philanthropic divides among Chinese Americans

May 9, 2007

From The New York Times, January 20th, 2007 — Class Divide in Chinese-Americans’ Charity ::

These days, in an era of shrunken public dollars and booming philanthropy, as universities and museums showcase multimillion-dollar gifts by Chinese-Americans, Ms. Kee worries about a different kind of disconnect: a divide between the explosive growth of Chinese-American wealth and the unmet needs of a new generation of Chinese immigrants who have streamed to the city since the 1990s.

… “We’re out of their orbit,” Ms. Kee observed wistfully. “We get donations from poor people that we’ve helped. We don’t get donations from the rich, who should be helping the poor.”

… “When you say, ‘Donate money to help the Chinese,’ ” Mr. Tang explained, “they’re conflicted that their monies will not be helping people of their own. Like, some people will say, ‘I grew up in Taiwan, and you’re asking me to help these people from Fujian’ ” — the coastal province that has generated the latest wave of immigrants, both legal and illegal.

“Others will say, ‘I’m a Hong Kong person, and your mission here is to serve people from everywhere else.’ Or you may get an A.B.C. — American-born Chinese — saying, ‘Well, I really want to help the people in downtown San Francisco.’ ”

… “When you represent all Asian ethnic groups, you don’t represent any Asian ethnic groups,” said Wayne Ho, director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. “It’s really hard to get individual donations.”

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