Broad Data Categories Undermine California Community Colleges’ Commitment to Student Success

California State Assemblymember Rob Bonta, author of The Ahead Act (AB1726) which would expand data disaggregation for AAPIs in California, speaks to supporters at a rally earlier this year. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
California State Assemblymember Rob Bonta, author of The Ahead Act (AB1726) which would expand data disaggregation for AAPIs in California, speaks to supporters at a rally earlier this year. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

By Guest Contributor: Ryan Khamkongsay, Institutional Researcher

If knowledge is power, then accurate data is the foundation of empowerment. We live in a world that is completely data driven—good data is crucial for doctors to make accurate diagnoses, for teachers to know what’s working in a classroom, for epidemiologists to stop global pandemics, and for policymakers to design effective solutions.

As an Institutional Researcher in the California Community College (CCC) system, I know that the lack of disaggregated data is a major barrier to strengthening the evidence-based practices for promoting access and equity in higher education. California Community Colleges are the quintessential “open access” college system serving the most diverse population in the nation. CCC’s are the gateway to higher education for nearly 2.6 million students annually within the 112 college campus and 71 off-campus centers. As researchers in the CCC system, we are tasked with identifying achievement and access gaps within our diverse student body, but the overly broad aggregate racial and ethnic categories that are currently used continue to mask dramatic disparities across ethnic sub-communities making them invisible to us. I also know this as a second-generation Laotian American and a California native who entered higher education through the community college system. Southeast Asian Americans, like my family, entered this country as refugees of war or genocide and have struggled with much lower than average incomes, English proficiency levels, and educational attainment. The community college system can be a gateway for Southeast Asian Americans and other low-income communities of color into both higher education and high-skilled jobs. But if researchers and policymakers are not able to “see” our community’s students, then they will not know how to adequately support them.

We must ask: Are higher education institutions using the best methodologies to properly measure equity and identify achievement gaps within our diverse student populations?

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In Our Own Backyard: What You Need to Know About Human And Sex Trafficking in the U.S.

Map of inter-regional human trafficking flows, worldwide. (Photo Credit: United Nations Office of Drug and Crime)
Map of inter-regional human trafficking flows, worldwide. (Photo Credit: United Nations Office of Drug and Crime)

By Guest Contributor: Brian Kent

Most readers are likely aware that human and sex trafficking is a serious problem in countries such as Thailand and India. In fact, Asian women are the most trafficked group worldwide. But, readers may not know that human and sex trafficking of Asian women is a large problem here in the United States, as well. While abuse lawyers like those at AbuseGuardian.com can help victims of human and sex trafficking take legal action against their captors, trafficking is an issue that has sadly gone widely unnoticed in America.

70% of human trafficking victims worldwide are girls or adult women. Asians and Pacific Islanders (API) are disproportionately trafficked into sex work in America. Although APIs represent roughly 6% of Americans, nearly half of trafficked people into America are API, making APIs the second largest group of human trafficking victims in the Americas, and the largest group of people trafficked into the region. According to a 2004 U.S. Department of Justice report, 7,800 Asians and Pacific Islanders were trafficked into America out of an estimated 14,500-17,500 trafficked people. More recent reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime show that more than 1 in 3 human trafficking victims in Northern and Central America originated from East Asia, South Asia or the Pacific Islands, and most of them are trafficked to the United States or Canada.

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Why This Election Matters

ItTakesRoots

By Guest Contributor: Timmy Lu (@timmyhlu)

I’ve been voting and tracking national electoral politics since I was nine, when I voted twice for Bill Clinton in 1992.

Like a lot of immigrant and refugee kids, my parents relied on me to interpret American society for them, and politics — including filling out mail-in ballots — was one part of that responsibility. I was raised under the requirement that I know — and be able to talk about — American politics.

I’ve noticed something really different about this year’s election.

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Would Donald Trump still be a Freddie Mercury fan if he knew Freddie’s life story?

Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury

By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@LakshmiGandhi)

Before journalist Jarrett Hill broke the story of Melania Trump’s alleged plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s famous 2008 convention speech, it looked like one of the biggest social media moments of the night was the shock and dismay of music fans everywhere as Donald Trump entered the convention stage to the sounds of Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions.’

Reaction to Trump’s music choice was swift.

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The Mattering of Black Lives for Non-Black People of Color

#API4BlackLives-MN demonstrators in Minnesota. (Photo Credit: MSR-News)
#API4BlackLives-MN demonstrators in Minnesota. (Photo Credit: MSR-News)

By Guest Contributor: Cynthia Wu

I first became aware of Minnesota’s outlier status when I lived there between 2002 and 2006. The Twin Cities are vibrant havens for Native American life. Black heterogeneity invites East Africans and African Americans to commune and code-switch across their differences. The infamous anti-communism among Southeast Asians is absent; refugees of the Vietnam War vote for and run for office as Democrats. Minnesota was the lone dissenting voice to back Walter Mondale in the 1984 presidential election, when Ronald Reagan was swept into the White House following ballot box victories across America’s other 49 states.. Throughout much of America’s history, Minnesota has stood valiantly, if understatedly, in opposition to much of the rest of the country.

I lived in St. Paul, a half block away from either the right or the wrong side of a gentrification line, depending on how one sees it. Three buildings away, a poorly maintained apartment complex crumbled from neglect by its slumlord owner. An equal distance in the opposite direction stood a house that debuted the market with an asking price of over half a million. Just north, one might find an overpass for Interstate 94, which runs through the bowels of the old Rondo neighborhood. Every year, the predominantly African American former residents of Rondo host a festival to remember their beloved space, and to lament its destruction in the 1960s to make way for an increasingly automobile-centered society. Many of them were (and still are) reliant on public transport, yet they lost their homes to make way for our cars. In this and other aspects, Minnesota is typical—its inequities are congruent with those of the country at large.

On July 6, Officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled Philando Castile over during a traffic stop just five miles away from Rondo, in the nearby suburb of Falcon Heights. He had a broken taillight. When Castile reached to present his ID, Yanez panicked and fired five shots into his body in front of his panicked girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter. Castile died shortly thereafter in hospital.

The fact that Castile was African American is significant. Numerous studies, historic narratives and contemporary accounts testify to the existence of police aggression targeted at black people — an unbroken thread stretching from slavery to emancipation to the present day. That Yanez—whom Castile’s companion described as “Chinese” in the video she live-streamed of his killing—is phenotypically Asian is also significant. Days after Castile’s death, Yanez’s name and race – he is Latinx – were revealed to the public. Nonetheless, the questions surrounding race and solidarity between Black and non-Black people of color as raised by Philando Castile’s fatal shooting and its aftermath need some parsing.

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