THE BLOG

Pew Research vs Asian Americans

04/04/2013 05:08 pm ET | Updated Sep 17, 2014

Recently, some legitimate questions have been raised about The Pew Internet and American Life Project's new "Demographics of Social Media Users" study for failing to include Asian-Americans. Unfortunately, Pew's response has only highlighted the glaring problem that for 20 years Asians have been regularly excluded from all of their research studies, not just this latest one on digital aptitude.

It is puzzling that Pew could so comfortably exclude Asian-Americans less than a year after another Pew report said, "At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, Asians have become the largest stream of new immigrants to the U.S. -- and, thus, the latest leading actors in this great American drama. The fact that they are coming at a time when a rising Asia is flexing its economic and political muscles on the international stage only adds to the richness of their unique American journey."

Pew says it is too time-consuming and costly to include Asians as a separate category in their studies. This is a hollow excuse for a behemoth and respected organization. The willful omission of Asian-Americans from serious studies like this is damaging. As was previously pointed out, there are negative consequences for those minorities left behind by Pew:

Government and non-profit funding for social, health and economic programs use these studies to make grant decisions. While national organizations like Pew marginalize Asian-Americans in their studies, critical research is left to smaller, regional groups and universities that don't have the same clout. If an audience isn't counted, it doesn't get any attention, funding or support for pressing issues. Consequently, myths about Asian-Americans as the "model minority" prevail. In the U.S., the common perception holds that Asians are harder working, more educated, higher earning and more successful than other ethnic groups...The successful Asian stereotype also means less than 1-in-3 Asian-American children receive mental health care treatment when parents determine there's a need, but fear the stigma attached to seeking treatment.

For an organization like Pew, one of the largest think tanks in Washington, D.C., it's not a legitimate excuse to claim they just don't have the capacity to study Asian-Americans. Leaving out one of the fastest growing populations in the U.S not only makes the study unrepresentative of the evolving American landscape but continues to marginalize this influential segment. This is particularly true in a study regarding social media usage.