3.18 TL0016-Edit

On Oct. 3, University President Ronald Liebowitz presented Dr. Beverly Tatum with the 2018 Gittler Prize, which recognizes outstanding scholarly work on racial, ethnic and religious relations. According to Liebowitz’s introductory remarks, the members of the Gittler prize selection committee described Tatum’s work as “brilliant, elegant, insightful, unpretentious — a model for all in the academy.”

Prof. Derron Wallace (SOC), a member of the selection committee, listed Tatum’s qualifications as he introduced her as the winner. He explained that Tatum has written three books but is best known for “‘Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?’: And Other Conversations About Race,” which was named the multicultural book of the year by the National Association for Multicultural Education in 1998. “I believe this should be University-wide reading for all of us here at Brandeis,” he said.

Recipients of the Gittler Prize receive $25,000 and a medal. To guide her speech, Tatum looked to the doctrine of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to better understand how facilitating dialogue between different groups can help close the “empathy gap” between them.

Tatum explained that American public schools were actually less segregated in 1980 than they are now. More specifically, 75% of Black students attend “majority minority schools” where over 60 percent of their classmates live in poverty. According to Tatum, “the result is…that young people are growing up in racially divided communities and are almost as separated from each other … as they were 50 years ago.” Tatum explains that with no interaction or knowledge of each other’s life experiences, no genuine empathetic relationships between whites and people of color can exist. This is the empathy gap.

According to Tatum, another factor hindering interracial dialogue is the homogeneity of American social networks.

Tatum also elaborated on exactly what needs to be discussed in cross-group conversations. She explained that less well-known aspects of the history of racism should be touched upon in productive dialogue. For instance, she mentioned that Georgetown University was funded by the sale of slaves. Knowledge of a fact like this can change one’s attitudes toward race. The most important part of cross-group dialogue is knowledge, according to Tatum. Unless racial groups have knowledge of each other’s current and historical conditions, she said, they cannot have empathy for each other.

Dr. Tatum expressed hope that interracial dialogue will become more prevalent. She cited programs such as the University of Michigan Intergroup Relations Program and foundations such as the Kellogg Foundation that have committed themselves to promoting interracial dialogue throughout the country. In the IGR program, she explained, students take courses “carefully designed to engage students in careful listening and shared explorations of the meanings of social identities, conflict, community, and social justice in those contexts.”

According to Tatum, there is research evidence that dialogues like those facilitated by the IGR program are effective in bridging the empathy gap between races. These programs change the attitudes and behaviors of both white students and students of color for the better, Tatum said. Students involved in the programs had “increased self-awareness about issues of power and privilege, greater awareness of the institutionalization of race and racism in the United States, better cross-racial interactions, less fear of race-related conflict and greater participation in social change.”

Tatum addresses the counterargument — that discussions about race only create tensions where none previously existed. Tatum believes that silencing conversations on race and racism “is just another way to maintain the status quo. You can’t solve a problem without talking about it.”

Finally, Tatum reiterated her main point: “We can allow the forces leading to greater segregation to drive us further apart as a nation, or we can use our leadership as active citizens to engage one another in the work of building community across lines of difference.” She shared a quote from Dr. King: “Racial understanding is not something that we find, but something that we must create.”

Tatum ended by praising the Brandeis motto: “Truth even unto its innermost parts.”

“That’s exactly what I’m talking about,” she said. “We need to explore truth even unto its innermost parts, even the parts that don’t feel right.” She explained that our motto can guide our faculty toward representing diversity on campus. She said that “If we only talk about the experience of white middle class” people, we are not exploring “truth unto its innermost parts.”

Looking for award-winning Asian American films to show in your class for free?


Through your school’s library, you can stream all these great films and more, via their Kanopy streaming service. Just contact your school librarian for more information.
A Suitable Girl (2017), dir. Sarita Khurana & Smriti Mundra
A SUITABLE GIRL world premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, and won the Best New Documentary Director Award. The film follows three young women in India struggling to maintain their identities and follow their dreams amid intense pressure to get married. Documenting the arranged marriage and matchmaking process in vérité over four years, the film examines the women’s complex relationship with marriage, family, and society.
Beijing Taxi (2010), dir. Miao Wang
BEIJING TAXI is a timely, uncensored and richly cinematic portrait of China’s ancient capital as it undergoes a profound transformation. The film takes an intimate and compelling look at the lives of three cab drivers as they confront modern issues and changing values against the backdrop of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Through their daily struggles infused with humor and quiet determination, BEIJING TAXI reveals the complexity and contradictions of China’s shifting paradigm.
Bolinao 52 (2009), dir. Duc Nguyen
On a moonless summer night, a lone wooden boat cruised slowly on the Mekong River toward the ocean. Its mission was to quietly crept away from the shore of Vietnam in search of a new asylum. At the same time, the USS Dubuque of the US Navy, departed Sasebo, Japan. Its operation was to head a minesweeping force in the Persian Gulf. Their courses collided and the meeting exploded into a horrifying headline- “Cannibalism at Sea.”
Carved in Silence (1988), dir. Felicia Lowe
Angel Island Immigration Station comes to life with dramatic re-creations, interviews with former detainees, and recitations of poetry carved on the walls to reveal the human cost of the Chinese Exclusion Acts and the complexity of America’s immigration policies in what has become a classic teaching tool. Winner of a CINE Golden Eagle, Chris Plaque, National Educational Film and Video Association Honorable Mention.
China: Land of My Father (1979), dir. Felicia Lowe
One of the first Chinese “roots” trips filmed in the People’s Republic of China in 1979, Lowe meets her paternal grandmother for the first time, learns about the country her father left behind, and looks at the impact on families separated by war and emigration. EMMY nominee, CINE Golden Eagle, American Film Festival Red Ribbon Award.
Chinese Couplets (2015), dir. Felicia Lowe
Part memoir, part history, part investigation, the filmmaker’s search for answers about her mother’s emigration to America during the Chinese Exclusion era reveals the often painful price paid by immigrants who abandoned their personal identity, the burden of silence they passed on to their offspring and the intergenerational strife between immigrants and their American born children.
The Chinese Gardens (2012), dir. Valerie Soe
THE CHINESE GARDENS looks at the lost Chinese community in Port Townsend, Washington, examining anti-Chinese violence—lynchings, beatings, and murders—in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1800s and drawing connections between past and present race relations in the U.S.
My Life in China (2016), dir. Kenneth Eng
My father fled the Cultural Revolution in 1966. After risking his life to get to America, he started our family in Boston. But when his restaurant went bankrupt and my mom got sick, he began to feel like he’d failed at the American Dream. A story of migration is passed down from father to son, as we retrace the precarious steps he took in search of a better life. Ultimately asking the question, what does it mean to be both Chinese and American?
Seeking Asian Female (2012). dir. Debbie Lum
SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE follows Steven and Sandy — an aging white man with self-proclaimed “yellow fever” obsessed with marrying an Asian woman, and the young Chinese bride he finds online. Filmmaker Debbie Lum sets out to document the outcome of this unlikely match, and finds herself playing translator and marriage counselor through the couple’s precarious first year of marriage. Gender, race, and class collide in this intimate documentary that explores and challenges Asian fetishization.
Stateless (2015), dir. Duc Nguyen
In 2005, a spark of hope came when the U.S. immigration officials returned to Manila to review the cases of over 2000 Vietnamese refugees who spent over 17 years in the Philippines waiting for resettlement.
Take me to the River (2004), dir. Kenneth Eng
“Take Me to the River” immerses viewers in the Maha Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage that takes place every 12 years and is arguably the largest gathering in human history. Bear witness to the chaos of preparation and the ecstasy of the celebration on a roller coaster ride from obscurity to clarity along the dusty flood plains of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers. Through misty dawns, peaceful moments, crowded streets and a chaotic sprint to the river, you’ll journey into the Sangam, the physical and spiritual heart of the Mela (festival). Sins are cleansed, infinite karmic cycles are washed away, all people are equal and world peace is possible.
Tested (2016), dir. Curtis Chin
“Tested” looks at the important issue of racial diversity and public schools by following a dozen families in New York City from different racial, socio-economic and religious backgrounds as they prepare to pass the grueling standardized test to get into one of the city’s best high schools.
Vincent Who? (2009), dir. Tony Lam; prod. Curtis Chin
In 1982, Vincent Chin was beaten to death in Detroit by two white autoworkers at the height of anti-Japanese sentiments. The culprits received a $3,000 fine and 3 years probation, but no jail time. Outraged by this injustice, Asian Americans around the country galvanized to form a pan-Asian identity and civil rights movement….VINCENT WHO? explores this important legacy through interviews with the key players at the time as well as a new generation of activists impacted by Vincent Chin. It also looks at the case in relation to the larger Asian American narrative, in such events as Chinese Exclusion, Japanese American Internment, the 1992 L.A. Riots, anti-Asian hate crimes, and post-9/11 racism….Ultimately, the film asks how far Asian Americans have come since the Chin case, and how far they have yet to go.
Who is Arthur Chu (2017), dir. Yu Gu & Scott Drucker
Arthur Chu hacks the American institution that is Jeopardy! and wins big, garnering the attention of everyone from Diane Sawyer to TMZ. He leverages his newfound online celebrity to battle dark forces on the internet as a blogger and cultural pundit, tackling issues from misogyny online to racism in America. Arthur stands up to a society that has sought to erase him and marginalize him as an Asian American, while attempting to balance married life with work. He also begins the painful process of purging himself of his own demons, bred from the traumas of immigration and familial expectations. WHO IS ARTHUR CHU? is the story of a tragic hero who realizes he can only create positive change in the world if he first heals his own wounds. This feature documentary has been a festival hit at Slamdance and Hot Docs, and won accolades at Austin Asian American Film Festival, CAAMfest and DisOrient Film Festival.

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