A new report released Monday by Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy takes a rare look at an often overlooked subgroup of young people: Asian American, Pacific Islander and AMEMSA boys and young men. AMEMSA stands for Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian--it's a handy acronym worth remembering in a post-Sept. 11 U.S. context, where members of these communities often have overlapping experiences, but more typically, are seen as indistinguishable from each other.
So what ought we know about the boys and young men of these communities? Some of the facts may surprise you--and to the extent that they do, serve to highlight the grave misunderstandings the wider public has of Asian-American and AMEMSA communities broadly. Misunderstandings abound in part because of a stubborn model minority myth that suggests that all Asian Americans are wealthy, high-achieving and well-educated. The reality is far from that blanket picture. The U.S. Census Bureau's own "Asian" category now encompasses 23 different Asian subgroups, all of whom have vastly different migration histories and cultural backgrounds. Some Asians came to the U.S. as refugees of war in the 1970s, some as laborers in the 19th century, some as newly recruited engineers to the tech industry. With all that difference and with no unifying linguistic or cultural binder, Asians are a truly difficult community to categorize.
So what about those facts?