UCLA Shooting Suspect Identified: Thoughts On Race, Violence, and Graduate Studies

Mainak Sarkar, in an undated photo. (Photo credit: UCLA)
Mainak Sarkar, in an undated photo. (Photo credit: UCLA)

Like many, when I heard that the UCLA campus was on lock-down yesterday due to an on-campus shooting, I braced myself for the worst. Many have scoffed that the spectacle of the mass shooting has become commonplace in today’s America.

Even so, I felt a growing despair as tweets began rolling in from students sheltering in place at UCLA yesterday. There is no story of mass violence that ends well: each is a gruesome spectacle of horror and tragedy, inevitably committed by a person who made the unforgivable decision to weigh their own private angst over the lives of the innocent.

But, yesterday’s events at UCLA gave me pause for extra concern. UCLA is one of the more racially diverse campuses in the United States with over one-third of its undergraduates self-identifying as Asian American or Pacific Islander. It is home to the nation’s largest Asian American Studies departments. I felt certain: a shooting at UCLA was almost certain to reverberate through the AAPI community in unpredictable ways.

I was saddened to learn this morning that — despite early reports that the shooter was a White male — Los Angeles police confirmed the identity of the shooter as former UCLA Mechanical Engineering graduate student Mainak Sarkar, a 38-year-old Bengali American scientist who received his  doctorate in 2013 and his US permanent residency in 2014. Sarkar is suspected of having killed two victims — his ex-wife, Ashley Hasti who was found dead in Hasti’s home in Minnesota, and his former graduate mentor, Prof. William Klug, who was shot in Klug’s office on the UCLA campus — before Sarkar took his own life.

Continue reading “UCLA Shooting Suspect Identified: Thoughts On Race, Violence, and Graduate Studies”

Asian American Adolescents Want To Talk To Us About Sex

(Photo Credit: iStock)
(Photo Credit: iStock)

A study that describes itself as the first to “specifically examine Asian American adolescents’ beliefs regarding discussions of sexual health between health care providers and Asian American adolescents” reports that Asian American youth have a lot of opinions about sex. Specifically, young Asian Americans stress that inadequate communication between themselves and their parents and healthcare providers compromises their access to adequate sexual education.

Researchers interviewed twenty young Asian Americans between 14 and 18 years old (median age was 16.7), with an even split between self-identified male and female respondents. Interviewees included Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipino, Thai, Korean and Laotian American teenagers mostly born in the United States.

In talking with these Asian American young people, investigators learned that many were dissatisfied with their own education on sexual health, and were motivated to learn more. Unfortunately, however, most of the adolescents expressed that their sources of knowledge on sex were limited: only 40% reported having had any conversation with a parent about sexual health. More shockingly, only 15% had ever discussed sexually transmitted diseases with a healthcare provider, and only 5% had ever talked to their doctors about sex, contraception, or pregnancy.

Continue reading “Asian American Adolescents Want To Talk To Us About Sex”

Study Recruiting Asian American Male Respondents To Explore Experiences of Gendered Racism

Justin Kim, the first Asian American male model on America's Next Top Model. (Photo credit: Matthew Vita)
Justin Kim, the first Asian American male model on America’s Next Top Model. (Photo credit: Matthew Vita)

A study being conducted by a doctoral student of Counseling Psychology at Indiana University under the training of Dr. Joel Wong is recruiting survey respondents to better understand how gendered racism might uniquely affect Asian American men. The student running the study — Tao Liu — has asked that I help publicize this work on the blog, in hopes of reaching out to a broad range of study participants.

I think this study — which I confirmed is registered with Indiana University – Bloomington’s Institutional Board (IRB #1503060816) — is very important. Our community’s nuanced relationship with racism and gender identity impacts our self-identity, and even contributes to the heightened prevalence of stress, anxiety and depression within our community. Yet, the experiences of Asian American men (and women) with regard to race and gender remain woefully understudied and under-appreciated in academic research.

This study offers a necessary opportunity to explore and understand the complex self-identity of Asian American men. As such, I strongly encourage any readers who think they fit the demographics of the study’s desired recruits to participate.

Please see the full  recruiting notice after the jump.

Continue reading “Study Recruiting Asian American Male Respondents To Explore Experiences of Gendered Racism”

Yes, Workplace Bias in STEM is Real: Whopping 100% of WOC Scientists Report Facing Racialized Gender Discrimination

asian-female-scientist

Last year, I wrote an overview about the obstacles that Asian American women in science, technology, engineering & mathematics (STEM) fields face. In brief, several studies have now revealed that the bamboo ceiling is more severe for Asian American female scientists than it is for men — despite similar graduation rates and qualifications, Asian American women endure greater obstacles towards grant funding and promotions, resulting in profound delays in career promotion within 15 years following award of an advanced degree. This trend is common to most women of colour scientists.

Now, a new study by investigators at UC Hastings, Columbia and Emory (“Double Jeopardy? Gender Bias Against Women of Color in STEM“) has shed some light on the workplace environment that women in STEM face, which may contribute to this persistent glass ceiling.

Continue reading “Yes, Workplace Bias in STEM is Real: Whopping 100% of WOC Scientists Report Facing Racialized Gender Discrimination”

LGBTQ Native/Pacific Islander youths (aged 13-18) most likely to self-harm, attempt suicide

Photo credit: EdBloomimage / Corbis via Time
Photo credit: EdBloomimage / Corbis via Time

A new study published two months ago in the American Journal of Public Health delves for the first time into the complex intersection of race and sexuality in mental health issues affecting the nation’s youth, and their results are telling.

Using survey data from 2005-2007, the group assessed the mental health outcomes of over 70,000 teens living in 14 districts, and which included over 6,000 sexual minorities. The group was able to for the first time disaggregate depression, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among teens by race and gender, and particularly with regard to often-times invisible racial groups — multiracial and Alaska Native / Pacific Islander youths.

In their study, the group found that regardless of race, sexual minorities are about twice as likely as sexual majorities to feel sad, and about three or four times as likely to self-harm or attempt suicide. The absolute numbers are also striking —  half of LGBTQ youth between ages 13 to 18 feel an unusual degree of sadness, and one in three have attempted suicide. One in three.

This finding can be nothing other than a profound and poignant demonstration of our society’s failure to provide LGBTQ youths the kind of supportive, accepting environment that they need to feel accepted.

Continue reading “LGBTQ Native/Pacific Islander youths (aged 13-18) most likely to self-harm, attempt suicide”