Friday, July 8, 2011

The Census, Part II: Pacific Islanders in New York City

Last year, I wrote a post about the 2000 U.S. Census data on Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the United States, in New York State, and in New York City. Now the data is in from the 2010 census - yay! - and it is very interesting stuff!

In the United States

First off, much of my data for this post is from this U.S. Census Bureau report, and this interactive U.S. Census Bureau website.

As you may recall, the 2000 census was the first time in U.S. history that respondents could select more than one race in describing themselves. What we got, then, with the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population was a greater number of respondents checking "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander" in combination with other races than those who checked "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander" alone, suggesting that most Pacific Islander Americans self-identify as multiple races rather than as only Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

The big news about the 2010 census has been the surprisingly new and large number of respondents self-identifying as more than one race. In terms of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population, the 2010 data maintains the trend from 2000: 55.9% of the respondents in 2010 identifying as "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander" also listed one or more other races, while 44.1% identified as "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander" only. It should be noted that Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are the only racial category in the 2010 census where a majority of respondents identified as multiracial. For all other racial categories, including American Indian and Alaska Native, the majority of respondents identified as only one race.

In the United States as a whole, the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population grew phenomenally over the past decade! The Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (one race only) population grew from 398,835 in 2000 to 540,013 in 2010, a 35.4% increase! In addition, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in combination with one or more other races now comprise 685,182 persons in 2010. (Sorry, can't find 2000 data to compare right now.) In sum, Americans claiming some Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander racial identity comprise 1,225,195 persons. When we look at the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander-only population's 35.4% increase in the past decade, we need to keep in mind that the U.S. population on a whole only increased 9.7% since 2000, and non-Hispanic Whites grew by only 1.2%, the smallest increase of any ethnic/racial category. The only racial group outpacing Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in growth were Asians, growing 43.3% since 2000. Students of Hawaiian history who are familiar with the rapid decline in the indigenous Hawaiian population since 1778 (and well into the twentieth century) will be heartened by these numbers!

As a percentage of total population, every racial category in the United States grew except for one, Whites, whom altogether decreased from 75% to 72% of the total population. Taking up some of that lost ground are the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders who from 2000 to 2010 increased from 0.1% to 0.2% of the U.S. population. Not such a great gain, but I always like to keep in mind that Native Hawaiians make up a full 1% of the U.S. Senate (Daniel Akaka)! (It is nice to see some overrepresentation of racial minorities in U.S. government for a change!)

Now, wouldn't it be interesting to break down the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population that identified as multiracial into subcategories based on which other races they identified as? I couldn't find this data in 2000, but the Census Bureau has made it available for 2010, so let's do it! I'm about ready to label the 2010s as the decade of U.S. multiracialism! (I find these trends really exciting, as does the New York Times, and ya know, if white supremacists don't like that, well then they can just stop reading this blog!) :)

Total multiracial Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population: 685,182
Two races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and White: 169,991
Two races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Black/African American: 50,308
Two races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native: 11,039
Two races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Asian: 165,690
Two races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Some Other Race (not listed): 58,981
Three races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, White, and Black: 9,245
Three races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, White, American Indian/Alaska Native: 8,656
Three races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, White, and Asian: 143,126
Three races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, White, and Some Other Race (unlisted): 9,181
Three races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Black, and Am Indian/Alaska Native: 2,142
Three races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Black, and Asian: 7,295
Three races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Black, and Some Other Race (unlisted): 4,233
Three races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Am Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian: 3,827
Three races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Am Indian/Alaska Native, Other Race: 2,000
Three races: Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Asian, and Some Other Race: 5,474
Data for four or more races not available at this level.

Fascinating! I am especially intrigued by how neck-and-neck the two-race White mix is with the two-race Asian mix. And then there is the three-way Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Asian, and White mix that is almost as large as either of the two. As a historian, I think about the frequency of White-Hawaiian mixing in the early nineteenth century, and then the rise of Asian-Hawaiian mixing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries due to the importation of tens of thousands of Asian "coolies" to labor on Hawaiian sugar plantations. But even beyond these multiracial groupings, which are well-known to most residents of Hawaiʻi if not most Americans (or at least students of history like me!), each other combination tells an equally compelling and intriguing story about American history. But we can't so easily come up with over-arching narratives for each category. I could speculate as to why, for example, historically, Hawaiians and Alaskans have intermarried (although marriage doesn't necessarily have anything to do with it, and also, the data above does not exactly support any claim that Hawaiians and Alaskans specifically have had mixed-race children; it is just a hypothetical example), but the reality is that each person and his or her family has a unique story to tell. Yes there were reasons why Hawaiian laborers traveled abroad in search of work (a sub-topic of my forthcoming dissertation!), but that can't explain why people fell in love with who they did, or didn't. I'd love to know some of these stories, to trace the genealogies of multiracial Pacific Islander America. Maybe in 2020 they can include a section for stories on the census form! Let people identify themselves by their heritage: not just the color of their skin or the nation of their birth, but by reciting the stories that have been handed down by parents, grandparents and ancestors that all come together in that big mash-up of narrative history that is our own biography.

Looking back at these numbers, it seems certain (I'm crunching numbers in my head here!) that people claiming Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander racial identity comprise well over 5%, if not close to 10%, of all Americans identified as multiracial. Remember that one-race-only Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders comprise only 0.2% of the entire U.S. population, but they are much better represented when shown as a proportion of the American multiracial community.

In New York State

Now the fun stuff. Last year I noted that in 1990, 4,457 New York State residents identified as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (no multiple race option in 1990), but that number jumped to 8,818 Pacific Islanders (one race only) and 28,612 multiracial Pacific Islanders in 2000. That big change was apparently due to changes in reporting. Anyway, in 2010 the number of New York State residents identifying as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (one race only) is 8,766. Sadly, a decrease of 52 persons since ten years ago! Unfortunately, I do not have state-level multiracial data to compare with 2000, so it could be possible that the total population identifying as at least part-Pacific Islander may have increased since 2000, but the one race only population has indeed fallen.

I also reported last year that in 2000 the top three New York State counties with Pacific Islander populations comprising more than 0.3% of the total population (above the national average of 0.2%) were Bronx, Jefferson, and Tompkins counties. Strange, yes, but true.

I am sad to report that in 2010 the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population of beautiful upstate Jefferson County where Lake Ontario flows into the sparkling St. Lawrence River fell to just 298 people, 0.256% of the county population. Thus, be it due to reporting errors or a mass exodus from this northern paradise, we have to take Jefferson County off that special list from 2000.

Tompkins County is even more distressing. In 2010 only 45 locals identified as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, just 0.044% of the county population! There would have been over 250 other Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders in town ten years ago to account for the 2000 data. What happened? Perhaps they were all enrollees at Cornell - a massive influx of Pacific Islanders getting Ivy League degrees ten years ago, but now graduated and moved on to greener pastures?

And in The Bronx? 1,288 Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. Just 0.093% of the county population! That means close to 3,000 Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders took the last MetroNorth out of town (headed to Jefferson County?) in the past decade, abandoning the Bronx's once thriving Pacific Islander American community.

But wait! I am sorry to say that this data analysis is reflective of a major reporting error on my part. See, those three counties made the list in 2000 because 0.3% of the population comprised not just Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (one race only) respondents, but also those who listed multiple races including Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. That data, however, is not available yet on the county level for 2010, so we just can't say which county has made the list this decade, and which one has not. But as for Jefferson County, with almost 0.3% of the population comprised of one-race-only respondents, it might just have the highest proportion of Pacific Islanders of any New York State county! What is going on up there? If there is a reader of this blog from Jefferson County, NY, would you please explain this to me!

In New York City

Let's take it to the Big (Pine)Apple. I previously reported that in 2000, 5,430 New Yorkers identified as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander alone. 19,203 New Yorkers identified as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander as one of multiple races.

In 2010, 5,147 New Yorkers identified solely as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, a decrease of 283 persons. Unfortunately, the data on multiracial Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders in NYC is not yet available at this time.

I can say this time around that the borough with the most one race only Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders is Queens County with 1,530 people. The Bronx is next with 1,288. Brooklyn has 1,243. Manhattan has 873. Staten Island - not so friendly to other "islanders," it seems - has only 213 Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. On a whole, well over half of all Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in NYS live in the big city rather than upstate or on Long Island.

Unfortunately, my favorite Hawaiian friend in New York City - my former Hawaiian language teacher - has left for the islands - the real islands, Hawaiʻi nei - and that means we've suffered a decrease of yet another 1 person of Native Hawaiian ancestry in this Big (Pine)Apple. But Hālāwai goes on, with hula classes and performances, and get-togethers with lots of yummy food and always lots of aloha. I have cherished so much making new Hawaiian friends here in NYC. They have no reason to share their aloha with me, but they do. And for that I am constantly reminded, and re-motivated, to attend to my dissertation research on Hawaiian history. There are such amazing stories about the past to be told, and somehow it all unfolds into this magical, mysterious present. And somehow it makes sense of the census data, or at least it will make sense someday once I figure out all this damn data!

Aloha kākou!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Prepping for Orals II

It has been two and a half weeks since my last post about "Prepping for Orals," and I haven't read as many books in the meantime as I had hoped to. This is likely because I got so caught up rallying at the New York State Capitol for LGBT rights - for the right of all New Yorkers to marry the person they love. And we won! On Friday evening, June 24th, after weeks of making phone calls to senators, delivering petitions to senators at the Capitol, and rallying many days after work inside the Capitol building, singing, chanting, dancing, and making new friends - after all that - many courageous Republican senators stood up for civil rights and voted "yes," making same-sex marriage legal in New York State!

This is one of my favorite photographs I took on Friday, June 24th, just hours before the New York State senate approved marriage equality. "Love is love is love."
More of my photos from June 24th can be seen at my Flickr page.

I took two videos of our chanting/singing on the Great Western Staircase of the New York State Capitol, just hours before the senate's passage of the marriage equality bill. This one was our anthem: "Chapel of Love"


This chant came out of nowhere, but quickly overpowered our opposition's chant of "Vote No!": "Love will win. Hate go home."

After rallying at the capitol on that final day, I got on a bus to NYC to be with my partner. By the time I arrived in Manhattan, the senate was just about to begin deliberations on the Marriage Equality bill. We joined nearly 50,000 others tuning in to watch the senate live online. We cried multiple times during the proceedings! I certainly did when Senator Steve Saland, from the Hudson Valley, spoke and for the first time publicly committed to supporting marriage equality. We both cried when Senator Tom Duane, the sponsor of the bill, explained why the bill mattered so much to him, about the discrimination he had faced his whole life as an openly gay New Yorker, and about the dream deferred that he and his partner, Louis, shared - the dream of marriage.

After the vote we joined nearly 1,000 others outside the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street where the LGBT rights movement began almost exactly 42 years earlier! What a celebration!

Celebrants outside the Stonewall Inn (covered in rainbow flags) along Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, NYC, June 24, 2011.
More of my photographs from that historic day can be seen at my Flickr page.

Two days later we marched alongside Governor Andrew Cuomo (and personally met former Governor David Paterson!) in the NYC Pride Parade:

View from within the Pride Parade, looking down Fifth Avenue. There were approximately 500,000 celebrants there! June 26, 2011.

And so, caught up first in the fight, and then in the euphoria, I missed the opportunity to really get ahead with my orals preparation. (Oh, boo hoo. Big deal.) :)

An ever-evolving bibliography

Now a word about what I've been reading lately. You can see my earlier post about orals for a refresher on my three examination fields, and what I've read so far.

Early American history:

Since reading Richard White and Karl Jacoby, I haven't picked up any other early American history reads except for one, and this one is by far the best of the lot: John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive (1994). Demos is pretty forthcoming in his introduction that, after decades of social-science-y social history - after reading too many books focused more on numbers than on stories - he really wanted to write "narrative history." And he has done a remarkable job. Scholars might accuse him of being a bit fast with the facts, or at least not fully forthcoming with where he gets all his ideas, but I say "so what?" I have never believed that history is a science. I think it truly is just another form of story-telling, perhaps one where we take ourselves a bit too seriously. I think facts are messy, fluid, and can change over time. Yup, I think facts can change. I don't even think objectivity was ever that "noble" of a dream! Anyway, after a colleague remarked that my effort to tell the story of a captive red-tailed tropicbird in the mid-nineteenth-century Pacific guano industry was like trying to write a "John Demos"-style history of birds, I knew I had to read this classic book. The book concerns Eunice Williams, a young girl from a Puritan family in Massachusetts who is captured as a child by Mohawk Indians and transported to a French-Catholic influenced Indian town on the St. Lawrence River. While her other family members are eventually released and return to good old Protestant English country life, she stays behind. She forgets English. She converts to Catholicism. She takes an Indian husband. She raised a family. She is "unredeemed." Demos tells a compelling story, and the reader learns a lot about early eighteenth-century America. Frankly, the book was so much fun to read! Why can't all history books be like this one?!

Chinese history:

Besides Demos, I've devoted the past three weeks to reading Chinese history. Yes, I'm still reading Elvin's Retreat of the Elephants. I have made little progress since last update, and I don't plan to make much more this summer. Spending a beautiful summer afternoon reading Retreat of the Elephants is like sitting next to a beautiful, cold stream in upstate New York and choosing to burn under the sun rather than jump in for a swim. (Let's just say reading John Demos is more like swimming!) I can be ascetic when I want to, but I think that selecting this book as summer reading went just too far!

I finished Frederic Wakeman Jr.'s Strangers at the Gate (1966). It really is a great work considering it was written in the 1960s, a dark time for history when few were concerned about the history of "little people." But Wakeman is concerned. He tells a tale of local resistance to Western imperialism in Canton (Guangzhou) in the 1840s and 1850s. Certainly allegiances shifted quite a bit over these twenty years, but the one constant was that local people just could not stand the idea of allowing Western peoples, or especially Western soldiers, inside the Canton city walls. Other histories I've read sometimes paint the 1842 signing of the Treaty of Nanjing as a done-deal: as if with the stroke of a pen Britain had conquered China and changed it irrevocably. Wakeman makes clear that the resistance did not end with 1842, and he shows nicely how the social disorder that led to the Taiping uprising (the largest internal rebellion / civil war in Chinese history, 1851-1865) was born out of the local disruptions caused by the imperial desires of the British.

It was of benefit after reading Wakeman to read Paul Cohen's Discovering History in China (1984), a historiography of American writing on "modern" Chinese history. After all my talk last post about "early modernity" versus "modernity" in different historical contexts, Cohen gave me a lot more to chew on considering how our idea of "modernity" is shaped by a Eurocentric historiography. It was long considered that China's "modernity" began with the "Western shock" of the Opium War (1839-1842), but Cohen shows (and this was back in the 1980s) that younger historians were beginning to question this periodization. Contentious terms that Cohen attempts to deconstruct include "modernity" but also "imperialism" and "tradition," and he seeks to develop a "China-centric" approach to Chinese history. It is an interesting read, mostly because the book is now almost thirty years old. It is interesting because, in one sense, I think that teachers - if not scholars - still have a fight ahead of us in terms of moving away from a Western-centric approach to Chinese history. Students still find it much easier to memorize the Opium War as a moment of cataclysmic change in Chinese history, than to move beyond the generalizations towards an understanding of the currents of change and continuity within China that occurred apart from Western influence. On the other hand, Cohen's historiography is dated. His enthusiasm for "bottom up" social history is exciting to me - because I think we still need more of that kind of history - but it is also really "old news" now thirty years later. His concern with how the Vietnam War shaped American writing on China is also interesting, but now, in a post-Cold War world, where U.S. relations with China are quite different, how applicable are his concerns?

So now I turn to Keith Schoppa's Xiang Lake (now published as Song Full of Tears: Nine Centuries of Chinese Life at Xiang Lake) (1989; 2002). I only began reading this a few days ago. It deals with nine centuries of history around one small, artificial lake near Hangzhou in South China. I am already reminded that Elvin, in Retreat of the Elephants, wrote quite a bit about Hangzhou Bay and its millennium of ecological change in his chapter about Chinese water usage. But Schoppa's approach is so different, focused on stories told about the lake, rather than about the gritty details of silt deposition, etc. Robert Marks has dealt with a similar watery, silty topic in his analysis of the Pearl River Delta. Each author has a different approach to telling the history of watery change over millennia as forests are cut, soil erosion increases, deposition and sedimentation increase, deltas grow, rivers change course (especially the Yellow River in North China!), people reclaim lakebeds or polders, etc., etc. It is amazing to see the maps showing how the borders of lakes, rivers, or deltas have shifted so much over one thousand years, partly due to natural change, but mostly due to anthropogenic change. Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading Schoppa's book for what it might tell me about how historians can approach writing Chinese environmental history, because I need better models than what I've read so far!

Next up in Early American history is: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife's Tale (1990). I can't wait!

Finally, here are some photographs I took at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC to get us thinking more about Chinese history:

Early twentieth-century Chinese bridal chair. This object would have been made by the groom's family. A number of very influential Chinese films begin with scenes of brides being carried in this type of chair, although not nearly so elaborately crafted, including Yellow Earth (1984) and Red Sorghum (1987).

Detail from the bridal chair

Tobacco pipes from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Tobacco, an American plant, was first imported into China in the late Ming dyasty (early seventeenth-century), and was rapidly incorporated into Chinese culture. Timothy Brook, in his lovely book Vermeer's Hat (2007), tells this story in a chapter called "School for Smoking."

These are examples of snuff boxes used for holding tobacco. They also date from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Snuff boxes, be they carved from jade or some other precious material, showed the status of the smoker, much as smoking tobacco itself was often a signifier of status.

Between the pipes and the snuff boxes, we can see the great influence that one American plant had on Chinese material culture. Unfortunately, most museum visitors won't recognize this fact, because there is no interpretation about tobacco in this exhibit! Most visitors will see these objects as "indigenous" and "timeless" reflecting a long history of Chinese smoking culture (just as most Americans probably think Chinese have smoked opium for millenia). The reality is that recreational smoking was a learned activity in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and was greatly influenced by China's transoceanic relationships with European empires.

An imagining of Ming-era Beijing, probably fifteenth or sixteenth century CE. The view is from the southwest corner of the city wall looking in. It is interesting to note what is taking place outside the city wall: lots of dromedaries (!), obviously lots of traders from across Inner Asia; the canal and canalboats: more trade. Is what takes place outside the city wall extralegal? Who is allowed in, and who is allowed out? I find this diorama raises lots of interesting questions for me about Ming urbanity. Anyway, anyone who has been to Beijing lately (I was there in 2004 and 2006) knows that the city's footprint has expanded WELL beyond the original city wall!

Here is a close-up view of the Forbidden City, and the big hill next to it (which I climbed up in 2006) which was artificially constructed with landfill.

Well, got to get back to my readings! Happy summer everyone! And happy 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party! And happy anniversary of American Independence! It will certainly be a weekend of much history-distortion by our political leaders!