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May 27, 2022 2 min read

Thinking Outside the [Census] Box

A hand squeezing a globe focused on the Pacific Ocean side of Asia into a bulging check box.
What happens when you try to shove different cultures that span literally 40% of the globe into a box? (Photo illustration by Valerie Osier)

During Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a coalition of organizations pushes for disaggregation.

We’re at the end of Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month and hopefully you’ve had a chance to go to one of the many events hosted around town celebrating the rich and almost unfathomably diverse peoples and cultures represented.

The majority of those events were put on by a coalition led by two organizations: APIC Spokane, whose mission is advocating for racial, social, and economic justice for Asians & Asian Americans in solidarity with Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and other systematically oppressed communities, and the Pacific Islander Community Association of WA an organization dedicated to establishing a cultural home, centering community power, and furthering the wellness of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities physically, culturally, socially and spiritually.

These two partner organizations rallied around using this month to draw attention to their criticisms of the imposed category “Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.”

The category groups wildly different cultures that span literally 40% of the globe, lumping together the American diaspora of over 60% of the world’s population – everything from Bangladeshi-Americans to Tahitians — in one category.

So, are we really spotlighting this incredible individual and cultural diversity by smashing them all into one month? And beyond that, you’ll hear our guests, Ryann Louie and Sarah Dixit of APIC talk about how statistical aggregation papers over legacies of colonial violence and completely obscures real disparities in health outcomes and death for many Pacific Islander communities.

There is a lot of excess death – unnecessary death, preventable death – happening that is not truly understood because of how we lump people together statistically.

In this podcast, you’ll hear about their efforts to push for race data disaggregation and why it’s important. You’ll also hear what you can do to help, like not using aggregated terms, asking aggregated organizations if they do have NH/PI representation and simply following APIC and PICA on social media.

ALSO, don’t miss the companion art show called “Hidden in Plain Sight” that is only open for three more days, through May 28 at the new Terrain Gallery at 628 N. Monroe.

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