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The Marginalized "Model" Minority: An Empirical Examination of the Racial Triangulation of Asian Americans

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In this article, we propose a shift in race research from a one-dimensional hierarchical approach to a multidimensional system of racial stratification. Building upon Claire Kim's (1999) racial triangulation theory, we examine how the American public rates Asians relative to blacks and whites along two dimensions of racial stratification: racial valorization and civic acceptance/ostracism. Using selected years from the General Social Survey, our analyses provide support for the multidimensional racial triangulation perspective as opposed to a singular hierarchical approach, although findings do not match all predictions by the racial triangulation thesis. Our results also suggest that on average whites are more likely than blacks to have more favorable views of the relative positions of Asians, particularly for family commitment, nonviolence and wealth, but blacks are more likely to assume racially egalitarian views than do whites.
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Social Forces 00(00) 1–35, 2013
doi: 10.1093/sf/sot049
We are indebted to Jeff Dixon, Gilbert Gee, Fang Gong, Carolyn Kapinus, Josh Klugman, Hiroshi
Ono, Lisa Pellerin, Brian Powell, Quincy Stewart, David Takeuchi, and Wenquan Zhang for provid-
ing useful comments.
An early version of this paper was presented at the 2009 American Sociological Association Annual
Meeting in San Francisco and won the most creative methodology award at the Diversity Research
Symposium hosted by Ball State University.
This work was partly supported by the Fisher Research Fellowship and an ad hoc grant awarded by
Ball State University to the first author; all rights reserved and the usual disclaimers apply.
Asian Americans, Race Relations, Triangulation
The Marginalized “Model” Minority: An Empirical
Examination of the Racial Triangulation
of Asian Americans
Jun Xu, Ball State University
Jennifer C. Lee, Indiana University
In this article, we propose a shift in race research from a one-dimensional hierarchi-
cal approach to a multidimensional system of racial stratification. Building upon
Claire Kim’s (1999) racial triangulation theory, we examine how the American public
rates Asians relative to blacks and whites along two dimensions of racial stratifica-
tion: racial valorization and civic acceptance/ostracism. Using selected years from the
General Social Survey, our analyses provide support for the multidimensional racial
triangulation perspective as opposed to a singular hierarchical approach, although
findings do not match all predictions by the racial triangulation thesis. Our results also
suggest that on average whites are more likely than blacks to have more favorable
views of the relative positions of Asians, particularly for family commitment, nonvio-
lence and wealth, but blacks are more likely to assume racially egalitarian views than
do whites.
Introduction
Asian Americans comprise one of the fastest-growing groups in the United States
(Xie and Goyette 2004; Humes, Jones and Ramirez 2011). Census data show
that the Asian1 population in the United States increased by 48 percent between
1990 and 2000 (from 6,908,638 to 10,242,998) and by 43 percent between
2000 and 2010 (14,674,252 in 2010), and it is projected to reach 41 million by
2050 (Passel and Cohn 2008). Beyond numerical growth, Asian American rep-
resentation in such domains as education, politics and the media has increased
Asian Americans, Race Relations, Triangulation 1
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dramatically. Given major social and demographic changes in both Asian and
Hispanic populations, scholars have begun to move beyond the black-white
binary discourse that is dominant in theories of racial stratification (C. Kim
1999; Forman, Goar and Lewis 2002; Gold 2004).
Some research speculates about which side of the “color line” Asian Americans
fall (i.e., closer to blacks or whites); other research emphasizes the distinct racial-
ized experiences of Asians and other racial/ethnic minorities (Omi and Winant
1994). However, C. Kim (1999) argues that neither perspective is quite adequate.
She suggests that Asians do not fall on one side of a color line or another (nor
do they fall somewhere in between blacks and whites); at the same time, the
racialization of Asian Americans is not insulated from the experiences of, and
interactions between, multiple racial groups. Instead, C. Kim’s racial triangula-
tion theory proposes that Asian Americans are “triangulated” within a “field” of
race relations based on their position relative to blacks and whites on two differ-
ent dimensions (racial valorization and civic ostracism). This results in a racial
position distinct from other groups. Specifically, the American public simultane-
ously lauds Asians as the “model minority” and marginalizes them as “outsid-
ers.” This contradictory racial complex is largely attributable to the relatively
high socioeconomic status that Asian Americans have seemingly achieved and the
“perpetual foreigner” image that still haunts them.
Although some scholars have advocated for the use of multidimensional theo-
ries of race relations like C. Kims racial triangulation perspective (e.g., Gold
2004; Song 2004; Ng, Lee and Pak 2007; N. Kim 2009), there has been rela-
tively little research devoted to a systematic assessment of its applicability to
racial attitudes toward Asian Americans. In this article we assess the racial tri-
angulation thesis by using data from the General Social Survey (GSS) to examine
attitudes toward Asians in relation to blacks and whites along two different
dimensions. We also extend the racial triangulation approach by examining
black-white differences in the perceptions of the relative positions of Asians. In
doing so, we aim to advance race research by moving from a one-dimensional
color-line approach to a multidimensional field of race relations.
Background
Theories of Racial Stratification
Theories of racial stratification have traditionally utilized a black-white orienta-
tion, which sees the racialization of other racial/ethnic minorities as following
a process similar to that of blacks, or views the black-white dichotomy as being
the most important (Okihiro 1994; Wu 2003). Doing so, however, has received
much criticism because it renders the experiences of and racism against other
racial minorities irrelevant (Okihiro 1994; Perea 1998; Gold 2004; Song 2004;
Kao 2006).
With the increase in the Asian American and Hispanic populations, there has
been a major call to move “beyond black and white.” Scholars have begun to
examine where racial groups fall relative to one another on a racial hierarchy,
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with blacks at the bottom and whites on the top (Okihiro 1994; Lee and Bean
2010). This approach has led to the debate over whether a color line exists, and
whether it reveals a white/nonwhite divide or a black/nonblack divide. Some
propose the existence of a white/nonwhite divide, suggesting that the boundar-
ies between whites and nonwhites as more important than differences among
nonwhite groups (Skrentny 2001; Hollinger 2005). From this perspective, Asian
Americans are more closely aligned with blacks. Others suggest the emergence
of a black/nonblack divide, indicated by the continuing separation from blacks
not only on the part of whites but also of other nonwhite racial groups (Lopez
1996), and the higher rates of intermarriage with whites among Asians and
Hispanics (Yancey 2003; Qian and Lichter 2007; Lee and Bean 2010).
Critics of the white/nonwhite perspective argue that this approach fails to
differentiate experiences among nonwhites (N. Kim 2007). The same can be
argued about the black/nonblack approach, which does not distinguish between
the experiences of whites and other nonblacks. To move beyond a biracial para-
digm, Bonilla-Silva (2004, 2010) advances a triracial stratification system, in
which there are three loosely organized strata, including “whites” (whites and
assimilated white Hispanics), “honorary whites” (East Asian groups and light-
skinned Hispanics) and “collective blacks” (blacks, dark-skinned Hispanics,
and disadvantaged Southeast Asian groups). From this viewpoint, most Asian
Americans tend to fall in between whites and blacks.
Although the color line(s) research has contributed to a better understanding
of racial stratification, it is argued that this hierarchical approach does not ade-
quately illustrate the racialization of Asian Americans (C. Kim 1999; Alcoff 2003;
Gold 2004; Song 2004). The color line(s) approach inherently assumes that racial
stratification occurs along a single dimension of “superiority” and “inferiority,”
thus homogenizing the racialization processes among all racial/ ethnic minorities
(C. Kim 2004). Another approach is Omi and Winant’s (1994:1) racial forma-
tion theory, which sees the experiences of Native Americans, blacks, Mexicans
and Asians in the United States as following distinct trajectories, characterized by
“genocide, slavery, colonization, and exclusion,” respectively. These experiences
largely dominate American race relations. The idea of distinct racial trajectories is
valuable because it underscores various types of race relations based on unique his-
torical experiences, and it emancipates the discussions of the racialization of Asian
Americans from a traditional black/white framework. However, while racialization
is dependent upon the historical context under which it occurs, C. Kim argues that
groups are not racialized in vacuum without reference to one another.
The Racial Triangulation of Asian Americans
To address these limitations, C. Kim (1999) proposes a theory of racial trian-
gulation, which combines essentials from racial formation theory and the racial
hierarchy/color line(s) approach. Racial triangulation theory argues that Asians
occupy different group positions relative to blacks and whites along multiple
dimensions, which results in a unique racialized experience of Asian Americans.
Specifically, Asian Americans have been “triangulated vis-à-vis whites and blacks
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in a ‘field of racial positions’” (C. Kim 1999:106). This field is comprised of two
dimensions: the “superior/inferior” axis refers to the process of racial valoriza-
tion, by which groups are ranked hierarchically based on cultural and/or racial
grounds; the “insider/foreigner” axis refers to the process of civic ostracism or
to what extent a group is considered to be unassimilable as opposed to being
considered “insiders” (see Figure 1) .
Making a useful departure from previous theoretical orientations, racial tri-
angulation theory suggests that racial stratification is multidimensional and that
a racial group can be rated high on one dimension and low another. Because of
ingrained racial stereotypes, average Americans evaluate Asians as “inferior”
to whites and “superior” to blacks on certain racial or cultural grounds such
as work ethic or family commitment, but they also rate Asians relatively low in
terms of civic acceptance. This can be seen with the persistence of the “model
minority” and “perpetual foreigner” images, both of which set Asian Americans
apart from other Americans (Min 1996; Tuan 1998; C. Kim 1999; Zhou 2004;
N. Kim 2007). It is this process of simultaneous valorization and civic ostracism
of Asians, along with the racial subordination of blacks, that maintains systems
of white privilege (C. Kim 1999).
Figure 1. The Field of Racial Positions in Racial Triangulation (reproduced from C. Kim 1999:108)
SUPERIOR
INFERIOR
FOREIGNER INSIDER
Whites
Asian Americans
Blacks
= Civic Ostracism
= Relative Valorization
Source: Claire Kim, Politics & Society 27(1):105-38, copyright 1999 by Sage Publications;
reprinted by permission of Sage Publications.
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Asian Americans as the Model Minority and Perpetual Foreigner
Asian Americans have long been portrayed as the model minority since William
Petersen’s 1966 New York Times Magazine article, “Success Story: Japanese
American Style,” and a myriad of subsequent studies of Asian socioeconomic
attainment that crystallize this image (e.g., Waters and Eschbach 1995; Xie and
Goyette 2004; Zeng and Xie 2004). Recent research, however, has been critical of
such “acclaims” of Asian Americans as the model minority, contending that the
socioeconomic success of Asian Americans has been exaggerated. For “substan-
tive” measures of success, including median individual income (DeNavas-Walt,
Proctor, and Mills 2004; N. Kim 2007), wage returns to education (Hirschman
and Wong 1984; Xie and Goyette 2004; Zeng and Xie 2004) and representa-
tion at the managerial level (Hirschman and Wong 1984; Woo 2000), Asians
actually fare worse than whites. The model minority image also conceals the
fact that the poverty rate among Asian Americans (12.3%) is higher than that
of whites (Sakamoto, Goyette, and Kim 2009). Additionally, the success stories
of selected Asian groups are often not a result of individual efforts rewarded by
a fair system, but rather a “success” of the American immigration policies that
have targeted highly skilled professionals since the 1960s (Mallick 2010).
The model minority image also obscures the racial subordination of Asian
Americans (C. Kim 1999; N. Kim 2007). Despite the group’s perceived socio-
economic success, the typical Asian is also often viewed as an outsider or a
perpetual foreigner (Okihiro 1994; Ancheta 1998; C. Kim 1999; N. Kim 2007)
who “clings to the culture of his own group” (Siu 1952:34). Studies in history
(Okihiro 1994), sociology (Danico and Ng 2004; Tuan 1998) and psychology
(Devos and Banaji 2005; Devos and Heng 2009) have provided strong evidence
that almost all segments of the Asian American population, including first and
later generations, youth and elderly, English and native-language only speakers
and across most ethnic groups, suffer from this stereotypical image.
Although research in Asian American studies has effectively juxtaposed such
contradictory images of Asian Americans as “model minorities” and “perpetual
foreigners,” and social psychologists have also constructed a similar two-dimen-
sional stereotype content model (Fiske, Xu and Cuddy 1999; Lin et al. 2005),
the racial triangulation perspective for the first time provides a dynamic (i.e., rel-
ative racial positioning) and systemic (i.e., a field of racial positions on multiple
dimensions) theoretical framework to essentialize the racialized experiences of
Asian Americans and race relations in the United States more generally.2 Despite
the important implications of racial triangulation theory for research on race
and ethnicity, there has been little quantitative examination of its specifications,
especially regarding perceptions of the relative positions of Asian Americans
along multiple dimensions.
Racial Differences in Attitudes Toward Asian Americans
Although racial triangulation theory provides an innovative approach to study-
ing attitudes about Asian Americans, it does not explicitly address potential vari-
ations in perceptions of Asian Americans. An important social cleavage in public
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opinion is the black-white divide (Bobo 1998; Hunt 2007), which reflects more
than just differences between individuals in each group, but groups’ structural
locations (Blumer 1958). We would therefore expect to see differences between
blacks and whites in their attitudes toward Asians. The lack of discussion about
such variation in racial triangulation theory is problematic because although the
black-white binary is not powerful enough to fully delineate the mosaic of color
lines, race discourse is largely dependent upon black-white dynamics.
In this study, we extend the racial triangulation theory by examining differ-
ences between blacks and whites in their relative ratings of Asian Americans.
Little research has examined the relations among Asians, blacks and whites
(Jackson, Gerber, and Cain 1994), but we suggest three possibilities for race dif-
ferences in attitudes toward Asian Americans. One possibility is that blacks, on
average, view Asians more negatively than do whites. The model minority image
of Asians has been used to discount the disadvantages that the African American
community faces and to disregard their call for racial equality (Lee 1996; Zhou
2004). Blacks may respond to this with unfavorable views of Asians. Moreover,
scholarship on race has suggested that economic competition, cultural and reli-
gious differences, and the belief that Asians hold racial prejudices against blacks
could contribute to a high level of hostility toward Asians (Shankman 1978;
Cummings and Lambert 1997; Bonilla-Silva 2010). Because Asians were once
used as labor replacement for African slaves and still serve as the middleman
between blacks and whites (Bonacich 1973; Okihiro 1994), blacks may bear
negative feelings toward Asians, particularly in areas where blacks have been
denigrated and unfairly assessed historically.
A second possibility is that blacks view Asians more as allies than competi-
tors. They may empathize with Asian Americans’ experiences since both have
experienced racial discrimination and subjugation (Lee and Bean 2010; Tang
2011). African Americans have allied with Asian Americans to fight against
racial discrimination in the era of Asian Exclusion, the school desegregation
protest in California in the early 1900s, the labor union movement in the 1920s
and the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s (Okihiro 1994). Jackson,
Gerber, and Cain’s (1944) finding that blacks in Los Angeles hold favorable
attitudes towards Asian Americans despite increasing economic and residential
competition is suggestive of this possibility. Therefore, we might find that blacks
have more favorable ratings of Asians than do whites, especially regarding civic
acceptance.
A third possibility is that blacks’ attitudes toward Asians are similar to those
of whites (Cummings and Lambert 1997). First, the perpetual foreigner and
model minority myths are so pervasive that they influence general views of
Asians, regardless of race/ethnicity. Media portrayal of Asians is either so ste-
reotypical, or too vague to be memorable (Lee 1999; Ono and Pham 2008), that
blacks and whites may hold similar views. Second, Asian Americans usually
do not weigh into major sociopolitical battles (Lien, Conway, and Wong 2004;
Watson 2004; Kao 2006), and so blacks and whites may both perceive Asians as
“outsiders” (Sakamoto, Goyette and Kim 2007). Because of these factors, black-
white differences in attitudes towards Asians might be trivial.
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Racial Triangulation of Hispanics
One could also imagine that Hispanics are also racially triangulated, given some
similarities to Asians Americans in their histories of assimilation in the United
States. Both groups were used as cheap labor, and continue to immigrate to the
United States in substantial proportions, seeking employment and competitive
wages. Because of this, both groups are often met with prejudice and discrimina-
tion arising from nativist sentiments among the American public (Alcoff 2003).
Therefore, the perpetual foreigner image could also be relevant to Hispanics,
as they are often perceived to be outsiders regardless of their immigrant sta-
tus (Alcoff 2003). In addition, there is some evidence that whites also valorize
Hispanics relative to blacks (Marrow 2009). On the other hand, Hispanics and
Asian Americans may be racialized differently from each other because of the
pervasiveness of the model minority stereotype of Asians in particular. Although
there may be broader processes at work that position both Asians and Hispanics
as outsiders in the field of racial positions, a unique valorization process for
Asians would substantiate C. Kim’s (1999) hypothesis.
There has been some research on the racial triangulation of Hispanics, includ-
ing Maldonado’s (2006) study of immigrant Hispanic, native-born Hispanic
and white workers and King’s (2010) study of Mexicans, Native Americans
and whites. However, these studies did not assess multiple dimensions of racial
stratification, nor did they make clear reference to blacks, a shaping force of
racialized politics in the United States. So, to examine whether Hispanics are tri-
angulated in ways similar to Asians, we conduct parallel analyses of Hispanics.
Although the focus of this paper is on the racialization of Asian Americans, the
examination of the relative position of Hispanics compared with whites and
blacks can help determine whether Asian Americans are racialized in distinct
ways or if the simultaneous valorization and ostracism applies to contemporary
immigrant groups more generally.
Data and Methods
This study uses data from selected years (1990, 1994, 2000, 2002, 2004, and
2006) of the GSS, which provide information on attitudes towards Asians (and
Hispanics in our supplemental analyses), blacks and whites. The GSS is a sample
of English-speaking adults living in households in the continental United States
and has tracked the opinions of Americans since 1972 (Davis and Smith 2009). It
is one of the best sources for attitudinal studies, including those on race relations.
Our samples consist of blacks and whites for whom there was no missing data
on the dependent variables of interest.3 Those who did not respond to or marked
“Don’t Know” for the racial attitude items were excluded from the analyses (rang-
ing from 1.8% to 12.8% of the cases depending on the item).4 Not all items were
asked in every year, nor were they always asked about all groups. So, in-sample
respondents are those who provided ratings of all three groups in the same survey
years. Our final sample sizes for the analyses of the racial triangulation of Asians
range from 1,122 to 3,609, and from 1,120 to 3,565 for that of Hispanics.
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Beyond individual characteristics, socio-demographic characteristics of the
area in which an individual resides could also affect race relations and the
attitudes about the relative position of Asian Americans (Taylor 1998; Dixon
2006). Contextual variables (for details, see our discussion in the Independent
Variables section) are derived from Metropolitan Area and county-level data
based on the 1990 and 2000 Census 5 percent Public Use Microdata Sample.
We first identified the Metropolitan Area or county that corresponded to the
respondent’s Primary Sampling Unit (PSU), and then merged the GSS data with
the corresponding census data.5 We combined the 1990-1998 GSS surveys with
data from the 1990 Census, and we merged the 2000-2006 GSS data with infor-
mation from the 2000 Census.
Dependent Variables
Appendix table A1 lists the year(s) each question was asked, question wording
and coding schema for the variables used to construct our measures of racial
valorization and civic ostracism. Original responses were recoded so that a
higher value corresponds to a more favorable rating. We use respondents’ rat-
ings of each group’s family commitment, intelligence, nonviolence, wealth6 and
work ethic to assess the valorization of Asians relative to blacks and whites.
Because civic ostracism refers to the extent to which Asians are perceived to
be unassimilable, and thus excluded from being “insiders,” we use measures of
respondents’ acceptance of living in the same neighborhood with at least half of
the neighbors being from each racial group, and having a close family member
marrying a member of each group, as well as measures of respondents’ beliefs
about each group’s level of patriotism and their ratings of each group on the
feeling thermometer.7
We construct measures of relative position by comparing the ratings of the
same characteristics that respondents provided for Asians, blacks and whites. As
mentioned earlier, not all variables are available for all years, since respondents
were not asked the same questions or about the same groups each year. For
example, attitudes about patriotism were measured only in 1990, and questions
about living in the same neighborhood were asked only about Asians, blacks
and whites in 2000 (respondents were asked about Asians and blacks in 1990,
but the white category was divided into Northern and Southern whites). Using
the ratings of all three groups, we create a set of categorical-dependent variables
that measure the position of Asians relative to blacks and whites.
There are 13 possible combinations of how Asians are rated compared with
blacks and whites. Because of the small number of cases for some categories,
as well as the problem of dimensionality, we collapse the relative ratings into
four categories for each of our dependent variables (see Appendix table A2 for
details). If the scores for Asians, blacks and whites are the same, then all groups
are assumed to have equal status (“all groups equal”). If a respondent rates
Asians higher than blacks and whites, or higher than one group and equal to
the other group, then we consider Asians as being rated relatively high on the
racial hierarchy (“Asians high”). We do this because even if Asians share the top
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position with another group, we argue that it is still considered to be a high posi-
tion.8 If a respondent rates Asians between blacks and whites, then we consider
Asians to assume a “middle” status (“Asians middle”). If a respondent rates
Asians lower than blacks and whites or lower than one group and equal to the
other, then we code Asians to be at the bottom of the racial hierarchy (“Asians
low”).9,10
Using measures of relative position has advantages over simpler measures
used in previous studies. First, they can effectively extract the crucial informa-
tion about the implicit comparisons that respondents usually make across dif-
ferent groups for similar questions asked in consecutive order. This is essential
for the racial triangulation perspective, as the evaluation of Asian Americans
is only meaningful when considered in relation to other groups. Second, the
idiosyncrasy in respondents’ ratings may cast doubt over conclusions drawn
from analyses of nonrelational social positions. For example, highly educated
people are more inclined to provide socially desirable responses (Jackman and
Muha 1984) and may give high ratings to all races. With a nonrelative measure
of respondents’ evaluations of Asians, we might conclude that education is
positively related to favorable ratings of Asian Americans. We would not know,
however, if more educated individuals would rank Asians higher or lower than
other groups.
Independent Variables
Table 1 presents descriptive statistics for the independent variables included
in each analysis. Race is measured with a dichotomous indicator, with “1”
referring to black and “0” to white. We control for age (in decades), gender
(male = 1 and female = 0 [reference]), and region (North, South, Midwest, and
West [reference]). To account for individuals’ socioeconomic status, we include
education, which is measured by years of schooling, family income (logged)11
and employment status (part-time employed, unemployed, other types, and
full-time employed [reference]). We also add party affiliation (Republican,
Democrat, Independent, and other party affiliation [reference]) and survey year
(year dummies) to account for the influence of political orientation and period
effects.12
For PSU-level characteristics, we control for percent non-Hispanic Asian, per-
cent Hispanic, percent non-Hispanic black, population size (logged), and median
household income (logged) to account for the sociodemographic characteristics
of the area. In addition, we examine whether the socioeconomic status of the
surrounding Asian community influences attitudes about Asians by including
the percent of Asians who have a college degree or higher.
Analytic Strategy
Our analyses proceed in three steps. First, we look at descriptive statistics of
the relative ratings of Asians to assess the average racial valorization and civic
ostracism of Asian Americans. Second, to examine predictors of attitudes about
the relative position of Asians and to assess whether black-white differences
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Table 1. Descriptive Statistics of Independent Variables
Variable Mean (SD) Minimum Maximum
Survey Year
Year 1990 .09 .29 .00 1.00
Year 1994 .20 .40 .00 1.00
Year 2000 .19 .39 .00 1.00
Year 2002 .18 .39 .00 1.00
Year 2004 .18 .39 .00 1.00
Year 2006 .16 .37 .00 1.00
Race
White .85 .35 .00 1.00
Black .15 .35 .00 1.00
Age (in 10 years) 4.68 1.72 1.80 8.90
Gender
Female .56 .50 .00 1.00
Male .44 .50 .00 1.00
Region
West .19 .39 .00 1.00
Northeast .19 .39 .00 1.00
Midwest .25 .43 .00 1.00
South .37 .48 .00 1.00
Education 13.36 2.93 .00 20.00
Imputed Income 9.97 1.01 5.62 11.86
Employment
Full-time .52 .50 .00 1.00
Part-time .11 .31 .00 1.00
Unemployed .03 .17 .00 1.00
Other employment .34 .47 .00 1.00
Party Affiliation
Republican .29 .45 .00 1.00
Democrat .34 .47 .00 1.00
Independent .36 .48 .00 1.00
Other party .01 .12 .00 1.00
PSU-Level Contextual Variables
Asian college percent .43 .16 .00 1.00
Hispanics college percent .14 .09 .00 1.00
Log median HH Income 10.54 .27 9.49 12.48
Log total population 13.39 2.18 7.72 16.87
(Continued)
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in these attitudes remain after taking into account other individual and con-
textual characteristics, we conduct multinomial logistic regression analyses,
with “Asians low” as the reference category. In the multivariate analyses, we
account for the nonindependence of observations within PSUs by using the
cluster option and robust standard errors in STATA.13 Third, to illustrate the
differences between blacks and whites, we generate predicted probabilities
using the estimates from multinomial logistic regressions. We derive these pre-
dictions using a “typical” respondent, who is set to have the mean values for
all independent variables in the model, and we only vary the individual’s race
(black = 1 and whites = 0).
We also conduct parallel analyses for ratings of Hispanics. As with the cod-
ing of the relative position of Asians, we use respondents’ ratings of Hispanics,
blacks and whites to determine the relative position of Hispanics for the same
set of racial valorization and civic ostracism indicators. We use the same inde-
pendent variables in our multivariate analyses except that we replace contextual
variables with those that are pertinent to Hispanics (e.g., percent of Hispanics
who have a college degree or higher).
Results
Table 2 shows the marginal distribution of each relative rating measure for Asian
Americans. In the full sample, in terms of racial valorization, the modal category
is to position Asians higher than other groups for family commitment (47.0%),
nonviolence (40.3%), wealth (40.0%) and work ethic (48.2%). On this dimen-
sion, intelligence is the only characteristic for which “Asians high” is the second
largest category. Most Americans rate all groups equal for intelligence (39.4%).
This last finding is somewhat surprising given that a pervasive stereotype of
Asians is their educational success. The overall valorization of Asians on these
indicators suggests that the perceptions of Asian Americans as the model minor-
ity are quite prevalent. The fact that Asians are rated high suggests that Asian
Americans are not just viewed as the model among minorities, but rather they
are perceived to be at the top of the racial hierarchy. Thus, C. Kim’s hypothesis
that Asian Americans fall between blacks and whites for racial valorization does
not exactly correspond to American public attitudes.
Another picture, however, emerges when one looks at the civic ostracism of
Asian Americans. Although some may be reassured by our finding that about
Table 1. continued
Variable Mean (SD) Minimum Maximum
Percent NH Asian .03 .03 .00 .26
Percent NH black .12 .11 .00 .57
Percent Hispanics .10 .13 .00 .85
Note: Descriptive statistics for all independent variables are based on pooled survey years
(N = 14,116). SD = standard deviation.
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Table 2. Relative Frequency Distribution of Relative Placement of Asian Americans
Full Sample (%)
Racial Valorization (Superior/Inferior)
Family Commitment
Asians high 47.0
Asians middle 9.4
Asians low 13.6
All groups equal 30.1
Intelligence
Asians high 30.4
Asians middle 8.7
Asians low 21.5
All groups equal 39.4
Nonviolence
Asians high 40.3
Asians middle 13.0
Asians low 16.7
All groups equal 30.0
Wealth
Asians high 40.0
Asians middle 21.3
Asians low 29.7
All groups equal 9.0
Work Ethic
Asians high 48.2
Asians middle 11.6
Asians low 17.4
All groups equal 22.8
Civic Ostracism (Insider/Foreigner)
Feeling Thermometer
Asians high 9.4
Asians middle 7.2
Asians low 33.4
All groups equal 50.0
Neighborhood
Asians high 10.9
Asians middle 7.0
(Continued)
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half of Americans have racially egalitarian views for three out of four measures
(except patriotism) on this dimension, others may instead be concerned that
about half still have discriminatory views. Moreover, among those who do have
discriminatory views, Asians are perceived to be in a low position on the racial
hierarchy. “Asians low” is the second largest category for the feeling thermom-
eter (33.4%), living in the same community (30.4%) and marriage (33.2%), and
the percent of respondents in this category on these measures is much higher
than the percent of respondents who rated Asians high or in the middle. Even
more striking is that 48 percent of the respondents rated Asians low on patrio-
tism.14 Descriptive statistics of attitudes toward Asians among blacks and whites
separately show similar patterns to those of the full sample except that whites
on average rate Asians higher than blacks do, especially on indicators of racial
valorization.
These results indicate the need to focus on multiple dimensions of racial
inequality, as suggested by racial triangulation theory. Asian Americans do not
fall “closer” to, or in between, whites or blacks on a single racial hierarchy;
instead, they occupy a unique position in a field of racial positions. On one
dimension, they may fall “closer” to whites, but on another, they fall “closer” to
blacks. In fact, supplementary descriptive statistics (available upon request) also
show that to great extent, the American public rates Asians and blacks equally
when it comes to indicators of civic acceptance. This suggests that the common
perception of Asians falling somewhere “in between” blacks and whites might
be an artifact of the simultaneous high and low positions of Asians on both axes.
Black-White Differences in Relative Ratings of Asian Americans
We next conduct multinomial logistic regressions to examine the predictors of
attitudes towards Asian Americans as well as to explore black-white differences.
Table 2. continued
Full Sample (%)
Asians low 30.4
All groups equal 51.8
Marriage
Asians high 5.9
Asians middle 13.1
Asians low 33.2
All groups equal 47.8
Patriotism
Asians high 11.6
Asians middle 7.4
Asians low 48.2
All groups equal 32.8
Asian Americans, Race Relations, Triangulation 13
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Detailed results from our analyses
vary with specific dependent mea-
sures. For the sake of parsimony, we
do not discuss every significant effect
in every model. Instead, we focus
on the general patterns that emerge
regarding black-white differences in
the relative ratings of Asians.
There are black-white differences
in attitudes about the relative posi-
tion of Asians, especially among our
indicators of racial valorization. For
ease, we present only the coefficients
for race in Table 3 (all individual
and contextual-level variables are
included in the models). For detailed
results, see Appendix table A3. The
reference category for the dependent
variables is “Asians Low.” A sta-
tistically significant, positive coef-
ficient for race suggests that blacks
are more likely than whites to have
more favorable views of Asians (i.e.,
rating Asians high, in the middle,
or all equal vs. rating Asians low).
A statistically significant, negative
coefficient for an independent vari-
able suggests that black respondents
tend to have more negative views
than whites do about the relative
position of Asian Americans.
After accounting for individual
and contextual sociodemographic
characteristics, blacks on average
have less favorable views of Asian
Americans relative to blacks and
whites. They are significantly less
likely than whites to rate Asians high
or in the middle as opposed to low
for all measures of racial valoriza-
tion. Specifically, blacks are signifi-
cantly less likely to rate Asians high
along the racial hierarchy as opposed
to being low for family commitment
(b= -.91), nonviolence (b= -.59) and
wealth (b= -.43). They are also less
Table 3. Multinomial Logit Estimates for Racea
Racial Valorization (Superior/Inferior) Civic Ostracism (Insider/Outsider)
Family Intelligence Nonviolence Wealth
Work
Ethic
Feeling
Therm. Neighborhood Marriage Patriotism
Asians High vs. Asians Low -0.91** -.35 -.59** -.43** -.14 -.34 -.64 -.16 .27
(.29) (.19) (.19) (.14) (.17) (.29) (.36) (.24) (.34)
Asians Middle vs. Asians Low -.98** -1.59*** -.67* .14 -.67** .28 -.68 -1.15*** -.84
(.31) (.40) (.30) (.16) (.23) (.24) (.51) (.25) (.49)
All Groups Equal vs. Asians Low -.53 -.01 .02 -.50* -.17 -.01 .22 .46** .44
(.37) (.20) (.21) (.25) (.20) (.17) (.19) (.14) (.25)
* p < .05 ** p < .01 *** p < .001
Note: aRace is coded as 1 if black and 0 if white.
14 Social Forces
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likely to perceive Asians as being in the middle as opposed to low for family
commitment (b= -.98), intelligence (b= -1.59), nonviolence (b= -.67) and work
ethic (b= -.67). In no case are blacks more likely than whites, with statistical sig-
nificance, to view Asians as being in the high or middle position relative to other
groups. We also find that blacks are slightly less likely than whites to rate all
groups equally as opposed to rating Asian low for wealth (b= -.50).
By contrast, the only significant black-white difference that exists in the civic
ostracism of Asian Americans is on attitudes about marriage with Asians. Blacks
are less likely than whites to rate Asians in the middle as opposed to low for
marriage (b= -1.15). It should be noted, however, that blacks are more likely
than whites to rate all racial groups equal for marriage as opposed to rating
Asians low (b= .46).
We next examine the predicted probabilities generated from the multinomial
logit estimates, which are presented in Table 4. The general pattern is about
the same, that is, both blacks and whites are most likely to have racially egali-
tarian views (i.e., all groups are equal) or to rate Asians high for indicators of
racial valorization. Additionally, these predicted probabilities show that blacks
are more likely than whites to have racially egalitarian views (all groups equal)
except for wealth, work ethic and the feeling thermometer, for which there are
trivial racial differences in rating all groups equal.
Although rating Asians high for family commitment is the modal category
for both blacks and whites (black: .38; white: .50), whites are more likely than
blacks to rate Asians high or in the middle, whereas blacks are about twice as
likely as whites to rate Asians low (black: .22; white: .12). Predicted probabili-
ties of ratings of intelligence and nonviolence follow a similar pattern to that of
family commitment. Both blacks and whites are least likely to feel that wealth
is equally distributed among the three racial groups, but whites are more likely
than blacks to rate Asians high (black: .22; white: .32). For work ethic, blacks
and whites have almost the same probability of rating Asians high (black: .50;
white: .49), but blacks are slightly more likely than whites to rate Asians low
(black: .20; white: .17), which results in whites’ higher probability of placing
Asians in the middle.
In regard to civic ostracism, with the exception of patriotism, both blacks
and whites are most likely to rate all groups equal, followed by “Asians low.”
There are smaller racial differences in attitudes about the relative position of
Asian Americans on this dimension. Whites are about twice as likely as blacks
to rate Asians high for living in the same community (black: .05; white: .11),
but they are also seven percentage points more likely than blacks to rate Asians
to be least patriotic (black: .43; white: .50). In addition, whites are about three
times more likely than blacks to place Asians in the middle (black: .04; white:
.13) and five percent more likely to place Asians low (black: .30; white: .35) for
marriageability. With the exception of the feeling thermometer, blacks are more
likely than whites to report racially egalitarian views.
Overall, our results suggest that there are black-white differences in racial
attitudes and about the relative position of Asians. Blacks are more likely than
whites to have racially egalitarian views (i.e., rating all groups equal). Among
Asian Americans, Race Relations, Triangulation 15
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Table 4. Predicted Probabilities for Racial Triangulation of Asian Americans
Black White
Racial Valorization (Superior/Inferior)
Family Commitment
Asians high .38 .50
Asians middle .06 .09
Asians low .22 .12
All groups equal .33 .29
Intelligence
Asians high .28 .33
Asians middle .02 .08
Asians low .24 .20
All groups equal .46 .39
Nonviolence
Asians high .32 .43
Asians middle .08 .12
Asians low .21 .16
All groups equal .39 .29
Wealth
Asians high .32 .42
Asians middle .28 .20
Asians low .34 .29
All groups equal .06 .09
Work Ethic
Asians high .50 .49
Asians middle .07 .11
Asians low .20 .17
All groups equal .23 .23
Civic Ostracism (Insider/Foreigner)
Feeling Thermometer
Asians high .07 .09
Asians middle .08 .06
Asians low .34 .34
All groups equal .51 .51
Neighborhood
Asians high .05 .11
Asians middle .03 .07
Asians low .30 .31
All groups equal .62 .51
(Continued)
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those that do discriminate between racial groups, blacks tend to have less favor-
able views towards Asian Americans than do whites, particularly for our indica-
tors of racial valorization.
Findings for Other Predictors of Relative Ratings of Asian Americans
We next turn our attention to other predictors of relative ratings of Asian
Americans (see Appendix table A3). For almost all indicators of racial valo-
rization and civic acceptance and for the three sets of odds (i.e., placing Asian
high, middle and equal vs. low) of the dependent variables, education is consis-
tently associated with favorable views of Asian Americans. However, many of
the other independent variables show different patterns as we examine across
analyses predicting the nine relative ratings of Asians. For example, when it
comes to rating Asians high as opposed to low, other than race, only age, gender,
education and percent of Hispanics in the PSU have more than one statistically
significant coefficient (out of nine) in the same direction. Older individuals are
less likely to rate Asians high versus low on intelligence and nonviolence (but
they are more likely to rate them high vs. low on patriotism). Males are more
likely than females to rate Asians high as opposed to low on work ethic, the feel-
ing thermometer and marriage. Individuals who reside in areas with a greater
percentage of Hispanics (but interestingly not Asians) are more likely to rate
Asians high versus low on wealth, feeling thermometer and marriage.15
Besides race, there are no discernible patterns for rating Asian Americans in
the middle as opposed to rating them low. When it comes to the odds of hav-
ing racially egalitarian views versus rating Asians low, age, education, being an
Independent or some other party affiliation and percent black in the PSU are
the only (somewhat) consistent predictors. Older respondents are less likely to
feel that all groups are equal as opposed to ranking Asians low on intelligence,
nonviolence, work ethic and marriage. It is interesting to note that education
is positively related to egalitarian views about intelligence, nonviolence, work
ethic, the feeling thermometer, living in the same community and marriage.
Table 4. continued
Black White
Marriage
Asians high .04 .06
Asians middle .04 .13
Asians low .30 .35
All groups equal .62 .45
Patriotism
Asians high .11 .10
Asians middle .03 .08
Asians low .43 .50
All groups equal .43 .33
Asian Americans, Race Relations, Triangulation 17
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Compared with Republicans, Independents are more likely to rate blacks,
whites and Asians as being equal to each other as opposed to rating Asians low
for work ethic, living in the same community and marriage, and those with a
political party affiliation other than Democrat, Republican or Independent are
more likely to rate all groups as equal as opposed to rating Asians low on intel-
ligence, feeling thermometer and marriage. Respondents who live in areas with
a greater percentage of blacks are less likely to have egalitarian views as opposed
to rating Asians low for the feeling thermometer and patriotism.
A pooled analysis of data spanning almost 20 years may not adequately take
into account the shifting nature of racial stratification. To assess whether atti-
tudes about the relative position of Asian Americans have changed over time,
we divided the GSS data into two waves—between 1990 and 1994, and 2000
and after—and conducted the same set of multinomial logit models for each
wave. We then constructed predicted probabilities of relative ratings of Asians
by blacks and whites. For these analyses, we include only those variables ascer-
tained both before 2000 and after.
As mentioned earlier, the only indicator of civic ostracism that was asked
about Asians, blacks and whites before 2000 was patriotism, and this was asked
only in 1990. Unfortunately, this leaves us with no civic ostracism variables that
were measured in the same way in both periods.16 The results from these analy-
ses are presented in Table 5. We find that, in general, as time progresses people
have become more likely to rate Asians high or equal to blacks and whites in the
realm of racial valorization. Based on the predicted probabilities, there is a sig-
nificant increase among average blacks and whites in rating all groups equal, an
obvious decrease in the probability of rating Asians low, and to a lesser degree
an increase in rating Asians high (both blacks and whites for intelligence and
wealth, and whites for nonviolence).
Supplementary Analysis of Hispanics
We also conducted parallel analyses for Hispanics to compare the experiences
of Asians with another large immigrant group. As in our analysis of attitudes
about Asians, we conducted multinomial logistic regressions of attitudes about
the relative positions of Hispanics compared with blacks and whites, with rating
Hispanics low as the reference category. To directly collate substantive findings
from our analyses of Asians with those of Hispanics, we focus on postestimation
results from multivariate regressions (full results available upon request).
Table 6 presents predicted probabilities of the relative ratings of Hispanics
by blacks and whites, derived from estimates of our multinomial logistic regres-
sions. These predictions reveal interesting similarities and important differences
between the attitudes about the relative position of Hispanics and that of Asian
Americans. We again find that respondents are most likely to rate all groups
equally among all indicators of civic acceptance, with the exception of patrio-
tism, for which the modal response is to rate Hispanics low.17 Also similar to our
findings about Asians, we note that the category with the second highest percent-
age across all of these indicators is “Hispanics low.” Thus, we find evidence that
the foreigner image that is pervasive among Asians also applies to Hispanics.
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Table 5. Predicted Probabilities for Racial Triangulation of Asian Americans in the 1990s and
2000s.
1990/1994 2000
Black White Black White
Racial Valorization (Superior/Inferior)
Intelligence
Asians high .24 .31 .31 .35
Asians middle .03 .12 .01 .04
Asians low .26 .25 .20 .13
All groups equal .47 .32 .49 .48
Nonviolence
Asians high .34 .41 .29 .44
Asians middle .09 .18 .08 .07
Asians low .26 .19 .16 .13
All groups equal .32 .22 .47 .36
Wealth
Asians high .32 .41 .34 .45
Asians middle .25 .20 .31 .22
Asians low .37 .32 .28 .23
All groups equal .06 .08 .07 .11
Work Ethic
Asians high .51 .49 .50 .49
Asians middle .06 .13 .06 .07
Asians low .20 .19 .18 .12
All groups equal .22 .19 .26 .32
Civic Ostracism (Insider/Foreigner)
Neighborhood
Asians high .12 .15 .06 .11
Asians middle .04 .06 .03 .07
Asians low .35 .30 .30 .31
All groups equal .49 .49 .61 .51
Marriage
Asians high .03 .23 .05 .06
Asians middle .05 .12 .04 .13
Asians low .36 .32 .30 .36
All groups equal .55 .33 .61 .45
Asian Americans, Race Relations, Triangulation 19
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Table 6. Predicted Probabilities for Racial Triangulation of Hispanics
Black White
Racial Valorization (Superior/Inferior)
Family Commitment
Hispanics high .37 .44
Hispanics middle .06 .10
Hispanics low .26 .16
All groups equal .31 .31
Intelligence
Hispanics high .10 .08
Hispanics middle .03 .08
Hispanics low .28 .36
All groups equal .59 .48
Nonviolence
Hispanics high .26 .22
Hispanics middle .09 .14
Hispanics low .24 .32
All groups equal .41 .32
Wealth
Hispanics high .12 .11
Hispanics middle .21 .19
Hispanics low .61 .61
All groups equal .06 .09
Work Ethic
Hispanics high .27 .25
Hispanics middle .11 .15
Hispanics low .29 .30
All groups equal .33 .30
Civic Ostracism (Insider/Foreigner)
Feeling Thermometer
Hispanics high .08 .11
Hispanics middle .06 .06
Hispanics low .34 .32
All groups equal .52 .51
Neighborhood
Hispanics high .07 .07
Hispanics middle .04 .05
(Continued)
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However, differences exist between the relative position of Asian Americans and
that of Hispanics vis-à-vis blacks and whites along the “superior/inferior” axis.
Recall that in our analyses of Asians, for all but one indicator, the category with
the highest predicted probability was “Asians high.” In our analysis of Hispanics,
however, for three of the five indicators of racial valorization (intelligence, non-
violence and work ethic), respondents tended to view all three groups as being
equal. For these measures, the category with the second highest predicted prob-
ability was “Hispanics low.” Furthermore, the modal category for wealth was also
Hispanics low. The only measure in which Hispanics were rated high is family
commitment. Furthermore, when comparing the attitudes about the relative posi-
tion of Hispanics between whites and blacks, we find fewer significant black-white
differences than we did in our analyses of attitudes about Asian Americans.
Overall, these results suggest that while Hispanics may also suffer from the
foreigner image, they do not appear to experience the simultaneous civic ostra-
cism and racial valorization process that Asian Americans experience. Instead,
the position of Hispanics on our relational measures of valorization is relatively
low, with the exception of family commitment. The fewer black-white differ-
ences in the relative position of Hispanics might be attributable to the fact that
the model minority myth has often been used to pit Asians against other minor-
ity groups, including Hispanics more recently.
Discussion
Scholarship on race relations in the United States has typically focused on blacks
and whites, and to a lesser degree, Hispanics. Surprisingly, little attention has
been devoted to Asian Americans, even though they are among the fastest grow-
ing racial/ethnic groups in the United States. When Hispanics or Asian Americans
are the focus of research on race relations, studies have usually been informed
Table 6. continued
Black White
Hispanics low .27 .36
All groups equal .62 .52
Marriage
Hispanics high .05 .07
Hispanics middle .04 .14
Hispanics low .29 .34
All groups equal .62 .45
Patriotism
Hispanics high .08 .05
Hispanics middle .03 .06
Hispanics low .45 .56
All groups equal .45 .33
Asian Americans, Race Relations, Triangulation 21
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by two dominant paradigms—one that sees Asians and Hispanics as falling
between blacks and whites along one dimension, and another that emphasizes
distinct racialized experiences of each group. However, we suggest that C. Kim’s
(1999) multidimensional racial triangulation theory is a more useful approach
to studying American’s attitudes about the relative positions of Asians.
We examine two important facets of racial stratification: racial valorization
and civic ostracism. Our findings in general substantiate the multidimensional
framework of “the marginalized model minority” suggested by the racial trian-
gulation perspective. In essence, this view combines ideas from the racial hierar-
chy approach with the racial formation perspective. One can view race relations
as comprising a group’s relative position on multiple dimensions, resulting in a
unique place in the field of race relations. On average, Asians receive relatively
high ratings with regard to family commitment, work ethic, intelligence and
socioeconomic status. At the same time, we find that Asians are considered to
be the least patriotic, and rated low in terms of desirability to live in the same
community and marriageability.
The specific predictions of the racial triangulation approach (i.e., Asian
Americans fall somewhere between whites and blacks in the racial valorization
process and below blacks in the civic ostracism process) are not fully supported
by our findings. For all of our indicators of racial valorization, Asians are least
likely to fall in the middle; instead they are rated as high as, if not higher than,
whites. Furthermore, Asians are often perceived to be in a position similar to, but
not necessarily lower than, blacks when it comes to civic ostracism. However,
our findings are consistent with C. Kim’s general idea of multidimensionality, as
there is a clear shift from a high to a low placement of Asian Americans when
we move from racial valorization to civic ostracism.
Furthermore, we have provided evidence of black-white differences in percep-
tions of Asian Americans. Our findings indicate that blacks and whites differ
in their respective likelihood of providing racially discriminatory views, with
whites being more likely than blacks to valorize Asians on certain traits like fam-
ily commitment, nonviolence and wealth. This difference may be a result of the
model minority image of Asians, which is often used to discount structural and
cumulative disadvantages that the African American community faces by pitting
Asians and other minorities against each other (Osajima 1988; Tang 2011). This
combined with perceived economic competition may lead blacks to assume less
favorable views about Asians. Results from this study also suggest that the two-
dimensional racial triangulation view of Asians Americans does not similarly
describe the racialized experiences of Hispanics, who are also ostracized like
Asians but rated differently on various group traits.
Some of the general patterns found in this study might differ with more
nuanced data. First, although our measure of attitudes about patriotism indicates
a shared sense of peoplehood, this information is only available in 1990. Thus,
our measures of civic ostracism primarily focus on social distance, which is not
equivalent to perceptions of foreignness. Second, some indicators of racial atti-
tudes were only measured in 1 or 2 years of the GSS. With more data consistently
collected over multiple time points in different realms using robust measures, we
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could assess whether the racial triangulation of Asian Americans would attenu-
ate, persist or intensify. Third, we examined only two dimensions of racializa-
tion: racial valorization and civic ostracism. C. Kim (1999) does not rule out
the existence of more than two axes of racial domination; neither do we. Future
research should examine whether there are other facets of racial subordination.
Last, we examined only the attitudes of blacks and whites because of insufficient
data on other racial groups. It would be useful to look at self-perceptions among
Asian Americans, as studies within social psychology have suggested that objects
of stereotypes often hold the same stereotypes of themselves (Correll et al. 2002).
Despite these limitations, our research advances current scholarship on race
relations by using a multidimensional approach to examine racial differences in
attitudes toward Asian Americans. Although current research on racial inequal-
ity tends to focus on a single dimension of privilege, our analyses of attitudes
about Asians in particular uncovers multiple aspects of racial subordination.
Thus a multidimensional view of racial stratification is a more fruitful approach
than the traditional top-down hierarchy or color line perspectives. For instance,
scholars often assume that a key to eliminating racial inequalities is to improve
the socioeconomic attainments of minority groups. Our results, however, suggest
that prejudice, stereotypes and racism could well be multifaceted, and that the
attainment of a high socioeconomic level might not be the end of a struggle for
racial inequality, but rather a new beginning.
Notes
1. We also use the term Asians to refer to Asian Americans throughout this article.
2. Research on Asian immigrants has attempted to capture these dual images of Asian
Americans, particularly the work by Gibson (1988) on “accommodation without
assimilation,” Bonacich (1973) and Min’s (1996) work on Asians as “middleman
minorities” and Portes and Rumbaut’s (2001) work on the selective acculturation of
children of immigrants.
3. Prior to 2000, the GSS race question only included “black,” “white” and “other,” so
we are not able to examine the attitudes of Asians and Hispanics. For survey years since
2000, additional race information is available, but the data have small sample sizes for
Asians and Hispanics, not allowing enough statistical power to make inferences.
4. To examine the potential effect of missing data on our substantive conclusions, we
conducted sensitivity analyses, including performing the same analyses by combin-
ing “Don’t Know” with all equal, high, middle and low respectively, and conducting
a two-step Heckman correction analysis. Findings from each set of analyses gener-
ated similar substantive conclusions.
5. We were unable to use county-level data because the respondents’ county was identi-
fied only from 1994 on.
6. Arguably, evaluations of Asian Americans’ wealth may not be based on attitudes or per-
ceptions, but rather on more objective information (e.g., median household income).
However, recent research has indicated that Asian Americans have less wealth than
whites, and this finding is inconsistent with popular perceptions (Ong and Patraporn
2006). Still, our results on perceptions of wealth should be read with caution.
7. These social distance measures follow the traditional wisdoms of the Chicago School
of sociology and of assimilation theory (Alba and Nee 2003), and they align well
Asian Americans, Race Relations, Triangulation 23
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with perceptions of several dimensions of assimilation proposed by Gordon (1964),
including structural (i.e., socialization with in-group members in their sociopoliti-
cal circles in the host society), marital (i.e., intermarriage), identificational (i.e., the
share of a “collective identity” dominant in the host society) and attitude receptional
(i.e., neutral or even favorable views without bias).
8. For most of the dependent variables, within this category Asians are rated higher
than either blacks or whites.
9. Within this category, for all the insider/outsider variables except patriotism, Asians
are more likely to share the low position with another group (most often blacks)
than to be rated lower than both groups.
10. We recognize that our categorization system is one of a few possible ways to measure
the relative position of Asians. We conducted additional analyses (not shown) in
which we coded “ranking Asians second and tied with another group” as “Asians
middle” instead of “Asians low.” These results produce a similar substantive finding
that Asians were rated high for racial valorization but middle to low on civic accep-
tance/ostracism. We also found similar racial differences.
11. For family income, we used the “impute” command in Stata 11 to replace missing
values with predictions from a regression on age, gender, race, education, employ-
ment status, year and population size of respondents’ city of residence.
12. Research has examined the influence of exposure to groups on racial attitudes
(Jackman and Crane 1986; Sigelman and Welch 1993; Powers and Ellison 1995;
Dixon 2006). Unfortunately, questions about knowing Asians were asked only in
2000, and thus this variable was not included in the analyses. Additional analyses
including this measure using only the 2000 data (not shown) indicate that knowing
Asians is associated with more favorable views about the relative position of Asians
and partially explains some of the black-white differences. However, significant dif-
ferences between blacks and whites remain.
13. We also used multilevel modeling techniques to analyze the contextual effects on the
relative position of Asians. Results are in agreement with those presented in this article.
14. Results from descriptive and multivariate analyses of patriotism are slightly different
than those for other dependent variables. It could be that this measure reflects dif-
ferent views about assimilability, or it may be because of the fact that data for this
variable were only collected in 1990, instead reflecting a cohort/period issue.
15. Although this could be a result of multicollinearity among some of the independent
variables, none of the variables has a variance inflation factor (VIF) greater than 10,
a threshold above which statistical practitioners can infer that results are relatively
robust without major concerns about multicollinearity.
16. In 1990, respondents in the North were asked about marriage and living in the same
neighborhood with whites in the South, and respondents in the South were asked the
same about whites in the North. Because of the differences in question wording, we
included these 1990 measures in supplementary analyses to explore whether there
are any differences in the civic ostracism of Asian Americans over time. Predicted
probabilities show that although both blacks and whites have become racially more
egalitarian, the proportion of whites that rate Asians low has stayed the same (for
living in the same community) or has increased (for marriagebility) from 1990 to
post-2000 (see Table 5). However, we cannot be sure that these results reflect a fac-
tual trend that the civic ostracism of Asians has changed, or if the difference is an
artifact of wording changes in the GSS questionnaire.
17. Again, it should be noted that this difference could be attributed to the fact that
attitudes about patriotism were only assessed in 1990.
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Appendix
Table A1. Descriptions of Raw Dependent Variables
Raw
Dependent
Variables Question Wording
Racial Valorizaton (Superior/Inferior)
Family
Commitment
(2000)
Now I have some questions about different groups in our society. I’m
going to show you a seven-point scale on which the characteristics of
people in a group can be rated.
In the next statement, a score of 1 means that you think almost
everyone in the group “lacks a commitment to strong families.” A
score of 7 means that you think almost all of the people in the group
have a “commitment to strong families.” A score of 4 means that
you think that the group is not towards one end or the other, and of
course you may choose any number in between that comes closest to
where you think people in the group stand.
1 (no commitment) 4 (neutral) 7 (strong commitment)
So what about group name in general on this scale?
Intelligence
(1990, 2000)
Do people in these groups tend to be intelligent or unintelligent?
1 (unintelligent) 4 (neutral) 7 (intelligent)
So what about group name in general on this scale?
Nonviolence
(1990, 2000)
The next set asks if people in each group tend not to be prone to
violence.
1 (violence prone) 4 (neutral) 7 (not violence prone)
So what about group name in general on this scale?
Wealth
(1990, 1994,
2000)
In the next statement, a score of 1 means that you think almost
everyone in the group is “poor.” A score of 7 means that you think
almost all of the people in the group are “rich.” A score of 4 means
that you think that the group is not towards one end or the other, and
of course you may choose any number in between that comes closest
to where you think people in the group stand.
1 (poor) 4 (neutral) 7 (rich)
Where would you rate group name on this scale?
Work Ethic
(1990, 1994,
2000)
Do people in group name tend to be hard-working or lazy?
1 (lazy) 4 (neutral) 7 (hard-working)
Civic Ostracism (Insider/Foreigner)
Feeling
Thermometer
(2002)
In general, how warm or cold do you feel toward group name?
1 (very cold) 9 (very warm)
(Continued)
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Table A1. continued
Raw
Dependent
Variables Question Wording
Neighborhood
(2000)
Now I’m going to ask you about different types of contact with
various groups of people. In each situation would you please tell me
whether you would be very much in favor of it happening, somewhat
in favor, neither in favor nor opposed to it happening, somewhat
opposed, or very much opposed to it happening?
Living in a neighborhood where half of your neighbors were group
name?
1 (strongly oppose) 3 (neither favor nor oppose) 5 (strongly favor)
Marriage
(2000, 2004,
2006)
How about having a close relative or family member marry a group
name?
1 (strongly oppose) 3 (neither favor nor oppose) 5 (strongly
favor)
Patriotism
(1990)
Do people in group name tend to be patriotic or unpatriotic?
1 (unpatriotic) 4 (neutral) 7 (patriotic)
Notes: Variables are recoded such that higher scores correspond to more positive ratings.
Numbers in parenthesis correspond to survey year/s that the data for racial triangulation are
available. All question wording is extracted from the GSS cumulative codebook with minor
revisions (Davis and Smith 2009).
Table A2. Classification Schema of Dependent Variables
Relative Position Relative Rating
All equal Asians = whites = blacks
Asian high Asians > whites > blacks
Asians > blacks > whites
Asians > whites = blacks
Asians = whites > blacks
Asians = blacks > whites
Asian middle whites > Asians > blacks
blacks > Asians > whites
Asian low whites > blacks > Asians
blacks > whites > Asians
whites = blacks > Asians
whites > blacks = Asians
blacks > whites = Asians
Note: We also used the same classification schema for our analyses of the racial triangulation
of Hispanics by simply replacing Asians with Hispanics.
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Table A3. Multinomial Logit Regressions of Racial Valorization and Civic Acceptance with Selected Independent Variables
Racial Valorization Civic Ostracism
Family Intelligence Nonviolence Wealth
Work
Ethic
Feeling
Therm.
Neighbor-
hood Marriage Patriotism
Asians High Versus Asians Low
Black -.91** -.35 -.59** -.43** -.14 -.34 -.64 -.16 .27
(.29) (.19) (.19) (.14) (.17) (.29) (.36) (.24) (.34)
Age/10 -.02 -.08* -.18*** -.01 -.01 -.01 .06 -.03 .19**
(.07) (.04) (.04) (.03) (.04) (.05) (.06) (.05) (.07)
Male .06 -.13 -.10 -.07 .29** .34* -.03 .39** .04
(.22) (.14) (.13) (.09) (.10) (.15) (.19) (.13) (.22)
Northeast -.82* -.07 -.17 -.23 -.22 .04 -.03 .04 -.17
(.40) (.22) (.25) (.17) (.21) (.22) (.38) (.30) (.40)
Midwest -.75 -.07 .11 -.22 -0.37 -.04 .25 .14 .36
(.42) (.27) (.26) (.18) (.22) (.23) (.41) (.29) (.42)
South -.49 -.14 -.12 -.43* -.20 -.17 -.16 -.13 .10
(.43) (.28) (.27) (.18) (.23) (.24) (.45) (.29) (.45)
Education .09* .14*** .10*** .05** .16*** .07* .05 .03 .06
(.04) (.03) (.02) (.02) (.02) (.04) (.05) (.03) (.04)
Imputed income -.02 .05 -.09 .01 .09 -.15* .11 -.09 -.09
(.12) (.08) (.08) (.06) (.06) (.07) (.13) (.08) (.14)
Part-time employed -.38 .04 -.24 -.13 -.00 .30 -.01 -.51 -.38
(.33) (.21) (.23) (.14) (.18) (.23) (.31) (.34) (.29)
(Continued)
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Table A3. continued
Racial Valorization Civic Ostracism
Family Intelligence Nonviolence Wealth
Work
Ethic
Feeling
Therm.
Neighbor-
hood Marriage Patriotism
Unemployed -.37 -.21 -.71* -.18 -.03 .24 .28 -.59 -1.44
(.65) (.43) (.36) (.31) (.32) (.38) (.57) (.52) (1.11)
Other type employment -.44 .04 -.13 -.12 -.20 .14 -.17 .17 -1.11***
(.27) (.16) (.16) (.12) (.13) (.21) (.24) (.19) (.27)
Democrat .07 -.17 .17 -.09 -.07 -.06 -.26 -.03 .33
(.29) (.16) (.15) (.11) (.13) (.20) (.25) (.19) (.23)
Independent -.07 -.09 .14 -.17 .08 -.04 -.48* .02 .65*
(.26) (.18) (.15) (.10) (.12) (.17) (.23) (.18) (.28)
Other political
affiliation
.85 .06 -.48 .86 -.11 1.49** -.79 .36 -11.89***
(.88) (.78) (.75) (.47) (.37) (.54) (.94) (.62) (.73)
PSU Asian percent
college degree
.57 .55 1.07* .63 -.08 .97 .74 -1.68* .12
(.83) (.54) (.44) (.35) (.43) (.50) (.93) (.66) (.71)
PSU Ln median
household income
.25 -.05 -.30 .35*.14 .05 .89 .65 .07
(.90) (.39) (.26) (.16) (.24) (.52) (1.18) (.66) (.29)
Ln(Total Population) .08 -.02 .06 -.02 .08 .09 -.10 .05 .02
(.10) (.06) (.05) (.04) (.05) (.06) (.13) (.06) (.08)
PSU NH-Asian percent -.27 8.38*.33 2.66 .30 -.29 .78 -.19 -.40
(6.92) (3.82) (3.00) (1.95) (2.51) (2.25) (3.97) (2.42) (5.19)
PSU NH-black percent -.65 1.77 .61 1.98*** .71 -1.07 .15 .17 -.52
(1.27) (.96) (.66) (.56) (.73) (1.02) (1.57) (1.03) (1.64)
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PSU Hispanic percent -.53 .16 -.17 1.06* -.02 2.03** 1.76 1.24* 1.02
(1.37) (.60) (.76) (.48) (.54) (.66) (1.31) (.58) (1.38)
Asians Middle Versus Asians Low
Black -.98** -1.59*** -.67* .14 -.67** .28 -.68 -1.15*** -.84
(.31) (.40) (.30) (.16) (.23) (.24) (.51) (.25) (.49)
Age/10 .00 .11 .02 -.01 .04 .09 .08 .17*** .07
(.09) (.06) (.05) (.03) (.04) (.05) (.08) (.04) (.09)
Male -.15 .05 -.08 .18 .08 .78*** -.14 .20 -.04
(.24) (.17) (.17) (.11) (.13) (.15) (.32) (.13) (.25)
Northeast -.77 -.16 .10 -.03 .45 .43 -.16 .08 .42
(.61) (.29) (.31) (.20) (.26) (.24) (.48) (.21) (.45)
North Central -.72 -.04 .54 -.03 .20 .44 .23 .19 .31
(.57) (.33) (.28) (.20) (.26) (.28) (.50) (.20) (.48)
South -0.65 .02 .28 -0.21 .47 .40 .72 .30 .55
(.48) (.34) (.32) (.22) (.27) (.26) (.47) (.22) (.45)
Education -.10 .01 .00 .08*** -.02 .00 .02 .01 -.04
(.05) (.03) (.02) (.02) (.02) (.03) (.05) (.02) (.04)
Imputed income .01 .04 -.08 -.00 .01 -.11 .27 .00 .00
(.14) (.10) (.09) (.06) (.07) (.09) (.14) (.07) (.17)
Part-time employed -.05 -.02 -.21 .11 -.06 -.11 .69 -.34 -.71
(.48) (.30) (.25) (.14) (.23) (.37) (.39) (.20) (.46)
(Continued)
Asian Americans, Race Relations, Triangulation 29
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Table A3. continued
Racial Valorization Civic Ostracism
Family Intelligence Nonviolence Wealth
Work
Ethic
Feeling
Therm.
Neighbor-
hood Marriage Patriotism
Unemployed -1.95 1.06* .56 .50 .37 .46 -.14 -.16 .88
(1.24) (.46) (.42) (.29) (.36) (.42) (1.05) (.30) (.63)
Other type employment -.58 .08 -.18 -.16 -.15 .08 .45 -.10 -.08
(.35) (.23) (.21) (.13) (.16) (.24) (.32) (.15) (.33)
Democrat .20 .11 .05 -.07 .20 -.16 -.00 .10 -.03
(.44) (.22) (.21) (.13) (.17) (.22) (.32) (.15) (.32)
Independent -.31 .04 .02 -.28* .03 -.41* .13 -.06 -.09
(.34) (.22) (.19) (.12) (.16) (.19) (.29) (.14) (.32)
Other political
affiliation
.41 .15 -.46 .70 -.74 .39 .83 .08 .99
(1.37) (1.32) (.94) (.51) (.82) (.79) (.90) (.60) (1.23)
PSU Asian percent
college degree
1.03 .76 .13 .80 .13 -.84 -.10 -.16 .42
(1.54) (.67) (.63) (.42) (.51) (.61) (1.01) (.44) (.59)
PSU Ln median
household income
-1.95 .14 .33* .27 -.30 -.53 .82 -.05 .17
(1.17) (.17) (.16) (.26) (.39) (.62) (1.08) (.39) (.23)
Ln(total population) .22 -.01 -.05 -.00 .02 .07 .11 -.03 -.00
(.16) (.08) (.07) (.05) (.06) (.07) (.11) (.05) (.08)
PSU NH-Asian percent -13.53 -2.34 1.36 -1.19 -4.08 5.50* .01 -2.99 2.24
(9.30) (6.10) (4.35) (2.72) (3.87) (2.75) (4.50) (2.80) (5.71)
PSU NH-black percent -.83 .81 1.70 1.12 .14 .19 -2.71* -.26 .93
(1.32) (1.43) (1.01) (.76) (.84) (.78) (1.08) (.87) (1.48)
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PSU Hispanic percent 1.24 -.33 1.37 1.08 .44 .36 -.12 1.31** -.38
(1.44) (.81) (.89) (.56) (.65) (1.05) (1.07) (.41) (1.10)
All Groups Equal Versus Asians Low
Black -.53 -.01 .02 -.50*-.17 -.01 .22 .46** .44
(.37) (.20) (.21) (.25) (.20) (.17) (.19) (.14) (.25)
Age/10 -.05 -.18*** -.13** -.08 -.16*** -.00 -.03 -.24*** .01
(.07) (.04) (.04) (.04) (.04) (.03) (.04) (.03) (.05)
Male -.41 -.08 -.35* -.07 .17 .14 .16 .08 -.06
(.23) (.13) (.15) (.13) (.11) (.10) (.15) (.08) (.17)
Northeast -.96* -.22 -.43 -.13 -.11 .32 .08 -.19 .21
(.46) (.22) (.22) (.26) (.26) (.21) (.30) (.19) (.31)
North Central -1.22** -.16 -.27 -.06 -.18 .23 -.03 -.18 .03
(.46) (.24) (.23) (.26) (.26) (.20) (.31) (.17) (.29)
South -.88 .06 -.26 .07 .03 .08 .18 -.44* .40
(.47) (.27) (.26) (.29) (.29) (.18) (.33) (.20) (.36)
Education .06 .20*** .14*** .03 .15*** .05** .09** .08*** .04
(.04) (.03) (.03) (.03) (.02) (.02) (.03) (.02) (.03)
Imputed income -.17 -.02 -.08 -.29*** .00 .02 -.04 -.02 .07
(.11) (.07) (.09) (.08) (.07) (.05) (.09) (.04) (.09)
Part-time employed -.16 .16 .09 .13 .25 .19 .02 -.06 -.20
(.34) (.20) (.22) (.18) (.17) (.15) (.21) (.14) (.24)
Unemployed -.35 -.04 -.60 .29 .14 -.04 .30 -.18 -.05
(.76) (.38) (.44) (.40) (.35) (.26) (.42) (.22) (.50)
(Continued)
Asian Americans, Race Relations, Triangulation 31
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Table A3. continued
Racial Valorization Civic Ostracism
Family Intelligence Nonviolence Wealth
Work
Ethic
Feeling
Therm.
Neighbor-
hood Marriage Patriotism
Other type employment -.51* -.03 -.25 -.09 -.00 -.11 -.03 .03 -.23
(.25) (.16) (.17) (.19) (.15) (.13) (.19) (.10) (.18)
Democrat 0.06 .01 .30 -.01 .16 -.12 .11 .45*** -.07
(.31) (.17) (.18) (.18) (.15) (.11) (.20) (.10) (.16)
Independent -.09 .25 .17 .05 .29* .09 .35* .50*** -.06
(.26) (.17) (.16) (.16) (.14) (.12) (.16) (.10) (.18)
Other political
affiliation
.88 1.53* .80 .34 .10 1.25* .82 .86*.64
(1.09) (.68) (.58) (.75) (.46) (.49) (.52) (.40) (.82)
PSU Asian percent
college degree
.23 .11 .34 -.43 -.38 .05 .56 -.42 -.41
(.70) (.45) (.45) (.47) (.44) (.35) (.61) (.42) (.53)
PSU Ln median
household income
.33 .10 .08 .34 .35 .03 .55 .44 -.08
(.77) (.22) (.19) (.25) (.30) (.39) (.61) (.34) (.29)
Ln(total population) .21* .03 .02 -.06 .05 -.04 -.00 .00 .06
(.09) (.05) (.04) (.05) (.05) (.04) (.08) (.04) (.06)
PSU NH-Asian percent -10.95 3.34 -2.02 2.22 -3.62 4.63*-3.22 -.95 2.92
(6.90) (3.58) (2.88) (3.65) (3.29) (1.98) (3.13) (1.98) (4.03)
PSU NH-black percent -1.09 -1.15 -1.31 .17 -1.13 -1.68*** -1.22 -.55 -2.83*
(.85) (.88) (.77) (.88) (.82) (.47) (.82) (.73) (1.43)
PSU Hispanic percent -2.93 -.58 -.02 .42 -.06 .59 -.48 1.02** -.62
(1.60) (.53) (.69) (.64) (.62) (.46) (.84) (.37) (.70)
Observations 1122 2276 2251 3560 3531 2490 1173 3609 1102
* p < .05 ** p < .01 *** p < .001
Note: Standard errors in parentheses.
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Asian Americans, Race Relations, Triangulation 35
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... Unlike African Americans' struggles, the Asian American movements started much later in 1960s (Wei, 1993). Studies have found that Asian Americans are still seen as "forever foreigners" (Okihiro, 2014;Xu & Lee, 2013). Being viewed as clumsy and lacking appropriate skills, Asian Americans were left out in the socialization process of the US society (Fiske et al., 2002). ...
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... First, it falsely implies that A/AA do not experience health disparities despite empirical research suggesting otherwise (Ibaraki et al., 20142014). Furthermore, it obscures the structural inequalities impacting A/AA (Xu & Lee, 2013), resulting in decreased funding, research, and policies targeting A/AA health disparities (J. H. J. Kim et al., 2021), and further reinforcing racialized stereotypes and structural inequalities . ...
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