Why we need Asian Americans 2

The second reason we need Asian Americans to be Asian Americans is health and wholeness. Healthy psychological, physical, and social lives are at stake. Here’s what the data says, via Asian American Health Initiative:

  • Hepatitis B is one of the largest health threats for Asians. Asian Americans account for over half of deaths resulting from chronic Hepatitis B infection in the U.S.
  • Mental health problems in the Asian American community are disturbingly high, yet its services are inadequate.
  • As many as 90% of Asian Americans are lactose intolerant or cannot easily digest dairy products.
  • Asian Americans have a higher prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) than all other racial and ethnic groups.

And on the social & psychological front, Asian Americans need Asian American role models, those who are not super-accomplished superstars, but those who are average Asian Americans, who identify with other Asian Americans. Asian Americans would be healthier on the whole if they can have access to psychological and social help for the challenges of life. And when this help is perceived as unavailable or too shameful to get, despair drive too many towards the terrible choice of suicide. cf. A Family Suicide Risk in US Asians? @ Time 8/19/08. Asian Americans’ Rising Suicide Rates @ newamericamedia.org 8/13/09.
And, listen to this interview of Kathy Lim Ko (director of The Asian and Pacific Islander Health Care Forum) by Allison Keyes on NPR’s Tell Me More: Tackling Asian American Health Disparities.

[update 8:30am] // Now for most of us who are healthy and life is good, it may be hard to relate to the life challenges that some Asian Americans face. Believe you me, all of us will face some challenges in life somewhere along the way. And even the most together and/or accomplished Asian American can hit psychological road bumps; the silent killer, if you will. In other words, there’s an undeniable uniqueness to our genetic makeup as Asian Americans, embedded in the biological fibers of our being. And, for most of us having had formative times in an Asian cultural context, that shapes us, as well as being obviously Asian American in appearance, we have a shared experience of sorts as a minority in a (currently) Anglo-majority American context. //

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