Winston Chou


Winston Chou is a graduate student in sociology at UCLA. He is especially interested in issues of immigration and second-generation assimilation, but would almost always rather talk about obscure NBA players from the '90s. (Remember Chris Gatling?)

The Unwhitening of America

More than half of new births in the United States are nonwhite. So suggest the latest wave of 2010 Census Data, summarized here by William Frey of the Brookings Institution:
“The new Census results show 49.8 percent of infants under age one are members of a race-ethnic minority – up from 42.4 percent in 2000. Given this trajectory, and the fact that the Census was taken well over a year ago, it is almost certain we have now ‘tipped’ racially, and more than half of all national births are minorities.”
Unsurprisingly, these trends are driven mostly by demographic shifts in coastal and border states with large urban areas, like California, Texas, and Massachusetts.  The interior of the United States continues to be predominately white, though the trends suggest this may soon change as well. And significant differences exist between groups – Asian American babies, for example, continue to hover at between 4% and 5% of new birth cohorts, while multiracial and “Hispanic” births constitute most of the ongoing diversification of American cities.
These trends will of course raise obvious and necessary questions about how we describe the racial composition of the United States. But, as Frey points out, they’ll also lead to questions about more than just how we talk about race: there is a significant “cultural gap” between the white majorities who came of age before 1965 and those who continue to come of age during an era of racial diversification and robust immigration and globalization
Now, I don’t so much mind that Frey (and surely many others in the future) uses the metaphor of a “cultural gap” to describe the different experiences of whites, or that his usage of this metaphor strangely frames the rapid diversification of the U.S. as a white-centric phenomenon. It’s important to explore how whites come to grips with their declining share (and national ownership) of the American population. 
But it’s as, if not more important to remember that metaphors are inherently distorting, even in the hands of the most careful authors. Different races don’t have different “cultures” that map neatly onto their boundaries, and it’s more than a little Orientalist to assume that Latinos, Asian Americans, blacks, and the panoply of multiracial individuals that increasingly “fill in the blanks” between these groups possess tough “un-American” cultures that need to be chewed up and digested by the white majority. This assumption comes with an array of other, also implausible hypotheses: for example, that American culture is something stable and coherent that doesn’t change dramatically every generation, or that nonwhites aren’t part of the ongoing shaping of American culture.

So it’s important to scrutinize carefully the claim that the rapid “unwhitening” of the U.S. will somehow produce new cultural frictions. Americans, white and nonwhite alike, have been experiencing and adapting to the dislocations of time, generation, and culture for decades – if not centuries. Now, as then, there are vociferous struggles over national culture, and what it means (and takes) to belong to America. But now, as then, there will also be opportunities to invent new identities, to hybridize cultural practices, and to collaborate in the ongoing fashioning of American life.

More than half of new births in the United States are nonwhite. But it’s important to scrutinize carefully the claim that the rapid “unwhitening” of the US will inevitably produce new "cultural" frictions.

Inside the Outsourced Economy: Exploring Indian Call Centers

Undocumented immigration and outsourcing are perhaps the two most
frequently mentioned culprits of the job heist. The imagery of theft is
misleading, of course; undocumented workers aren’t “stealing” American
jobs so much as working ogrish caricatures of them. As for those working
outsourced jobs abroad? According to City University of New York
sociologist Shehzad Nadeem, their roles couldn't, paradoxically,
look more different from the very (American) jobs they’re meant to simulate.

DREAM Act Passes in House

News coverage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which passed by a thin margin in the House and will presumably be voted on today in the Senate, focused yesterday on the kind of polemical soundbites which have come to dominate public discourse on immigration. On the one hand, conservative senators called the bill a “nightmare act” that would further chip away at ordinary Americans’ tenuous economic footholds. On the other, liberals fruitlessly prodded their opponents with the provocative human element of the bill: at its core, the DREAM Act is meant to provide a path to citizenship for the several hundred-thousand undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. 

Of course, no representative thoughtfully considered the voices on the other side of the aisle and changed the vote they walked in the door with -- it’s pure naivete to think that any ever do.

Warriors Host Asian Heritage Night

No, we didn't land LeBron, Amar'e, or even Demarcus. But Golden State Warriors fans still have plenty to be excited about for the upcoming NBA season: new addition David Lee, rising star Steph Curry, and last season's sixth-leading scorer, Jeremy Li -- ahem, Monta Ellis.

Those of you who get all hot and bothered for independent Asian American periodicals and that wondrous article of clothing known as the "free T-shirt" can now add next Friday's Asian Heritage Night to that list.

Inception Gift Pack Giveaway

It's been a lucrative pair of weeks for Christopher Nolan. Inception, his new sci-fi dream-heist thriller, is perched atop the box office for the second straight week and -- no offense, Steve Carell and Zac Efron fans -- looks to hold that spot this go-around as well. The film, unlike most box office-rampaging mega-schlock, is no critical slouch, holding steady at 87% on Rotten Tomatoes and ranking well with the director's other dark, brainy, critically-adored flicks.

South Carolina Senator Knotts Calls Gubernatorial Candidate Haley "Raghead"

The heated race for South Carolina’s governership turned racist when State Senator Jake Knotts referred to Representative Nikki Haley as an “[expletive] raghead.” He later attempted to rectify his slur by saying he didn’t mean the expletive. As for “raghead?” Senator Knotts defended the word by arguing, “We need a good Christian to be our governer. […] We’re at war over there.”

Obama Shakes Up Student Loans

It's been a momentous few months since my last post here on Hyphen. Our site has undergone a pretty stunning redesign. Three of the NCAA's four number one seeds have been eliminated from March Madness. Only slightly more important: last week, the House and Senate approved a budget reconciliation bill that utterly overhauled the nation's health care insurance system.

Thoughts on Haiti and 'Temporary Protected Status'

4275395008_267fb8b37a.jpgIt's something that strikes me, just how briefly we've been here. My father remembers, however bare that memory may be, the year when Emanuel Celler, Philip Hart, and Ted Kennedy pushed through legislation abolishing the use of preferential quotas in determining immigration rights. That year, the trickle of immigrants from Asia turned into a flood.

Lou Jing and Racism in China

When my mother drives, she wears a plastic visor that juts out like the back of Darth Vader's helmet. Her friends wear gloves that unravel to the elbow and giant white windbreakers in 80-degree weather. My sister used to tell me how jealous she was when I came home, scorched brown from hours of basketball in my friends' driveways, and my parents would ask her: "Why would you want to get any darker? You'd look like a black girl."

On Godzilla, Ken Jeong, and the End of the World


In the terrible 1998 remake of the Japanese monster-flick Godzilla, the mayor of New York is an arrogant buffoon who nearly dooms the city. The rumor? The character -- Mayor Ebert -- is a stab at the movie critic Roger, who has blasted Emmerich in the past for an overreliance on special effects and spectacle, at the expense of character development and plot. Consider the opening paragraph from this, his review of Emmerich's 2004 film The Day After Tomorrow.

Anyway, I have a feeling that, upon watching the trailer for Emmerich's upcoming film 2012, Roger Ebert and I had the same reaction: not this shit again.

Second Perspectives on Noriko Savoie

It's probably ill-advised for me, as Hyphen's newest-minted blogger, to make this first sentence a critical one -- but I think it's fair to say that our vetting process needs a rehaul. It was a bit too easy for me to hoodwink everyone into thinking I could write intelligently about Asian America, when really I have no idea what Asian America is -- or, more accurately, where Asian America ends.

It's difficult, for instance, to locate in its borders the story of Christopher and Noriko Savoie. Rather than try to recap it all here, I'll point you to CNN's incipient report, as well as a post more sympathetic to Noriko at another blog.