something is missing

The New York Times has a fascinating piece with some interesting data-visualizations on money, race and success that compares all of America’s largest racial-ethnic groups…. except for Asian Americans. Apparently, they left out the 4th largest racial demographic (or ~18M people), because “Reliable estimates were not available for Asian-Americans.”

But the statistics on Asian Americans can be found in the article’s own published dataset (just click the bubble plots in the chart)! How can they leave out millions of people when the topic is something as important as race and privilege in America? Unfortunately, when it comes to articles on race, Asian Americans often get elided because by including them the data no longer presents a picture of the America they are trying to paint (where all minorities are subordinate to white privilege).

From now on, I will point these articles out whenever I see them, because it is both unfair to Asian Americans, who deserve to be represented accurately, and unethical to Americans in general, who get only a partial (some might say distorted) portrayal of what’s really going on. When people don’t see the full picture, it’s easy to draw inaccurate conclusions about the causes of inequality (which are complex and too easily blamed on race alone). As Razib Kahn, an Asian American blogger who routinely complains about this very thing, said in a piece he wrote today, “Asian Americans are often simply bit characters in a drama involving broader social and political streams which dominate the political landscape….many liberals erase Asian Americans from the landscape of our culture if it does not serve their framework of white privilege uber alles. “