Six Georgetown faculty members recently completed a report to President William Jefferson Clinton (SFS ’68) detailing the inadequacies of the federal government in serving Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. With a population of 10 million, AAPIs constitute a significant portion of the United States population and have been identified as “the fastest growing racial/ethnic population in the United States,” according to census figures.

The report found that they are significantly underserved by the federal government. The report is meant to promote an awareness of the interests and concerns of AAPIs, concerns that have been traditionally neglected by the federal government, according to its creators. It is also part of Clinton’s attempts to improve race relations in the country.

J.P. Singh, a professor in Georgetown’s Communications, Culture and Technology program, was the principle investigator for the report. He worked with Diana Owen, an associate professor in the government department, who analyzed the compiled data. Four other Georgetown professors also contributed to the preparation of the report, including Bonnie B.C. Oh of the School of Foreign Service, Colleen Cotter, of the linguistics department, Christine So of the English department and Linda Garcia, associate director of CCT.

Singh, who is new to Georgetown this year, initially became involved with the project through acquaintances involved with the White House Initiative on AAPIs. He then organized an interdisciplinary team of Georgetown faculty members to perform the research.

Research for the project began in August of last year under a grant from the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The report took nearly five months to complete and was presented by the White House Initiative to the President on Jan. 17.

The report includes two sets of data. The first is a series of statements gathered in town hall style meetings in New York and Los Angeles. Clinton appointed a commission of 14 members who comprised the town hall. All of the AAPI groups in the area were then invited to testify before the commission.

The second set of data is the result of questionnaires sent out by the White House Initiative to 33 government departments and agencies. The departments and agencies were required to outline what programs for AAPIs currently exist, what is lacking and what could be improved upon.

Singh said that the town hall meetings allowed the researchers to better understand the views of AAPIs living in the United States, while the questionnaires illuminated exactly where the federal government stands with regard to the ethnic population. By matching and comparing the testimonies and data from both sides, the report articulates some important discrepancies between the two.

Singh said that the lack of representation of Asian Americans stems from two main sources. First, he says that AAPIs are practically forgotten in history. He points out that Asian Americans and their contributions are seldom mentioned in American history.

Additionally, he said the myth of the “model minority,” a misconception that Asian Americans are “better” off than they actually are. The problem with this myth, as So explained, is that it has “perpetuated notions that AAPIs can succeed independently from and without the use of government programs and services.” For example, Hmongs, people from the Cambodia and Laos areas, have the highest poverty rate among Americans, at nearly 67 percent. Problems like these are often overlooked as a result of the myth, So said.

According to Owen, “The most recent census figures indicate that the AAPI population is the fastest-growing segment of the American population. These communities have specific needs that are not currently being met. Our hope is that the initiative will generate awareness of AAPI communities and their needs, that the federal government will continue its efforts to improve the situation of AAPIs in society and that the recommendations will be used by AAPI community organizations to work towards change.”

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