AAPI Nexus: Welfare Reform Volume 5, Number 2 Winter/Spring 2007 Abstracts
“Whose School District is this?”: Vietnamese Americans and Coalitional Politics in Orange County, California
ABSTRACT: This essay discusses important lessons for community organizing based on the efforts by the Vietnamese American community in Orange County to have their voices heard in the decision-making process at the school district level. I document their struggle to reinstate Dr. KimOanh Nguyen-Lam, an experienced educator who is fluent in English, Vietnamese, Spanish, and French, as Superintendent of the Westminster School District (WSD) when her job offer was retracted without justification by the school board one week after she was hired. In this majority-minority school district, with Latinos at 38% and Asian Americans at 37%, she would have been the first Vietnamese American Superintendent of a public school in the country. I examine how community leaders organized multi-ethnic and -racial coalitions, engaged in collective protest, and focused their activities on electoral politics. The conflict revolves around which teachers are hired and promoted and who controls the content of the curriculum; yet ultimately, the Nguyen-Lam controversy represents the struggle over the allocation of public school resources and political power in a racially diverse school district. Key lessons can be learned from these events, especially the challenges of building coalitions within the Vietnamese community and creating multiracial alliances with the Latino community, which can inform future coalition efforts by refugee and immigrant populations.
From Merging Histories to Emerging Identities: An “Asian” Museum as a Site of Pan-ethnic Identity Promotion
Chong-suk Han and Edward Echtle
ABSTRACT: In this paper, we explore the significance of the Wing Luke Asian Museum (WLAM) in Seattle, Washington as a site where pan-ethnic Asian American identity can be promoted by analyzing the strategies employed by the staff and artists of the WLAM to promote, foster and disseminate a larger Asian Pacific Islander American pan-ethnic identity. We argue that museums are a significant site that can “provide a setting for persons of diverse Asian backgrounds to establish social ties and to discuss their common problems and experiences.”
Surveying Southeast Asian Welfare Participants: Examples, Challenges, and Future Directions
Evelyn Blumenberg, Lily K. Song, and Paul M. Ong
ABSTRACT: Numerous studies have examined the effects of welfare reform on the employment and caseload dynamics of welfare recipients in California. Yet, despite their overrepresentation among welfare recipients, Southeast Asians have received relatively little scholarly attention. This study explores one explanation for this finding-the challenges of collecting data on Southeast Asian welfare recipients and, in particular, the difficulties associated with surveying this population group. These difficulties include attracting adequate funding to recruit sizeable Southeast Asian samples,; translating survey materials into Southeast Asian languages,; and effectively administering surveys among a highly mobile population group with low English language proficiency. To strengthen research on this important but understudied population group, researchers must build political and financial support for such research; develop appropriate research designs informed by an understanding of the characteristics of Southeast Asian families, communities, and welfare recipients; rely on refugee support organizations to help overcome resistance to participating in survey research; and make the data available to interested scholars to maximize the impact of these data collection efforts.
Welfare Reform and the Delivery of Welfare-to-Work Programs to AAPIs: What Works?
Julian Chun-Chung Chow, Grace Yoo, and Catherine Vu
ABSTRACT: The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWORA) of 1996 has major implications for low-income Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the research currently examining the impact of welfare reform on AAPI recipients and the welfare-to-work services available to this population. This article highlights AAPI participation and their timing-out rates in California’s CalWORKs program and their barriers to transitioning to work. Four welfare-to-work program models and recommendations are presented to illustrate strategies that can be used to address the unique needs of AAPI in order to alleviate their high risk for timing-out: one-stop-shops, transitional jobs programs, providing comprehensive and family focused services, and additional research and evaluation of programs specific to assisting the AAPI population on CalWORKs.
Building Community Capacity For Rapid Response to State Health Crises: Learning from HIV/AIDS among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs)
Lois M. Takahashi and Michelle G. Magalong
ABSTRACT: Health crises have become a significant threat to the well-being and quality of life of California’s residents, with SARS and avian influenza the most obvious recent examples of such threats. The State of California has engaged in significant efforts at the state and local levels to devise plans and strategies to address emerging health threats, including rapid spread of infectious disease and bioterrorism, however, there remain significant gaps, particularly concerning the rapidity and effectiveness of communication to California’s growing immigrant population. We argue that enhancing community-based organization (CBO) capacity to address health crises such as potential pandemics is a necessary yet overlooked component. This article uses capacity building regarding HIV/AIDS prevention in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Southern California as a new model of emergency preparedness, one that leverages the untapped resources in CBOs.