•March 27, 2017 • 1 Comment

The pro-choice vs pro-life argument has taken place long before our current political climate, and so has the fight for female reproductive rights. It wasn’t until the 1960s that birth control became available — and even then, it wasn’t always accessible due to states opposing the sales of birth control pills. Women like Margaret Sanger advocated for birth control and a better way for women to take charge of their own health, strongly supporting the use of birth control so that women could control unwanted pregnancies to have have better and healthier lives. Sanger opened her own birth control clinic, and fought for women’s reproductive rights through lobbying for the legality of birth control in the US. More famously, the Roe v Wade decision of 1973 famously declared that state bans on abortion were unconstitutional.

Despite all this progress, Trump and Congress have pushed more and more votes and bills in an effort to repeal Obamacare and, in effect, defund Planned Parenthood by stripping all federal funding for the organization.

There is a common misconception here. Federal tax dollars do not go to paying for abortions. Instead, it goes to reimburse Medicaid claims, preventative medicine, cancer screenings, HIV tests, as well as to birth control.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would take away access to health care from patients who depend on Medicaid (60% of all Planned Parenthood patients do!). This is especially important because the majority of Planned Parenthood patients are people of lower income groups. In many cases, there aren’t enough other medical care providers, especially for reproductive health services, to replace Planned Parenthood in the event of defunding.This is not the first time that disadvantaged people and communities are placed in an even more disadvantageous position. In “Nuclear Wasteland”, Valerie Kuletz describes nuclear waste affecting indigenous peoples, writing that although it is an issue that affects all people, this “price we pay for our freedom…is paid by those with disproportionately less power” (Kuletz 95).

Defunding Planned Parenthood matters because access to healthcare should be a universal and basic right.

Safe access to birth control and abortions protects women. In an article about repealing the 8th, Leslie Spillane, an Irish women, wrote “Abortions happen, everyday. Making them illegal doesn’t stop woman needing, or wanting them, or inflicting them on themselves — there will always be coat hangers, broken bottles, painkillers, stairs to fall down, fists to hit, medicines to swallow” (O’Shea). Ireland is one example of what shutting down Planned Parenthood would do (SHUTTING DOWN not defunding).

Planned Parenthood has an estimate of 2.5 million patients. This means that one in five women in the United States visits Planned Parenthood at least once. The sheer number of people they help requires us to stop and re-evaluate the importance of this organization.

Planned Parenthood EDUCATES. For teens and children growing up in this country, Planned Parenthood often works to educate the public on their reproductive rights as well as sexual education. This helps to decrease the risk of unplanned pregnancies and prevents the spreading of STD’s and HIV. In “Greetings From the Salton Sea”, Kim Stringfellow investigates the Salton Sea issue, writing that “perhaps a better understanding of these interconnected processes will allow us to make much more informed political decisions regarding the environmental and ecological concerns of today and those of the future” (35). Similarly, Planned Parenthood spreads accurate information to voters and potential voters and actively promotes access to health care.

Works Cited

Haberman, Maggie. “Trump Tells Planned Parenthood Its Funding Can Stay If Abortion Goes.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.

“How Federal Funding Works at Planned Parenthood.” Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Planned Parenthood|. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

Kuletz, Valerie. The Tainted Desert: Environmental Ruin in the American West. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Stringfellow, Kim. Greetings from the Salton Sea: Folly and Intervention in the Southern California Landscape, 1905-2005. Chicago: The Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago, 2011. Web.


Following the Red Symptoms

•October 24, 2017 • 6 Comments

Preface: In my two previous blog posts, I wrote about the history of Sunset Park, as well as the concerning health statistics about the health of Chinese elders. In this blog post, on top of the previously cited statistical research, I aim to illustrate what I see when I enter the site in order to depict the current nebulousness that seems to exist underneath this neighborhood, especially the avenues that exist around Leif Ericson Park. In trying to figure out the boundaries of my ecology, it seems as if my topic of examination continues to focus on the instability and uncertainty that these seemingly rock-solid communities seem to rest on. What appears to be solid to the casual onlooker usually isn’t. Perhaps people nowadays cannot fathom a Sunset Park without the Chinese immigrant population, but wasn’t that the case for every community that ever existed? If you look at other similar neighborhoods (ex: Manhattan’s barely existing Little Italy), it is clear that history never, ever trumps future gentrification, environmental concern, nor does it guarantee any form of haven for its population.


A red plastic bag casually hanging off a tree in Leif Ericson Park in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

When I first visited Sunset Park, I solely explored the Leif Ericson Park area, the blocks and avenues directly bordering the park’s perimeter, and the three or so blocks that bridged Leif Ericson Park and the 8th Avenue Subway stop. However, as my curiosity grew and my routes began to branch out, I began trekking up blocks in the other direction, and as the sights in Sunset Park’s “Chinatown” grew more diverse, one color blared out from amongst the rest.

Red. Similarly to the tradition that informs Western couples to carry a something blue during their wedding day to insure a seamless, lucky, and happy union, the color red is the most auspicious color of all. Unlike carrying something blue, this tradition extends beyond a singular day or a few hours of someone’s life — this color is meant to be respected every day of one’s life and beyond, extending generations, extending human lifetimes. As I walked further away from Leif Ericson and into the heart of the Chinatown, the red that initially seemed like a nice afterthought, a pleasant embellishment on the monotony of everyday life, began to crowd the edges of my vision. With every exploration, I began to notice small things — bike seats with red bags and seat covers, red hats, red jackets, and red strollers. As I fell into rhythm with the “downtown” shopping and supermarket areas, it only grew — red Chinese characters, red signposts, and most noticeable of all, red plastic grocery bags. Nearly every shopper had a red shopping bag, and on the sides of street stands, there were red plastic grocery bag dispensers that lay casually against their sides. Its inherent normality stood out to me.


Found in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

I am not trying to say that Chinese people sit down and actively worship the color red, praying and muttering praises to this abstract deity — it is still just a color. Because it is a color, its meaning for so many other groups, organizations and identities in other areas of the world, or even the United States itself — fluctuates so much. In one decade, it is Communism (I’m looking at you, McCarthy). In another decade, it seems reminiscent of bloodshed in the brutal aftermath of war (or honestly, this decade, depending on where you geographically reside). For many years, people have associated it with Christmas and Santa Claus. Now, its brightness is infused within brands such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, eye-catching and commodifiable. On a more individual level, it is a color that can inform the way someone perceives the world around them.

Yet, the color persists in Chinese populations — intrinsically tied to the Chinese culture, it symbolizes Chinese identity to many, regardless of whether their nationality is American or Canadian (both of whose national colors also reinterpret the color red), purely Chinese, or something else. The belief of red as an embodiment and transmitter of luck has been hyper normalized — to many, this small facet of life is a fact. This shared thread is common knowledge, and in populations who are considered a minority population in the United States, especially elders, who tend to be less familiar with Western norms, this familiarity is tangible proof of the persistence of their culture.

The point of this blog article is not to sensationalize the existence of the color red — again, it is still a color, not an actual population — but to point out the significance of red in leading my line of sight towards these issues of precarity. When documenting Leif Ericson Park, elders gathered in plain sight, and while examining the parks’ alleviating effect on elders by its ability to provide a space of physical and mental exercise, when taking my photos and testing videos, I noticed that nearly every shot that I took had some form of red in it, some purposefully, many accidentally. Pillars, random facilities, bikes. I also examined the buildup of trash alongside the edges of the park, and there was red, yet again.

Clearly, this is intentional. Not to prove a point, but to reassure the Chinese community. After the elders leave these soothing parks and their recreation, they usually try to support their families in some way, as many immigrated to America for this goal in the first place. Thus, elders are amongst the most prolific of shoppers in supermarket districts and street stands. Chinese seniors tend to hoard items (as well as be stingy), and own an insurmountable amount of plastic bags. In a literal sense, they hold the weight of these lives, literally carrying the items they accumulate in America back to their apartment in these red bags.

Of course, plastic bags of any kind, including red, are bad for the environment, and recent measures to limit these plastic bags bring about a host of contradictory positions. While many Chinese Americans and immigrants who live in these populations most likely care for such environmental issues on some level, other pressing concerns end up taking precedent above such measures — in aligning these two cultural situations, Chinese populations in America tend to stoutly stick to whatever pattern of living regimens that works for them, which creates an insulating environment. This is out of self-preservation (the need to connect with their environmental culture on a consistent level to survive and thrive) and tends to limit the amount of assimilation that can occur.

This level of insidious reliance has shown itself in small ways — in an effort to be more environmentally friendly, NYC has proposed multiple times that a bag fee be put on plastic bags. This would be the definitely more environmentally friendly way to go. Unfortunately, “opponents of the bill have said a bag fee would hurt low-income families and senior citizens when they shop for groceries.” (Huang) Brooklyn Senator Simcha Felder, whose district includes Sunset Park, said that “‘The city’s fee…would place an unfair burden on the working class.’ While wealthy New Yorkers can afford to have their groceries delivers…’People in [his] district go to the grocery with a shopping cart, and they schlep these groceries home, and they need those bags.'” (Santore) The law wasn’t passed, and of course, these plastic bags continue to be a problem.

While my ecology isn’t focused on plastic bags per se, such as shown in the cases of environmental concerns, it is an example of the contradictions that exist in trivial seeming moments of Chinese seniors everyday lives, which are not going to go away.
Such struggles have been noted medically — for example, NYU Langone’s Health Center  has worked with the Chinese-American Planning Council, and has recently stated that they were “looking for bright and compassionate individuals to provide weekly individual psychoeducation sessions to improve elders’ mental health. Individuals hired will be thoroughly trained on an evidence based curriculum grounded in cognitive behavioral therapy to help elders better deal with stress, depression, and anxiety as part of the Positive Minds – Strong Bodies research project.” (NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health).


Huang, Pearly. “Red Plastic Bags All Over Chinatown.” Open City, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 2015,

Mei, Steve. “Part-time Community Health Worker (CHW) Position.” NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health.

Santore, John V. “NYC Bag Fee Overturned By State Senate.” New York City Patch. Patch Media, 2017.

poverty, gentrification, and cultural preservation

•October 24, 2017 • 2 Comments

The unseen struggles of Asian Americans in Flushing are the ones that most need to be addressed. According to the 2011-2015 census reports (FactFinder), the 2011 median household income was $44,587 for the average household. This holds a poverty rate of 18.3%. In 2015, this number shot up to 21.5%, with the median household income dropping to $39,168. However, the employment rate has dipped from the 2011 number of 56.7% to a more recent 2015 number 52.5%. What changed within these five years?

The constantly-fluctuating demographics could be the cause, but it could also be rooted in the emergence of invasive chain stores in the area. When you walk around Flushing, poverty is very visible— as is the ongoing business gentrification in the area. On Main St, you can see Duane Reade, Starbucks, Modell’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King stores spread evenly throughout the produce stands, bubble tea shops, and grocery stores. There is a visible cutoff on the Northern and Southern ends of Main St where the Chinese, fruit and fish stands, and bakeries end and the buildings are tall and modern again.

When you deviate from Main St, however, you can begin to see signs of poverty. The stores sizes are staggeringly small, with some only being a couple square feet— any business is done at the window, or from a stand outside the storefront. Food sells for $1-$2 instead of the Flushing standard of $7-8. The owners of these stores barely speak English, as they rarely cater to non-Asian people. In fact, according to NeighborhoodScout, a total of 36.7% of the Flushing population do not speak English well (or at all). Flushing also has an incredibly high percentage of foreign-born residents, with a total of 67.5%.

Many struggles of immigrants are unheard due to lack of visibility. Flushing is comprised of a majority Asian population (88.6%), with considerable Hispanic (14%) and White (11.4%) populations as well (StatisticAtlas). Only 18.6% of this population has completed college with a Bachelor’s degree, 14% have completed high school, and over 31% have an education level of less than high school (NeighborhoodScout). This, combined with the rising poverty level, makes it hard for immigrant communities to support immigrant business when they are pitted against cheaper industrialized goods.

There is the underlying poverty that many immigrants have no choice but to experience, and there are efforts to make the area “nicer” with Starbucks’ and “cheaper” with Duane Reade stores. This not only makes it difficult for immigrants to support their own community, but also to preserve their own cultural identity. There is a form of cultural erasure that comes with gentrification— especially gentrification within businesses and food-related businesses. With a desperate need to address financial issues, it is difficult to find a balance between improving the living conditions of these communities and turning the community into a completely different (American) entity.

Works Cited

“Race and Ethnicity in Flushing, New York, New York (Neighborhood).” Race and Ethnicity in Flushing, New York, New York (Neighborhood) – Statistical Atlas,

“Queens.” Flushing Queens, NY 11354, Neighborhood Profile – NeighborhoodScout,

“Flushing Neighborhood in Flushing, New York (NY), 11354, 11355, 11357 Detailed Profile.”Flushing Neighborhood in Flushing, New York (NY), 11354, 11355, 11357 Subdivision Profile – Real Estate, Apartments, Condos, Homes, Community, Population, Jobs, Income, Streets,

Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). “American FactFinder – Community Facts.” 5 Oct. 2010,


Blog Post #3

•October 24, 2017 • 1 Comment

Making weekly trips to Flushing, Queens has been interesting and insightful. When I picked my ecology, I never thought that there would be so much surrounding material that would be so intriguing. Through my research, it is clear that bioswales are much more than what meets the eye. One great example of this is how the city tries blend them in by calling them “rain gardens”. If you were to be walking down the street and saw these indented structures called “rain gardens”, I doubt that you would immediately assume that something that sounds so harmless could be so precarious. Everything from the creation to the construction all the way to the implementation of bioswales is heavily mediated at an attempt to avoid pushback from neighboring residents. However, despite the cities best efforts, residents and neighbors notice and do not stand behind them.

Through my pictures I am trying to convey as best as possible the full picture of what bioswales leave behind. Some of these things include: trash, pollutants, mud pits perfect for mosquito breeding, and many times disturbances to the homes that they are built in front of. Bioswales are built regardless of what their neighbors have to say and I believe that this is an issue that runs much deeper and goes into the issue of placement of such structures in neighborhoods of lower socioeconomic status. For this very reason while thousands of bioswales have been built in parts of the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn there are yet signs of any in Manhattan.

Not only has research been a very strong indicator about the precocity that bioswales cause, but through my photographs and even through my audio sounds and images of unbalance are noted. Through my photographs in Flushing, particularly in the areas surrounding the bioswales, it is clear how heavy on construction and on garbage these sectors are. Through my audio is very noticeable the intense air pollution that is constantly going on. While New York City has made air pollution a norm, it is important to remember that in fact it is not normal.

While bioswales in theory bring about some positive effects, I hope to convey through my website how severely the bad outweighs the good when it comes to bioswales.


Works Cited:


Experiences of Filipino Domestic Workers, And Woodside as an Outlet

•October 24, 2017 • 7 Comments

A few days ago on a Sunday afternoon, I was invited to attend a workshop organized by the Damayan Migrant Workers association on uptown Manhattan. I did not really know what to expect, other than the fact that I was informed by the director that we would discuss labor trafficking and signs of trafficking. Most of the participants in the workshop were either labor trafficking survivors, or were attending the event to learn more about trafficking signifiers within the context of their own employment. I ended up being accepted with welcoming hands by a group of amazing, bubbly Filipino women who were immediately shocked that I was taller than them by a longshot. It wasn’t an environment that was charged with tension and fear, but one of understanding, welcoming, and warmth. To me, this is the kind of familiar and motherly charm that is distinctly Filipino. We shared a potluck of Filipino food and socialized with each other before starting the workshop.


The director of the workshop presented a “Means of Trafficking” poster that grouped signs on how a worker is kept in an abusive situation. This was when many of the workers in attendance really started sharing their experiences, which coincided with the factors that the poster highlighted. Many of the workers gave examples of verbal abuse: “You’re so stupid”, “You don’t know anything”, “use your common sense”, and even threats about deportation like “I’ll buy you a ticket back to the Philippines”. It was quite an eye opener to me, for when they mentioned these examples, many of the workers nodded their heads in agreement about the commonality of these phrases.

Filipino domestic workers are quite literally, everywhere. “In Asia, the Middle east, Europe, and North America, [the prevalence of Filipino domestic workers is] a ubiquity that has given rise to Filipino women being stereotyped as domestic workers. In at least two instances, the word “Filipino” has come to mean domestic worker, a development which has been rued in the Philippines as one of the social costs of exporting poverty.” (Maruja M.B Asis) In New York for example, the exportation of domestic work has flourished due to the demand for child care. “There are almost 400,000 children under thirteen in New York City whose parents both work, and fewer than 100,000 places for them in after-school and day-care programs. The demand for child care at home has been met by an unregulated patchwork of agencies, a few experienced nannies, and thousands of immigrant women looking for jobs that require no training, no degrees, and often, no papers” (Susan Cheever, 32). This large exportation for child care and domestic labor, while somewhat beneficial to the Philippine economy, has simultaneously hidden the complex and emotionally straining lives that these women go through.

According to María Ibarra, a professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at San Diego State, these domestic workers are known as “emotional proletarians” as they “produce authentic emotion in exchange for a wage” (Rachel Aviv, New Yorker). This emotional exchange is a defining factor as a domestic worker, creating that motherly energy that I was familiar with back in the workshop, and at home. It’s important to note that these women often leave their children and family back in the Philippines, in order to take care of other children. This can be emotionally tolling, as explained by Emma, a domestic worker featured in a New Yorker article. “I told myself, ‘It’s time to take care of these kids,’” she said. “I took my love for my own children and I put it on these girls. I treated them as if they were my daughters.” (Aviv, New Yorker). The lack of familial presence, and isolative factors that are embedded in domestic work is the exact precarity that my website is curating, so that these usually hidden stories are unearthed in a way that really emphasizes the importance of these women in our society.

Woodside, otherwise known as ‘little Manila’, is the exact ecology that allows for these women who, usually isolated in their jobs, are able to conglomerate and socialize with each other. “More than thirteen thousand Filipinos live in the blocks surrounding Roosevelt Avenue, under the tracks of the No. 7 subway line, which takes them to Times Square. The avenue has evolved to meet the needs of female migrants: there’s a shop specializing in uniforms for nannies, housekeepers, and home health aides, and several freight and remittance centers, where workers send their earnings and gifts to their families” (Aviv, New Yorker). This town has become a portal for them to reach a culture and familiar setting that Is as close to home as they can get here in New York. Surrounding themselves with fellow Filipino migrant workers, and other OFW’s, distinguishes Woodside as an outlet to temporarily leave the emotionally tolling, and isolative nature in domestic work.


Aviv, Rachel. “Mother for Hire.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 12 Oct. 2017,

Hochschild, Arlie, et al. “The Nanny Dilemma.” Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy, Owl, 2004.

Huang, Shirlena, et al. Asian Women as Transnational Domestic Workers. Marshall Cavendish Academic, 2005.


Flushing the Korean Elders in Flushing

•October 24, 2017 • 1 Comment


After the Immigration Act of 1965 was removed on Asian migrations, the number of Korean immigrants in the United States grew rapidly; the population increased drastically, from 29,000 in 1970 to 290,000 in 1980, then nearly doubled in 1990 from 568,000 and to 1.1 million by 2010 (Zhong). And by 2015, approximately 1.2 million Korean immigrants reside in the United States, representing 2.4 percent of the entire U.S. immigrants. Out of the Korean immigrants, 9% reside in New York, but the problem rises here(Zhong). Compared to the other foreign-born population and native-born population immigrants, respectively 44 and 36,  the median age of Korean immigrants was 46 years—slightly older than the overall US immigrant population and the native-born population. Because in the recent years, the Korean immigrant population in the United States has been increasing at a decreasing rate, slowly remaining been seen as stagnant— and due to this rate, of the total population of immigrants, 17% are aged 65 and over.


Despite the increasing rate of the Korean immigrants aged above 65, and the decreasing rate of immigrants under 18, the senior care center for Korean elders remains the same; and as Abraham Lee, the president of the Bronx Korean American Senior Citizen Association said,  “No space, no money, that’s the problem”. Although the population of the elders and elders living alone in foreign country like US are increasing, the help available remains the same, or even decreasing because of the increasing prices of the general product.


In order to help the elders that are about the age of my grandparents back home, living alone, I hope to research and build awareness about the Korean immigrants aged 65 and over. My research of the ecology of Flushing is based on  Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska’s essay on Life After New Media, and specifically on their theory of Creative Media Project. As they divided this practice into  3 steps, I followed their step when researching my precarity of the elders in need of help, but couldn’t get it due to shortage in availability. First, I asked the question, how can I relate to this issue? What can I do to solve this issue? How can I properly deliver what is going on and why this issue needs attention of the people? Secondly, I fixed and revised my approach — through multiple proposals and visits to the center, I was able to grasp that there cannot be a clear solution, and rather altered my approach to spread and target the awareness to a bigger audience. Lastly, their step was to “Try again. Fail again. Fail better”. Through multiple forms of media: word, audio, photos and video clips, although I cannot grasp the entire issue into these forms, I hope to grasp at least some idea of the precarity that exists in New York despite different ethnicity.


Zhong, Jie , and Jeanne Batalova. “Korean Immigrants in the United States.”, 8 Feb. 2017,

Hu, Winnie. “Bronx Koreans Cope as Their Population Shrinks.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Apr. 2015,

Layers & Dynamics in Gentrification

•October 24, 2017 • 4 Comments

After more ethnographic study of the Bushwick gentrification, I found out that the issue is much more complicated than what people would usually describe in media. Because the different people living in the space, even just the gentrified ones, are so different in social backgrounds and economic abilities, each of their narratives of gentrification could be very different.

To start with, there are definitely many people who are forcibly displaced into further neighborhoods, and they are the ones who are most victimized by the issue. The new real estate developers would usually buy off an entire block of buildings with the goal to make them look more attractive for the young professionals, artists or students. As these buildings become unaffordable for the gentrified ones, they are forced to move out of their homes. “It’s becoming a very hot area … and they don’t want it to be known as a Puerto Rican or Spanish area anymore,” according to a Brooklyn-based real estate developer, “I think it would help the image of the area [by changing that culture]” (Malika Giddens, 2014). As the “locals” gradually become the outcast of the new gentrifier culture, they could in worse cases be bought out or harassed out of their homes.


These victims of gentrification are usually those who don’t have a stable income, and, in many cases, illegal immigrants. Because of their illegal status, they mostly live on small business such as deli shops, fruit stands, street food stands, hair salons, and small restaurants. Even though some of them have better economic ability, they cannot buy their own real estate properties, and do not dare to fight against the powers because of their illegal status. Once gentrification happens, they have no choice but to find the next place for home.

However, this unfortunate narrative of being forcibly displaced does not apply to all the gentrified ones. There are many local Latino-origin immigrants who are actually happy to see the changes of the neighborhood. In some of the people that I interviewed, they were enthusiastically describing how nice is Bushwick now. Living in the neighborhood for more than 15 years, they talked about how it used to be a placed full of drug dealers and gunshots. They believe that it is only after the “white people coming in” that Bushwick started to get nicer and safer. “Before I would not sit here like this,” an Ecuadorian guy told me in Maria Hernandez Park in a Sunday afternoon, “right now I don’t need to worry about someone who might scare me from my back.” Having lived in the “dark time” of Bushwick in the 80s and 90s, these residents really appreciate the peace of the neighborhood after the government and the developers started to step in and made it more desirable.


The term gentrification is very complex and there are so many dynamics if we study deeper into it. However, this blogpost does not conclude all the affects, as what Teresa Brennan would argue, in Bushiwick gentrification. Apart from the affordability and displacement issues, there are also many cultural aspect such as what many people would call “neo-colonialism” that I still haven’t look into (Rowland Atkinson & Gary Bridge, 2-3). Therefore I wish that I could discover more invisible affect that the Bushwick gentrification is causing in my following research.

Culturally-Sensitive Services in Asian-American Communities

•October 24, 2017 • 3 Comments

In the United States, 5.6% of the population identifies as Asian or Asian-American. In other words, 17 million people in the United States identify as “Asian,” whose origins could be from any of the 48 UN-recognized countries in Asia. While this moniker seems to serve the needs of the US Census Bureau in aggregating statistics, it seems just “a bit” oversimplifying to treat Asian-Americans as a single group. In 2016, the US Census reported 7.3% of Asians were not covered by any form of health insurance (government or private) (Barnett and Berchick). This percentage was the second lowest among the ethnic groups the report covered which included Black (10.2%) and Hispanic (16%)–the group with the lowest uninsured rate was white non-Hispanic (6.3%). The uninsured rate across all demographics has steadily decreased throughout the years–which suggests more Americans are able to access the health treatments they need. While it’s great that this report suggests Asian communities are also benefiting from these services, it erases the stigmas and inequalities faced by different Asian groups.

Ultimately, treating Asians as a monolith further perpetuate the “model minority” myth. The myth of the well-adjusted Asian originates from early reports that were conducted in English. Language is one of the largest barriers in Asian-American communities,  so because recent Asian immigrants were limited in their English fluency, their survey answers were ineligible for use in research studies. Thus, much of the research on Asian-Americans comes from English-speaking and more assimilated individuals who have more education and higher incomes (Kim and Keefe 288). This in turn has led to categorizing Asians as a single group and underrepresented Asians in existing research, which deprives ethnic groups who require more attention from receiving help.

More studies are recognizing this issue and disaggregating data, but there is still a limited understanding of Asian-Americans as a whole. From 2010 to 2014, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics reported 10.4% of all Asians felt to be in fair or poor health, which is 2% lower than the total US population (Almendrala 2). Again, while this seems like a positive reflection of Asian-American wellness, the study disaggregated this data into the six most-populated ethnic groups in America (Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese). This revealed Vietnamese-Americans seem to have the worst overall health at 16.8%, Filipino-Americans are more prone to chronic illnesses (22.3% compared to 16.3% of all Asians and 24.1% of all US), and Korean-Americans are more likely to say their health interferes with their daily social lives (4.6% compared to 3% of all Asians and 3.9% of all US).

However, researchers not involved with the study suspect even this data may be skewed because of cultural and linguistic barriers are still at play when collecting these reports, especially since past US Census data reveals only 45% of Chinese or Korean speakers consider themselves proficient in English and only 40% of Vietnamese speakers feel say they speak English “very well” (Almendrala 5). Additionally, most of the interviews were not conducted by trained professionals but by family members which could also taint the results because of cultural stigmas towards sharing sensitive information about health issues. Even with an official interpreter conducting the interview, many are hesitant to discuss their problems because of fears that they won’t respect confidentiality in the larger Asian-American community. There is also the issue of health literacy and understanding disease. Especially in older generations, many only seek healthcare when their symptoms are too sever to be treated with standard care.

Due to all of these factors, it seems clear that one of the major barriers to understanding and addressing the needs of Asian-Americans is the availability of reliable, consistent, and culturally-specific resources. My ecology explores the role of local centers which not only assist Asian-Americas in navigating the healthcare process, but also provide a social and cultural space to foster a sense of community for Asians. Studies about Asian-American healthcare suggest that “the presence of an expert who understands Asian American culture and expressions of illness can help remove the barriers to healthcare. In fact, Asian Americans’ perceptions of cultural, gender, and linguistic sensitivity have been found to predict more help-seeking behavior” (Kim and Keefe 289). The site my ecology is particularly researching is the Chinese-American Planning Council in Flushing. CPC’s mission is to serve the Chinese-American, immigrant, and low-income communities in New York through educational, social, and community services. This includes multilingual services to apply for low and no-cost insurance, Medicaid and Medicare assistance, immigration consultations, youth programs, workforce development, and senior services. By creating a communal space for Chinese-Americans, CPC’s services are not only physically accessible to residents, but the center itself provides a safe and familiar space to create a sense of trust and reliability between the clients and the center.

However, CPC is a New York-based organization with locations concentrated Chinatown, Sunset Park, and Flushing. CPC is able to reach out to Chinese-Americans in these sites, but, like many local organizations, it has limits on whom it can reach and how far it can extend their resources. While organizations are able to respond to healthcare and social issues faced by the local community, they do not have the bandwidth to conduct large-scale research to better understand the overarching needs of Asian-Americans. Thus, health and social policy analysts must look more closely into native language, ethnicity, culture, health literacy, and immigrant status to understand the emotional, physical, and political aspects of different Asian-American groups. Experts who understand Asian-American culture can mitigate the effects of healthcare barriers and develop policies that meet the needs of specific groups (Kim and Keefe 291). By understanding and adapting to the cultures, there is also a greater likelihood that these communities would be more willing to seek out assistance from healthcare providers, which in turn would feed back into better understanding and responding to Asian-American health needs.

Works Cited
Almendrala, Anna. “What The Government’s Latest Asian-American Health Report Got Wrong.” HuffPost. 2016 May 20.

Barnett, Jessica C., and Edward R. Berchick. “Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016.” Report Number: P60-260. United States Census Bureau. 2017 September 12.

Kim, Wooksoo, and Robert H. Keefe. “Barriers to Healthcare Among Asian Americans.” Social Work in Public Health, 25:3-4. 2010. 286-295.