Taiwanese Census Campaign Challenges the Pew Research Center: Our Interview with Christina Hu and Chieh-Ting Yeh

In April of this year, reports published by the Pew Research Center analyzing Asian American communities included footnotes stating that data for “ ‘Chinese’ includes those identifying as ‘Taiwanese.’ ” Soon after, in May, the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign published an open letter and petition on TaiwaneseAmerican.org asking Pew Research to issue an apology to the Taiwanese American community, and to re-publish its findings with Taiwanese as a separate category.

Upon hearing this, I reached out to Christina Hu, Director of the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign asking to interview her about this. She was working on getting an apology and correction from Pew, so I agreed to wait until she got an official response from Pew to do the interview.

For months, the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign team worked on getting a response from Pew Research and by July Christina told me that she was hoping to get an official response.

On Wednesday, September 8, 2021 Pew Research reissued their report on Asian American communities which had previously misrepresented the Taiwanese. To be clear it was a correction, not an apology. Data for 2000, 2010 and 2019 included the categories of “Chinese, with Taiwanese,” “Taiwanese,” “Chinese, except Taiwanese” and “Okinawan.”

I spoke with Christina Hu, the Director of the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign and Chieh-ting Yeh, the Media Director of the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign about what transpired after the Taiwanese American community’s response to Pew Research’s initial report on Asian communities, and what led to Pew to re-issue their report.

We also spoke about the 2020 Write in Taiwanese Campaign and the decades long advocacy work of the Taiwanese American Citizens League (TACL), that started in 1990 to educate the Taiwanese American community to complete the US Census by not only checking the “Other Asian” box, but also writing in “Taiwanese.”

The Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign team:

Christina Hu

Director, Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign

Director of Civic Engagement, Taiwanese American Citizens League

Chieh-Ting Yeh

Media Director, Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign

Editor-in-Chief, Ketagalan Media

Leona Chen

Creative Director, Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign

Editor-in-Chief, TaiwaneseAmerican.org

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

· How Christina got involved in the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign

· How Ting (Chieh-ting) got involved in the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign

· The background and history of the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign

· The evolution of the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign since it started in1990

· Why it’s important to be counted on the U.S. census

· It wasn’t until 1960 that people could select their own race on the U.S. census

· Why it is important for Taiwanese Americans to be counted on the U.S. census

· How the Pew Research Reports which used U.S. census data misrepresented the Taiwanese

· The Pew Research Report on Asian American communities that included a footnote stating that data for “ ‘Chinese’ includes those identifying as ‘Taiwanese.’ ”

· The communications that the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign and Christina had with Pew Research and Neil Ruiz, the Associate Director of Race and Ethnicity

· The open letter and online petition (posted on TaiwaneseAmerican.org) asking Pew Research to issue an apology to the Taiwanese American community, and to re-publish its findings with Taiwanese as a separate category

· The various groups that signed the online petition and supported the Taiwanese American community’s campaign to ask Pew Research for an apology and correction of their reports that did not include Taiwanese as a separate category

· How Christina discovered that the Pew Research report had disappeared Okinawans as a separate category

· What happened in the four months that the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign tried to get an official response from Pew Research

· The conversations that Christina had with Neil Ruiz about why it was important for her personally, to identify as Taiwanese, and why Pew could say they were confused by self-reported data from the Taiwanese American community that unequivocally indicated that people wanted to be identified as Taiwanese

· The slogan of the Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign

Related Links:

Key facts about Asian origin groups in the U.S. (from Pew Research): https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/04/29/key-facts-about-asian-origin-groups-in-the-u-s/

Response to Pew Research Reports Hiding Taiwanese Identity: “We made it count. Now tell our stories.” (The open letter and online petition that appeared on TaiwaneseAmerican.org): https://www.taiwaneseamerican.org/2021/05/pew-research-center-taiwanese-american-statement/

Some of the responses on Twitter to Pew Research Reports Hiding Taiwanese Identity: https://twitter.com/search?q=taiwanese%20census%202020%20pew&src=typed_query&f=top

Pew Research reissues report on Asian Americans after misrepresenting Taiwanese Americans: https://www.taiwaneseamerican.org/2021/09/pew-research-reissues-report-on-asian-americans-after-misrepresenting-taiwanese-americans/

Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/write.in.taiwanese.census

Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/write.in.taiwanese.census/

Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign videos on TACL’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/tacitizensleague/videos

Taiwanese American Citizens League (TACL): https://tacl.org/

TACL Census 2020 “Write in Taiwanese” Campaign: https://tacl.org/census-2020/

How many Taiwanese live in the U.S.? It’s not an easy question to answer: https://medium.com/pew-research-center-decoded/how-many-taiwanese-live-in-the-u-s-its-not-an-easy-question-to-answer-315c042839dc

Write in “Taiwanese” — US Census 2010 You Tube video: https://youtu.be/mcFLfw73O30

The changing categories the U.S. census has used to measure race (from the Pew Research Center): https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/02/25/the-changing-categories-the-u-s-has-used-to-measure-race/

Christina Hu’s You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdfvPGT3zqZPP3rfAFAGLdw

Ketagalan Media: https://ketagalanmedia.com/

Taking Taiwan interview with Ho Chie Tsai the Founder of TaiwaneseAmerican.org: https://talkingtaiwan.com/tt025-ho-chie-tsai/

Listen to Episode 148: Taiwanese Census Campaign Challenges the Pew Research Center: Our Interview with Christina Hu and Chieh-Ting Yeh HERE

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Felicia Lin

Felicia Lin is a Taiwanese American writer and social media enthusiast. To learn more about her visit: www.felicialin.com.