Asians and Pacific Islanders in U.S. Society

Asians and Pacific Islanders in U.S. Society

Racial Formation

Omi and Winant (2015) define race formation as the process through which social and historical race designations are developed, inhabited, transformed, and terminated. It also demonstrates the way society has socially constructed race; the way processes linked to political, economic, and social forces determine the formation of racial hierarchies and categories. Through race formation, people can not only define but also redefine the identities of specific races. Race formation occurs in two unique levels: the macro level and the micro level. The macro-level encompasses the broad-reaching effect of specific political projects and social structures launched in opposition to and by the racial state, for instance, the ruling of the law court. On the micro-level, race formation is an outcome of people’s everyday experiences and common sense (Omi & Winant, 2015). The racial state is the facilitator of micro and macro level processes, and it involves government institutions whereby court decisions and laws determine the racial relations’ trajectory.

Race formation is a common aspect of the history of Asian Pacific Islanders (APIs). It resulted in the racial oppression of APIs, which manifested through institutional and territorial segregation, political disenfranchisement, inequality, and cultural domination. During colonization, colonial powers subjugated APIs through territorial control and consolidation, which they achieved by state practices such as discrimination, segregation, and forced assimilation. Such actions involve the racial formation process (Omi & Winant, 2015). Colonial powers also created political and legal structures, which racialized APIs and subordinated them. Even with the end of colonialism, APIs continued to experience state-sanctioned racism, which included diverse practices such as municipal ordinances, federal censuses, private regulations, and legal statutes. Such racial formation practices were applied to not only create but also enforce racial hierarchies and white supremacy among API communities. The whites believed they were racially superior to APIs (Lee, 2016). In effect, they created racial classification structures and systems in education, economy, politics, and society to culturally and racially dominate them.

Asian immigrants have demonstrated urgency in responding to these issues in history in several ways. Asian immigrants have opposed these problems through affirmative action, legal actions, slowdowns, and strikes. Once they became conscious of their racist dehumanization through the press and U.S government, they started to reject and oppose the passive racist classification that the white-imposed on them, embracing an active stand against racial formation (Omi & Winant, 2015). Through their mass movement and protests, Asian immigrants radically changed the personal and political consciousness, as well as various Asian-American communities’ institutional infrastructure. Asian immigrants’ consciousness about racial formation has retained both institutional expression and ideological influence in several progressive organizations that Asian immigrants belong (Wing, 2014). As a result, it continues to thrive and increase new expressions, as the immigrant’s nativity changes in the coming decades. Besides, the Asian’s intersection of nationality and race is objective, subjective, and an ongoing formation.

Policies in the U.S higher education have shaped the approach of constructing the APIs’ racial formations. Racial formation i represented by Asian American college students and the media, administrators, and policymakers construct them in a manner that they sustain the American education’s racial status quo. The U.S higher education system reinforces white dominance given that it has removed Asians from the affirmative action (Lee, 2006). Indeed, APIs are not and were not subject to similar legislation and representation as whites. Instead, U.S society has mainly racialized them as aliens and foreigners. Because of such a perception of the minority groups, it presents drastic impacts on the inequalities between races, ensuring the whites remain on the top while the minorities continue to struggle to succeed.

Word Count: 600

Racial Projects

Racial projects refer to the efforts directed to shaping and distributing capital or resources. Omi and Winant (2015) define racial projects as the building blocks that create the racial formation process, allowing people to understand the way racial categorizations are organized hierarchically over time such that they benefit one racial or ethnic group over the other. Through identifying these racial projects, they can know how race, including its structural outcomes and meanings, is both contested and constructed given its social environment. According to Omi and Winant (2015), racial projects explain, interpret, and represent racial meanings and identities, At the same time, they focus on organizing and distributing cultural, political, and economic resources along specific racial lines. In effect, racial projects not only look into race but also they ascribe it with meanings, which shed awareness on the way the wider social structure integrates this concept. Then again, racial projects have the likelihood to either reproduce the prominent ethnic structure or undermine it, and they occur through institutions, groups or individuals.

In the APIs history, APIs are viewed and racialized as aliens and foreigners. Such racialization is evident in the legislation that has in the past excluded Asian APIs from immigration. It has also denied Asian immigrants naturalization through the 1990-2 Supreme Court rulings (Omi & Winant, 2015). Given that the applicants naturalized were not Caucasian, the court ruled that they did not qualify, as it considered them unassimilable by nature. When the Second World War ended, the US refused to grant Asian immigrants citizenship and naturalization rights. Because of Pearl Harbor bombing and wartime panic, Asian immigrants’ loyalty and foreignness were in jeopardy (Lee, 2016). It also contributed to current racialization.

Asian immigrants demonstrate urgency in responding to these social issues, especially in the way they handle the model minority concept and yellow peril foreigners’ stereotyping. They have tried to overcome such adversity through their cultural values and hard work, for instance, higher education levels. Even as the current racial projects continue to foster and create a racial classification, Asian immigrants work hard in such systems with the intent to transcend different ethnic groupings. Many Americans fear that Asian immigrants may take over their country due to their increasing presence and influence in global politics. They are also viewed as non-white and forever foreign, which leads to the subjugation. Consequently, they tolerate backlash from white labor groups. Asian immigrants are also protesting and challenging the laws and policies that delimit their social, economic, and political lives (Lee, 2006). They try to overcome the model minority by respecting the authority and fostering strong family values.

Today, when policymakers and scholars evaluate the needs of minority students in U.S colleges and universities, they focus on Native American groups, Latinos, and African Americans since they view that they are underrepresented in higher education. Because of this, U.S society neglected Asian American communities. However, it is not clear where minority groups like APIs fit into the diversity of America’s higher education. Manly, racial projects can be considered the sole reason for such development. History shows that Asian Americans have experienced adverse disadvantages and underrepresentation. Many believe that Asian Americans are overrepresented today. The typical facet of these racial projects is the way they skew people’s perception of others on a micro-level, as well as the populations on a macro level (Lee, 2006). Indeed, such racial projects lead to a broader racial formation, which is the natural way for people to organize and view and evaluate the world based on race.

Word Count: 600


















Lee, E. (2016). The making of Asian America: A history. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Lee, S. S. (2006). Over-represented and de-minoritized: The racialization of Asian Americans in higher education. UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, 2(2), 1-17. Retrieved from

Omi, M., & Winant, H. (2015). Racial formation in the United States. New York, NY: Routledge.

Wing, B. (2014, June 30). Crossing race and nationality: The racial formation of Asian Americans, 1852-1965. Retrieved from