McKinsey & Company: Asian American workers: Diverse outcomes and hidden challenges

Earlier in September, the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company published this Executive Briefing: ‘Asian American workers: Diverse outcomes and hidden challenges’:

Events since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the murder of George Floyd and the rise in anti-Asian violence, have increased the prominence and urgency of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the public conversation, including in the C-suite. Against this backdrop, our new report, Asian American workers: Diverse outcomes and hidden challenges, may be long overdue.1

While visible acts of violence against Asian Americans have garnered headlines, Asian Americans’ distinctive challenges at work have often been overlooked. The stakes of violent attacks and workplace challenges are different, but they have common roots in stereotypes and misconceptions about Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners—that is, outsiders. In our report, we use data and analysis to dispel these misconceptions, acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of Asian Americans, and propose next steps for leaders and organizations. More research needs to be done, but our goal is to spark an expansive, ongoing conversation about better inclusion and advancement for Asian Americans at work.”

I would agree that Asian Americans are often overlooked in the corporate world, especially when it comes to leadership – the often discussed ‘bamboo ceiling. this is particularly sad given Asian American’s outsized contributions to the American economy

There’s a ton of interesting data in the report.  Here are a few highlights:

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Asian American Medical Hazard: US Western States Drought

(photo credit: USDA)

It might be seem like a stretch to call the Western States Drought a medical hazard particular to Asian Americans, but one aspect of the drought will affects certain Asian Americans more drastically:  an increase in Valley FeverValley fever, also known as Coccidioidomycosis, long since since been a problem (an increasing one) in places like Kern County, in California’s hot and dusty San Joaquin Valley for which it is named, but more recently, it has been been found and discussed in locations such as Utah and Arizona (where the majority of cases in the US actually occur). While all racial groups are equally vulnerable to getting Valley Fever, some groups, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Filipino Americans, are exceptionally vulnerable for the serious and sometimes fatal version called disseminated disease, where it spreads beyond the lungs into the joints, brain, and other organs.

As cases have increased since I last wrote on this disease, so have research efforts on Valley Fever. Efforts have been long been underway to develop a vaccine for this disease since the 1960s.  Some progress has been made on a vaccine for Valley Fever in dogs, which like many other animals can also get the disease. A version of the vaccine for humans is said to be years away.

While African Americans, Hispanics, and Filipino Americans are particularly vulnerable to the severe forms of Valley Fever, other groups are vulnerable, such as the immuno-suppressed and women in their final trimester of pregnancy.  Recommended preventative actions include keeping dust away in areas where the the disease is common (e.g. stay inside, use recirculated air in a car during a dust storm, using an N95 quality mask). Climate change is thought to make this problem worse , so Valley Fever will be an increasing risk not only for Filipino Americans but for everyone through out the Western United States.

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8Books: Seoulmates by Susan Lee

Out today, Seoulmates by Susan Lee is a fun friends-to-lovers YA romance that tackles Korean American identity as all things Korean become popular in the U.S. It’s the summer before her senior year in high school and Hannah Cho thinks she’s got everything figured out. But then the summer before, her boyfriend Nate breaks up with her. And her former best friend turned K-drama superstar who she hasn’t spoken to in three years–Jacob Kim–is back. Meanwhile, all her friends are obsessed with K-pop and K-dramas and she doesn’t have a preference between BTS and EXO. Cue the drama.

This is the book for anyone looking that last grasp of summer. A grudge-fueled standoff and then reconciliation between old friends, a bucket list adventure through San Diego, K-drama fans and K-drama induced crying,  some adoring and meddling Korean mamas — and two teenagers trying to find their way. The chapters switch back and forth between Hannah, reconciling her Korean American identity, having long shunned her Korean side while trying to fit in, only to have all things Korean suddenly be mainstream, and Jacob, dealing with his new life as a successful actor and the stress of life as part of the K-drama machine. You’ll be cheering for them the whole way.

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TargetSmart: Asian American Voter Registration Trends in 2022

Chart of new AAPI registration in 2022 vs 2022 showing fewer Republican registrations

New AAPI Registrants: 2020 vs 2022 (photo credit: Tom Bonier)

I forget when I first started following Tom Bonier of TargetSmart (“a Democratic political data and data services firm”), but he had recently tweeted out some interesting Asian American voter registration stats:

From the most recent blog post on the 2022 AAPI Voter Survey, I had noted that Asian Americans 44% Democratic, 19% Republican and 29% Independent. If you don’t know what the Dobbs decision is, it is was the Supreme Court case ruling in June overturning of Roe v. Wade, which had allowed the legal right to an abortion nationally (as opposed to individual states deciding)

I imagine since Dobbs, more Asian American women have registered and have registered as Democrats or Unaffiliated as opposed to Republican. I know from following Bonier on Twitter that voter registration is trending to be more female, younger, and more Democratic. It’ll be interesting to see ultimately how this affects races and ballot measures (such as in Michigan’s abortion rights ballot measure) in November. 


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Asian American TV Trailer Watch: NBC’s Reboot of ‘Quantum Leap’

I remember the original ‘Quantum Leap’ TV series, which aired on NBC for 5 seasons from 1989 to 1993. I wasn’t a big watcher of TV back then, mostly because I was in college during most of that time and had little time to watch TV. There’s a re-boot, or more exactly I would say, a continuation of that series premiering Monday, September 19 at 10 PM (Eastern Time) on NBC.  The and a trailer was recently released:

“It’s been nearly 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now, a new team, led by physicist Ben Song (Raymond Lee), has been assembled to restart the project. Everything changes, however, when Ben makes an unauthorized leap into the past, leaving the team behind to solve the mystery of why he did it. At Ben’s side throughout his leaps is Addison (Caitlin Bassett), a decorated Army veteran who appears in the form of a hologram only Ben can see and hear.”

We don’t often see an Asian American male (or female for that matter) lead in a broadcast network television network show (in more recent years, ‘Fresh Off The Boat,’ ‘Dr. Ken,’ and ‘Selfie’ come to mind), so it’s exciting to see actor Raymond Lee playing the lead character. And more interesting to note, the character Addison as his significant other (from what we can tell from the trailer) as well as colleague.

I’m hoping the revival series is at least as good as the original. I’m sure the special effects are a whole lot better. To learn more, check out the show’s official web site.

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8Asians Exclusive: Interview with Jay Chen for Congress

(Full disclosure: I’ve donated to Jay’s campaign and endorse his run for Congress.)

The last time I had interviewed Taiwanese American Jay Chen was back in 2012 when I first met him at the 2012 Democratic National Convention (DNC). Recently, when Jay was in town, I had a chance to do a brief interview with him (see above). We talked about his candidacy, a woman right to choice, #StopAsianHate, Michelle Steel and the state of the race.

Since 2012, a lot has happened with Jay, including him having two kids as well as serving in the Middle East and Korea. Now he is running for Congress again in a newly re-districted California Congressional District 45, running against first term Korean American Republican Michelle Steel – which makes a very rare occasion in the US mainland of an Asian American vs. Asian American Congressional race – quite a rarity (to be honest, I don’t know if that has ever happened before?) – in a district which is 37% Asian (by population, 32% of the electorate).

Additionally, this Congressional race is considered one of the top 10 swing races in the nation, and the election has implications as to which party controls the House of Representatives. The New York Times did a timely piece on the race recently:

“Dozens of Vietnamese-speaking volunteers filled a community center on a recent Wednesday to phone bank for Representative Michelle Steel, Republican of California, a Korean American lawmaker whose campaign signs and fliers in Vietnamese and English lined the walls.

A few neighborhoods down, Jay Chen, a Democrat and Navy reservist of Taiwanese descent who is challenging Ms. Steel, passed out fliers outside of Zippost, a shipping business that residents often use to send packages to relatives in Vietnam. Mr. Chen, donning a Navy hat, walked around the plaza with a Vietnamese-speaking volunteer in tow helping residents register to vote.

Mr. Chen, the Harvard-educated son of immigrants who is a member of the board of trustees of Mt. San Antonio Community College and owns a local real estate business, said he has tried to appeal to right-leaning voters with his military experience. He served stints in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula with the Seventh Fleet, which helped evacuate refugees after the Vietnam War.

Ms. Steel, a former member of the county board of supervisors and a local business owner, is fighting to hold onto her seat in a changed political environment. She narrowly defeated Representative Harley Rouda, a Democrat, in 2020 in a district along the California Coast that leaned Republican, becoming one of the first three Korean American women to serve in Congress. But she was displaced by redistricting and opted to run in a new district that tilts slightly toward Democrats.”

The newly drawn district is +5% for Democrats (37.4% vs 32.6 Republican) in terms of voter registration. However, Steel is an incumbant with lots of name recognition due to her past elected service in the area. But in 2020, the district voted for Biden 52.1% to Trump’s 45.9%, and in the reent 2021 Gavin Newsom recall initiative, the retain vote got 53.4% vs. the recall vote ith 46.6% Steel barely won( 51.1% vs. 48.9) in her old district, which was at the time, 70% white (and in 2017 Cook Partisan Voter Index district was R+4). Steel has a much bigger hill to climb in this newly drawn district if she wants to get re-elected, and I’m betting that she won’t.

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Oakland Chinatown Hit Hard by Violence and the Pandemic

Even before the pandemic, Oakland Chinatown was struggling.  But since start of the Pandemic and the resulting increase in anti-Asian violence, 10% of Oakland Chinatown small business have closed.  The shooting death of beloved Oakland Chinatown dentist Lili Xu is yet another blow to the community.  Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce president Carl Chan calls the combination of violence and COVID-19 “a dual pandemic.”

In addition, inflation makes things worse for restaurant owners. As they are forced to raise prices as the prices of their supplies goes up, this threatens to drive off more customers. Continuing violence makes it even harder to recover as many potential customers, particularly the elderly, are too frightened to come out to patronize its restaurants. Many restaurants that survived doing take out business have yet to open in person dining. Says Tony Fong, the owner of the permanently closed Buffet Fortuna:

“There’s a way to contain the virus itself with vaccines and such. But if the public safety remains so bad, there’s no hope for Chinatown.”

The Blue Angels Patrol, a bilingual volunteer group, patrols Chinatown in an effort to deter crime.  They have done things like distribute airhorns, which are credited in saving a pregnant Chinatown business owner from a robbery. No breakthroughs in Lili Xu’s murder have been reported.  Oakland police are looking for help from the owner of a white tesla who may have recorded the killing.

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8Books Review: Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean

Mika Suzuki is standing in a Target of all places when she gets a phone call that will change her life in Emiko Jean’s heartwarming new novel, Mika in Real Life.

Sixteen years earlier, Mika had given up a baby girl in a closed adoption. Now her daughter Penny wants to get to know her. And Mika wants to be worthy of the daughter she thought she’d never get a chance to know. So begins an elaborate web of embellishments about Mika’s life that ultimately will force Mika to confront who she really is and who she really wants to be.

This whirlwind novel reveals so much about mothers and daughters and expectations–expectations we hold about ourselves and expectations we think others have of us. We get to see Mika figure out (or mostly try to at least) who she is to her daughter, to her mother, to the world, and to herself. The pages whirl by as Mika navigates the consequences of her choices: why she gave Penny up, what it meant to give her to a non-Japanese family in Ohio, the flaws of her past relationship, her mother’s disappointment. There are real highs and real lows throughout, moments when you cringe and moments where you’re full-throated cheering for her. And accompanying Mika are a delightful cast of characters, from her best friend Hana (hoarder and ASL interpreter to Pearl Jam) to Penny’s curmudgeonly widowed father Thomas.

Mika in Real Life is a perfect end of summer weekend read.

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Gonzaga Basketball Players Kayleigh and Kaylynne Truong land Endorsement Deals and fight Stereotypes

Photo credit: Gonzaga University

Before reading this article about Gonzaga Basketball Players Kayleigh and Kaylynne Truong, I had no idea about any Asian American women college basketball players, much less any who were Division I players much less twins. I also didn’t know about The Sideline Post, which is a platform for college athletes to tell their own stories. Given my ignorance, it was great to hear about these twins signing a number of endorsement deals, one with Degree (the deodorant manufacturer) for their Breaking Limits campaign and another with Timo, an online bank in Vietnam.

The deal with Degree is a Name Image License (NIL) agreement, which college athletes were recently allowed to make. Degree’s campaign is focused on helping developing athletes overcoming obstacles to achieve success. Kayleigh wrote about the challenges she and her sister have faced in this article for the Sideline Post.  She talks about the stereotypes they faced about Asian American athletes and how some people could not believe that they were aiming toward playing D1 ball, often assuming D2 was the best that they could do.  She also talks about often seeing her sister as the only other Asian American on the court. The twins say that they didn’t take the NIL just for the money but to be more widely present as role models for Asian American female athletes.

What is impressive is that Kayleigh and Kaylynne didn’t just make their team but are signficant contributors.  Kayleight was a starting point guard and was First Team All-WCC conference.  Kaylynne was on the WCC all-Tournament team and was the MVP of another tournament. In 2022, Gonzaga won the WCC Tournament and lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The twins were invited to play for Vietnam in the South East Asia games this past spring.  They describe their experiences in this clip.  I found it it interesting how much the international game is different, along with the differences playing 3×3 vs the American collegiate game.

Kayleigh and Kaylynne are rising seniors, and next year will be their last at Gonzaga.  You can follow the twins on twitter at @Twinballerz. The Sideline Post was founded by another Asian American college basketball player, Kayla Padilla and has other stories written by Asian American athletes.

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Pandemic Generates Discrimination against Asian American AirBnB Hosts

A recent study from from Harvard Business School concludes that the pandemic generated a 12% reduction in bookings for AirBnb hosts with distinctly Asian names compared to those with distinctly White names.  While the pandemic negatively affected all AirBnb hosts, Black and Hispanic hosts did not seem the same drop.  In a way, this shouldn’t be surprising, given previous studies that show how names can to enable action based on prejudices and stereotypes.

To deal with the problem, the study’s author suggest eliminating pictures and names of hosts before booking, only making these appear after booking, similar to how guests pictures only appear to hosts after booking.  AirBnB is says that it is looking at the study and points out that not all Asian American hosts have distinctly Asian names.  AirBnB also points out that the study had a small sample size – looking at 900 hosts in New York City.

The latest version of the working paper, called Scapegoating and Discrimination in Times of Crisis: Evidence from Airbnb, is available here. AirBnB launched Project Lighthouse in 2020 to deal with discrimination.

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Representatives Judy Chu & Grace Meng of ASPIRE PAC Visit SF

Grace Meng and Judy Chu

Representatives Judy Chu and Grace Meng – courtesy of 8Asians

A few weeks ago, I had learned of a fundraiser in San Francisco for the ASPIRE PAC , which I had not heard of before:

ASPIRE PAC is the political arm of Asian American and Pacific Islander Members of Congress. ASPIRE PAC stands for Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Rising & Empowering PAC.

ASPIRE PAC is focused on supporting candidates of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) descent and those that support and promote the issues of the AAPI community. ASPIRE PAC offers a voice for the AAPI community and encourages active participation in the U.S. political process.

ASPIRE PAC is chaired by Congresswoman Grace Meng, and was launched in 2011 by Congresswoman Judy Chu. We welcomed two new AAPI Members in 2020. Kaialiʻi Kahele, who is the is the second Native Hawaiian since statehood to be elected to represent Hawai‘i in Congress. Marilyn Strickland, who is the first Korean American Congresswoman and the first Black Congress member from Washington.

I’ve been blogging for 8Asians since January 2007 and my particular niche (although not limited to) has been politics, so I was surprised to only learn of this PAC recently. ASPIRE PAC had been primarily focused in the Washington, D.C. area, which didn’t make a lot of sense to me. But I’m glad ASPIRE PAC is starting to expand geographically to engage potential and actual donors. Since the minimum donation was $100 to attend the fundraiser, this was a no-brainer for me and a friend of mine to attend to learn more.

Representatives Judy Chu and Grace Meng, both whom I’ve met before, expressed the need to support ASPIRE PAC to support AAPI members in Congress, AAPI candidates, and other members who have been key advocates for our community.

Other Asian American Politcal Action Committees I have heard of include:

  • AAPI Victory Fund – “the first Super PAC of its kind – is focused on mobilizing Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) eligible voters and moving them to the ballot box.”
  • 80-20 Initiative – “dedicated to winning equal opportunity and justice for all Asian Americans through a SWING bloc vote, ideally directing 80% of our community’s votes and money to the presidential candidate endorsed by the 80-20, who better represents the interests of all APAs. Hence, the name “80-20” was created.”
  • Asian American Forward – “committed to supporting and furthering the presence of Asian Americans in American politics.”
  • Asian Americans Rising – “Our goals focus on three areas: 1. Building a pipeline of change makers 2. Pioneering what’s possible ​​3. Creating meaningful engagement”

Personally, I would like to see the reduction of the influence in money in the U.S. political system, not more. But until changes can be implemented for campaign finance reform like spending limits, public funding of campaigns, or other solutions, I’m for certainly getting more Asian Americans politically and civically involved and in elected office.



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Easter Sunday movie gets Jo koy the key to Daly City

Jo Koy’s upcoming movie “Easter Sunday” has earned him the key to Daly City in a ceremony on July 22, 2022. The Bay Area city known for its large Filipino American population is the setting for the movie.

Easter Sunday is schedule to be released widely on August 5.  Here is a trailer below in case you haven’t seen it.

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