The So-Called "Silent Minority" Speaks
In the months leading up to the national election, the American news media has explored several demographic groups whose votes are up for grabs. The focus has largely been on African Americans, Latinos, and white female Clinton supporters; meanwhile, the Asian American vote (as though “Asians” can be qualitatively lumped together) has been largely overlooked. In her exploration of whether Asian Americans are considered “forever foreigners” or “honorary whites,” sociologist Mia Tuan paints a compelling picture of racialization in the United States. She argues that, despite their high rates of educational attainment and economic success, many Asian Americans are still perceived as “other.” A recent article on MSNBC.com explores the Asian American vote, and offers reasons for their burgeoning political participation in the upcoming election. One compelling suggestion, elucidated by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jeff Yang, suggests that Obama may represent the first Asian American president given his academic success, search for an identity, and outsider status. This identification may compel more Asian Americans, especially members of the 1.5 and second generations to support him. Although Tuan’s book, Forever Foreigners or Honorary Whites? was published nearly ten years ago, it is clear her exploration of racial identity is still highly salient among Asian Americans today.