I’m on the phone with an associate history professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, named Ellen Wu. We’re talking about skin color, identity and how people like us — Americans of East Asian descent — can describe ourselves.

Wu and I agree that there are many words we could use: Asian American, East Asian, East Asian American. People with roots from South Asia or Southeast Asia sometimes refer to themselves as brown, which seems like a useful shorthand. But for a bunch of reasons, brown doesn’t work for East Asians. I’m wondering if there’s a parallel word for us.

I pose this question, a little hesitantly: What about yellow?

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In August 2018 officials from Tokyo Medical University admitted to systematically altering medical school admission test scores to disadvantage female applicants. Since 2006 the university had been subtracting points from all exam scores, then adding up to 20 points to those of male applicants, with the explicit goal of reducing the percentage of women entering medical school. (The percentage of enrollees who were women had reached 40% in 2010, and now stands at approximately 30%.)

This systematic discrimination against female medical school applicants is not only sexist and scandalous in its own right — not to mention devastating for the women denied access to the profession they desired — but it constitutes a potential threat to patient safety and public health.

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UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA’S CENTER ON RACE AND EQUITY

The issue is nothing new for universities: the need to diversify the student body (and their faculty).

Now every public university in the country can see how well it is serving black students — at least by a few metrics — with a new report card from the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center.

And universities need improvement, according to Shaun Harper, the center’s executive director and a prominent race-relations consultant for campuses.

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In a recent viral video, an unidentified white woman in line at a grocery store in Oregon, dressed in a floral romper and black knee-high boots, overheard a black woman’s phone conversation. She believed this black woman was trying to sell food stamps illegally. The exchange became heated, and the white woman was told, in no uncertain terms, to mind her business. “Oh, it is my business,” the white woman responded. “Because I pay my taxes.” She then said something that, quite frankly, stunned me: “We’re going to build this wall.”

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When colleges talk about enrolling more Hispanic students, they tend to think of a “traditional” age group. That’s understandable. After all, in the United States, the median age of Hispanics is 27; for whites, it’s 43.

But what’s understandable isn’t the same as what’s desirable.

And that’s one reason Deborah A. Santiago, who heads up Excelencia in Education, an organization seeking to improve educational outcomes for Latino students, has been working for the past few years to improve colleges’ outreach and service to Hispanic adults.

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In a sign of the times, new USC research shows that some kids stressed out over recent public acts of discrimination show increased behavioral problems.

The study focused on Los Angeles-area teens from communities of color or families with limited education. Many of the youths reported concern that discrimination is a growing societal problem. The more worried the teens were, the worse their substance use, depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms became, the study shows.

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While LGBTQ college students are becoming more visible on campus, they are still marginalized. After all, queer students of color are more likely to feel uncomfortable on campus and encounter higher rates of harassment than their White queer peers. Recognizing that this goes beyond just individual-level actions and behaviors, more attention must be paid to the policies that create these educational environments. Ultimately, to truly be equitable for all groups of students, higher education policy must be intersectional and mindful of students with multiple marginalized identities (e.g., sexuality and race/ethnicity). We must challenge existing approaches to policy that reinforce heterosexism and simultaneously privilege White students.

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