reflections on my AAPI heritage – New Dentist Weblog


Photo of Cathy Hung, D.D.S.

Blogger Cathy Hung, D.D.S., is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon training in New Jersey. She is an alumna of the ADA Institute for Range in Management and a wellness ambassador with the ADA Wellness Ambassador Program, which is supported by means of the ADA Dental Staff Wellness Advisory Committee of the ADA Council on Dental Apply. Dr. Hung lately serves because the vp of the Mercer Dental Society and a New Jersey Dental Affiliation trade trustee. She is a speaker, author and existence trainer on variety, fairness and inclusion and feminine management.

When grocery store aisles had been first taped and marked with unidirectional arrows to steer clear of crowd-crossing all the way through the COVID-19 pandemic, I was an aisle with out taking realize. An aged girl bursted in my face: “You went the unsuitable means; I don’t know in case you are ill!” Stuck abruptly, I used to be stunned and indignant after which discovered that my Asian look seemed to cause her verbal assault. The scab of “return for your nation” was once picked open and bled once more.

The other stereotypes of “yellow peril” and “style minority” hooked up to Asian American citizens were pendulating for many years.1 COVID-19 reactivated the concern and aggression towards Asian American citizens, particularly East Asian American citizens, as obvious by means of a upward push of hate crimes around the country up to now few years. Consistent with the Asian American Basis’s Social Monitoring of Asian American citizens within the U.S. Index 2023: Attitudes in opposition to Asian American citizens and Pacific Islanders, 29% of Asians really feel unsafe on public transportation and part of Asians really feel unsafe on account of their race. The reminiscence of International Battle II and the Vietnam Battle contributed to the anti-Asian sentiments up to now; in the meantime, a whopping 73% of American citizens surveyed on this record felt that assaults or incidents towards Asian American citizens between March 2021 and 2022 had been fueled by means of blames of Asian American citizens for the pandemic.2

The catch 22 situation of the underrepresented of the overrepresented

The American Dental Affiliation Well being Coverage Institute surveyed the distribution of the U.S. inhabitants and dentist personnel by means of race within the years 2005-2020. As of 2020, 5.6% of the overall inhabitants is Asian and 18% of the dental personnel is Asian. In different phrases, Asian dentists are “overrepresented” — there are upper percentages of Asian dentists than Asians within the basic inhabitants.3

Are we positive, and what’s the downside? The style minority fable of superachievers and hardworking bees as soon as once more prevails, as does the affirmation bias of “Asians are excellent at math” or “Asians paintings laborious and don’t purpose hassle.” On the other hand, the overrepresented Asian dentists are underrepresented in management seats. The STAATUS Index discovered American citizens are “much less happy with Asian American citizens in positions of energy and management.” That is partially influenced by means of information and media and the jobs ceaselessly portrayed by means of Asian women and men as kung fu combatants and intercourse staff, and in addition due partly to the variety and fragmentation of subgroups of Asian cultures which are in most cases an identical in values and ideology with distinct variations, together with a lot of languages and dialects spoken in a bunch lumped in combination as Asian American citizens and Pacific Islanders.

So far, there is not any formal frame in arranged dentistry for AAPI at the nationwide degree, very similar to the Hispanic Dental Affiliation or Nationwide Dental Affiliation. It’s disheartening to suppose an overrepresented crew within the dental personnel bears no illustration at the nationwide organizational degree. May this be attributed to the underrepresentation of AAPI in management seats or to cultural ideals? In Chinese language, there may be such an expression as “sweeping your individual snow in entrance of your door,” which means, “simply thoughts your individual industry and keep out from people’s industry.” In some way, that is in alignment with the conflict-averse Confucious central philosophy, as politics are ceaselessly considered as acts of stirring the pot. There may be some other Chinese language expression that actually interprets, “finish the industry, quiet the gang,” this means that, “let drowsing canines lie.” Is the loss of a proper AAPI frame of arranged dentistry reflective of cultural stigma? Are AAPI youngsters raised by means of their folks to imagine without equal function of existence is to transform a health care provider running in a well-respected (and possibly profitable) career and care about not anything else?

Chinese language fashion designer Guo Pei, very best referred to as a fashion designer dressing Rihanna, designed a restricted version Lunar 12 months Barbie doll with conventional apparel. Social media’s responses had been blended, from celebrating Asian heritage to court cases about different Asian heritages. What about Korean, Eastern or Vietnamese Barbie? Are we able to eliminate the slanted eyes? What about South Asians no longer being incorporated as Asians? Is Mattel’s try to build up inclusive efforts a hit or somewhat growing extra department some of the already segregated crew referred to as Asians?

As a local Taiwanese, I’m a Pacific Islander, however I’m really not a part of the aboriginal tribes of indigenous peoples of Oceania who are living on a part of the Taiwan island. I’m ethnically Chinese language and studied Chinese language historical past and geography in conventional fonts with out ever surroundings foot on mainland China because of politics. My heritage was once post-colonial Eastern with Fukien dialect-speaking immigrants as ancestors, and I’m the seventeenth technology of my circle of relatives in Taiwan. I’m really not the one Asian with distinctive lineage and heritage. Everybody has a tale. For AAPI to magnify our voices, we want to forgo the perception of staying within the background as a distinctive feature of humility. Step up and discuss out about our considerations, in finding our commonplace floor and unify our voices. In my guide “Pulling Knowledge,”4 I mentioned my emotions of “perpetual outsideness” as an immigrant. Even though I’ve resided within the U.S. for greater than 30 years, endured feedback corresponding to “the place are you from” and “your English is so excellent” reduce my sense of belonging as an American. AAPIs who’re born and raised right here aren’t freed from verbal slights because of stereotypes and marginalization, which erode their long-term sense of wellness and self-identification as American citizens. All the way through this month, I’m urging our colleagues to do so towards development a more potent group for dialog and enhance, as it’s my hope to look a proper frame of arranged dentistry for Asian American citizens and Pacific Islanders within the very close to long run.


1. Li, Y., & Nicholson, H.L., Jr. (2021, November 2020). When “style minorities” transform “yellow peril” — Othering and the racialization of Asian American citizens within the COVID-19 pandemic. Sociology Compass, 15. 10.1111/soc4.12849.

2. The Asian American Basis. (2023). STAATUS Index 2023.

3. Wright, J. T., Vujicic, M., & Frazier-Bowers, S. (2021, April). Editorial: Raising dentistry via variety. JADA, 152(4), 253-255.

4. Hung, C. (2020). Pulling Knowledge: Filling the Gaps of Go-Cultural Verbal exchange for Healthcare Suppliers. Benefit Media Workforce.


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