Not a Monolith: Understanding of Racism and Racialization among Korean, Pacific Islander, South Asian, and Vietnamese Women

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Asian, Pacific Islander, qualitative research, racialization, racism


The people within the Asian and Pacific Islander racial/ethnic category used in the United States are often misrepresented as a monolithic group when, in reality, the group includes people from over 48 different countries with diverse cultures, languages, and customs. Asian and Pacific Islander people experience racism and racialization in nuanced ways that are influenced by immigrant generations, histories of colonization, and origin countries’ relationship with the US. This study examines the racialized experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander women in the United States. Focus groups were held with 21 Korean, Pacific Islander, South Asian, and Vietnamese women in the United States to explore their experiences of racism and racialization. Data were analyzed using an iterative coding and theme-generation process. Findings indicate that among these groups, there is a heightened awareness of racism both toward their own racial/ethnic group as well as toward other minoritized populations, a recognition of the importance of solidarity among people of color to combat racism and the difficulties in sustaining solidarity, and nuanced ways in which different Asian and Pacific Islander people navigate their own racialization.



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Author Biographies

Monica De La Cruz, University of California, Berkeley

Monica De La Cruz is a doctoral candidate in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests focus on ways to ameliorate economic inequality in communities of color. She has extensive experience studying economic and racial equity through qualitative, community-based and community-driven participatory research. She has published in Journal of Community Health, Public Health Nutrition, Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved and the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

Shaniece Criss

Shaniece Criss (ScD, MPH, MPA) is an associate professor in the Health Sciences Department and director of the Master of Arts in Advocacy and Equity Studies at Furman University in Greenville, SC. As a founding member of the Big Data for Health Equity Research Collaborative, she investigates how societal issues impact health.

Melanie Kim

Melanie Kim serves as an outreach specialist at HomeFirst, a housing nonprofit. She is a recent graduate from Brown University with honors in medical anthropology. As a member of the Big Data for Health Equity Research Collaborative, she investigates the impact of social factors on health inequities.

Nhung Thai

Nhung Thai (BS) graduated from the University of California Berkeley and is currently focused on researching the impact of racial inequities on women and maternal health.

Katrina Makres

Katrina Makres (MPH) is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland School of Public Health. She is a researcher who focuses on health disparities.

Junaid Merchant

Junaid S Merchant is a data analyst in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics department in the School of Public Health at UMD College Park. He has a PhD in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science.

Thu Nguyen

Thu T. Nguyen (ScD MSPH) is an associate professor in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at University of Maryland School of Public Health. She is a social epidemiologist whose research focuses on the impact of social factors on racial and social economic health inequities.


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How to Cite

De La Cruz, M., Criss, S., Kim, M., Thai, N., Makres, K., Merchant, J., & Nguyen, T. (2024). Not a Monolith: Understanding of Racism and Racialization among Korean, Pacific Islander, South Asian, and Vietnamese Women. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 11(2), 58–80.



Original Manuscript
Received 2023-06-25
Accepted 2024-03-14
Published 2024-04-06