Not all brown people take stats

Dumb article, Nobody's Model Minority, in response to Jason Richwine's Indian Americans: The New Model Minority (H/T Steve), makes a pretty obvious error:

He presses on anyway, attributing Indian Americans' overall "success" in the U.S. to three factors: culture, education (that is, an "obsessive emphasis on academic achievement") and most significantly, IQ. This success is defined by the number of Indian Americans with college degrees (69 percent), their median head of household annual salary ($83,000), and their representation in high-paying fields like medicine and information technology. In other words, being a "model minority" boils down to one thing--money. But even this characterization is deeply problematic. Figures like median income are skewed by a few individuals at the top earning extremely high salaries. In fact, Indian Americans aren't just IT workers, engineers and doctors--they are activists, journalists, taxi drivers, sales clerks and more.

The author is confusing the mean with the median. The median is the 50th percentile, and less sensitive to extreme values. This the reason that income figures are often in median and not mean. In 2004 the mean household income in the United States was $60,000, but the median one was $43,000. I'm sure the latter sounds more familiar to you than the former, mostly because it's probably a better picture of the distribution for something like income that is skewed to the right. This little gem about diversity and skewness is one I recall being floated around Asian American activist circles to refute the Model Minority, but it is likely that most didn't really understand what skewness was but just used it as a clever rhetorical trick (kind of like how Creationists talk about the Second Law of Thermodynamics). The rest of the article is moronic pablum, and could have been produced by a haphazard Perl script. Then again these sorts of arguments are extremely persuasive to the set who are extremely focused on dismissing generalizations which they don't find congenial (e.g., there is variation in educational & income outcome by ethnic minority group) as opposed to those which fit their narratives (e.g., white racism is ubiquitous and the reason minorities suffer disadvantage & deprivation).

Note: I find it rather strange that one would have to mention that Indians work as sales clerks and cab drivers. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is arguably the most famous Indian American....

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A few months ago it looked as if Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Governor, was about to become more famous that Appu. In fact, he was touted as the Obama of the Republicans.

However, his pretty lame response to Barack Obama SOTU speech seems to have made him a long shot for any Presidential aspirations. Even conservative commentators could not whip up any enthusiasm. The contrast with the way Obama took his big chance at the Democratic Convention in 2004 speaks volumes. Jindal blew it.

I seem to remember that the Treasury official assigned to policing the Bush bank bailout was also an Indian-American. Wonder what happened to him!

From the same writer, in another article, about Bobby Jindal :
"Growing up as a Hindu with a name like Piyush (which remains his official name) couldn't have been easy in Louisiana, where two Indian doctoral students were murdered at LSU just last year."
Gee, one would almost assume that those 2 students were murdered precisely because they were indians ( by white priviledged middle class white males of course ) and not victims of the usual violent crime in Louisiana. I guess stats and logic don't matter when you`re "speaking truth to power" or whatever ..

By ogunsiron (not verified) on 16 Mar 2009 #permalink

I am an Indian American and we are not very popular these days. First there is Vikram Pandit, the embattled CEO of Citi, then the Obama folks talked about appointing Sanjay Gupta as surgeon general and Indira Nooyi to the cabinet and both did not happen, then we have Jon Alexander the Indo-American fashion designer in jail for rape allegations, we have Dr. Sandeep Kapoor who is indicted for overprescribing drugs to Anna Nicole Smith causing her death, then we had an Indian American sentenced to death in Atlanta for hiring a hitman to kill his black daughter in law, and finally the crowning achievement is the Indian American female legislator in a southern state who married a white American and passed for white in becoming a member of an all-white country club. Finally, a Professor at the University of Waterloo claimed that the Indian American IQ was near that of Africans and they got in due to affirmative action. Definitely not a valid claim. But Model minority? Hardly.

'and finally the crowning achievement is the Indian American female legislator in a southern state who married a white American and passed for white in becoming a member of an all-white country club."

Can some one please give url

By G.Subramaniam (not verified) on 21 Mar 2009 #permalink