Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Asian International Student and Asian American Student: Mistaken Identity and Racial Microaggressions

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Asian International Student and Asian American Student: Mistaken Identity and Racial Microaggressions

Article excerpt

Background

Over a million international students from different countries attend U.S. institutions of higher education. High enrollment numbers of international students contribute to diversity, knowledge and skill exchanges, financial revenue, and global competence promotion for American college students (Altbach, 2004;Bevis & Lucas, 2007; Greenblatt, 2005; Hanassab, 2006;NAFSA, 2017). In 2016, international students arrived from over 222 countries, composing 5.3% of all U.S. higher education student populations-with proportions varying by state and district (Institute for International Education [IIE], 2017). Current enrollment growth rates rely on China, India, Saudi Arabia, and Korea (IIE, 2017). International students are often perceived as a monolithic entity in terms of nationality, class, status, and race (Greenblatt, 2005;Kim & Kim, 2010) within U.S. educational settings. Indeed, international students are invisible from multiculturalism and racial/ethnic diversity discourses (DiAngelo, 2006; Sato & Hodge, 2009). Given the current uncertain political and social climates that influence immigrants and international students in the United States, this study promotes meaningful discourse around international students' encounters with racial microaggressions (RMAs) as they pursue higher education in U.S. institutions.

Abdullah, Abd Aziz, and Mohd Ibrahim's (2014) review of research on international students revealed that studies tend to rely heavily on students' mobility, academic and general experiences in university settings, and linguistic and cultural challenges. In addition, discrimination and isolation, as factors of international students' experiences, were just briefly mentioned in related literature on the subject (Abdullah et al., 2014). However, there is very limited research that examines international students' experiences with race and racism in U.S. society, the underlying reasons why they experience discrimination, and how they are racialized in systems of U.S. higher education. Likewise, studies are not largely devoted to understanding how international students experience race and racial bias before and after U.S. arrival, with the exception of Ritter (2016). Existing racial taxonomy, and related complexities regarding the reasons for international students' marginalization on U.S. campuses, remains unquestioned and unexamined.

According to Omi and Winant (2015), "race" in the United States depends on meanings, associations, and social practices that permit phenotypic distinctions among human bodies. Race is a social construct and categorization produced through "the act of noticing" others (Martinot, 2003, p. 75), i.e., racialization on a daily basis. Thus, "racialization" occurs when a previously racially unclassified relationship, social practice, or group receives racial labels and meanings imposed externally (Miles, 1988; Omi & Winant, 1994, 2015). Consequently, international students become "racialized" as they become integrated into U.S. society. In particular, international students of color report a marginalized status and experiences of racial bias and discrimination by the White majority. Such experiences often result in relation to distinct phenotypical characteristics, English accents, nationality, international student status, and religion. Meanwhile, international students from Western and English-speaking countries perceive minimal to no discrimination (Bordoloi, 2014;Bradley, 2000;Constantine, Kindaichi, Okazaki, Gainor, & Baden, 2005; DiAngelo, 2006; Lee & Rice, 2007; Poyrazli, Arbona, Bullington, & Pisecco, 2001; Yeh & Inose, 2003;Wong, Tsai, Liu, Zhu, & Wei, 2014). White international students, for instance, were more likely to be perceived as "natives" (White) in the U.S. context. By comparison, international students of color were regarded by peers as "others" (foreigners; Lee & Rice, 2007; Lewis, 2016).

Employing quantitative analyses, Poyrazli and Lopez's (2007) study found that international students reported higher levels of perceived discrimination and homesickness than U. …

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