By Virginia Rohan
Woodland Park, New Jersey
November 8, 2009
Most Americans cannot make meaningful distinctions between Chinese-Americans and Asian-Americans in general, a new survey has found — most likely because of how little contact many people have with Asian-Americans, who comprise only 5 percent of the U.S. population.
"We live in New York and New Jersey, which is a very concentrated area," Yong Lu, research director for the Committee of 100, which commissioned the survey, told an audience in Paramus on Saturday. "But most of the American population don’t have the chance to interact."
The news is not all bad, however, said Lu, pointing out that "generally, the American public has a favorable view toward both Chinese [Americans] and Asian-Americans."
These were among the findings of "Still the ‘Other?’ " — a report on public attitudes toward Asian-Americans and Chinese-Americans. Lu’s presentation, held at Paramus’ UPS Information Services complex, was co-sponsored by the Committee of 100, a national organization of prominent American citizens of Chinese descent, and the New Jersey chapter of OCA, an Asian advocacy organization.
"We have experienced so much over the course of so many years with how Asians are treated in this country, and I think the study is very necessary to educate the public and the Asian-American population about how we are perceived in this country," said Mary Lee, president of OCA-New Jersey. "I think this study will enable everybody to more fully understand the various cultures involved."
"Still the ‘Other?’ " was released in April and is a follow-up to a 2001 survey on the same subject.
"Perhaps the most disturbing fact is that people have this suspicion about Asian-Americans, about their loyalty to America, and we found that the number is actually getting worse over the years," Lu said.For example, 35 percent of the general population believes that if there were a conflict between the U.S. and China, Chinese-Americans would actually support China.
"We suspect maybe it has something to do with the fear about China’s [economic and military] development recently," said Lu.
Paramus Councilwoman Maureen O’Brien, in the audience on Saturday, said she was surprised to learn of some findings and wanted to get more information.
"I always want to make things better, so as far as I was concerned, I came not just as an individual in Paramus but also because I am representing Paramus. I thought I should be here," she said.