Globalization of Racism: Chinese, Japanese, and Korean International Students' Racial Stereotypes and Experiences with Cross-Racial Interactions

Globalization of Racism: Chinese, Japanese, and Korean International Students' Racial Stereotypes and Experiences with Cross-Racial Interactions

Zachary S. Ritter (University of Redlands, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9749-2.ch008
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International higher education literature often extols a great deal of intellectual diversity, cross-cultural learning opportunities, and revenue that international students from China, Japan, and Korea bring to the U.S. every year. However, little attention is paid to the racial stereotypes international students bring to the U.S., how this affects campus climate, and what can be done to encourage cross-cultural understanding. Forty-seven interviews with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean graduate and undergraduate international students were conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, regarding these students' racial stereotypes and how contact with diverse others challenged or reinforced these stereotypes over time. Results indicated that a majority of students had racial hierarchies, which affected with whom they roomed, befriended, and dated. This research shows that there is a need for policy and programmatic changes at the college level that promote international and domestic student interaction.
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The number of international students attending U.S. colleges and universities has more than doubled in the past two decades, from 366,354 in 1988-89 to 886,052 in 2013-14 (Institute of International Education: Open Doors Data, 2014). East Asian students comprise the largest segment of this increase in international students, with Chinese students leading the field. In 2013-2014, Chinese international students numbered 274,439; Indian international students numbered 102,673; South Korean international students numbered 68,047; and Japanese international students numbered 19,334 (Institute of International Education: Open Doors Data, 2014).

The international student enrollment increase on U.S. campuses is explained by the rising economies of China, Korea, and India, which is accompanied with the desire of many middle and upper-class Chinese, Korean, and Indian families to send their children to prestigious American universities, in the hopes of a better life. Another reason for this increase may be explained by active recruitment efforts and growing reputation of U.S. campuses abroad (Institute of International Education, 2011). Of the top 20 universities worldwide that were judged based on 13 performance indicators, 15 of those campuses were found in the U.S. (World University Rankings, 2015). Universities go to great lengths to recruit international students because they bring a level of prestige (Lee, 2010), contribute to campus diversity (Pandit, 2007), encourage domestic students to cultivate cross-cultural competencies (Zhao, 2005), and help advance America’s research competitiveness in the STEM fields (Pandit, 2007). Additionally, international students are a lucrative student sector for U.S. campuses, contributing more than $26.8 billion to the U.S. economy in the 2013-14 academic year (NAFSA, 2014).

While international students bring revenue and diversity to U.S. campuses, they also may bring racial stereotypes and prejudice (Kobayashi, 2010; Peng, 2010). These stereotypes and prejudices may lead to racial hate crimes (Littlely, 2010; Sullivan, 1994), racial misunderstandings (Mashhood, 2011), reduced levels of cultural adjustment (Kashima, 2006; Lee, 2004), and international student balkanization (Villalpando, 2003).

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