Friday, January 20, 2012

In college admissions, some recommend "don't check Asian." Should Pacific Islanders not "check" Asian Pacific Islander?

Last month, newspapers across the country ran an Associated Press story on how some Asian students are responding to real or perceived anti-Asian admission bias by hiding their ethnicity when applying to college. The focus of this article is on Asians -- mostly multiethnic Asians, actually -- but there are implications for Pacific Islanders. 

We've written before about how Pacific Islanders are often mistaken for or lumped in with Asians, and how that leads to big misconceptions in the area of higher education attainment.  (A quick summary: Pacific Islanders are sometimes grouped with, or mistaken for Asians.  But neither Asian nor "Asian Pacific Islander" stats accurately depict Pacific Islanders because Asians have the highest level of college graduation among any of the major racial groups, while Pacific Islanders are significantly underrepresented among college graduates.) 

Reading this article, I wondered: if there's a bias against Asian college applicants and Pacific Islanders are mistaken for being/being the same as Asians, do Pacific Islanders face a bias as well?  The author suggests that the answer might be no, or at least not in her mind: she lists "Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders" among underrepresented groups that "might" have an edge over White and Asian applicants. But what happens when Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are only identified as Asian Pacific Islander? 

In other words, if there's a danger to Asians "checking Asian," isn't there a danger in Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders "checking" Asian Pacific Islander? 

Here's a link to the article: LINK


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