Jennifer Lee begins Items’ set of reflections on A Portrait of LA County—a new report from the SSRC’s Measure of America program—by building on its data for educational outcomes by ethnicity. In particular, she complicates the myth surrounding the educational success of Asian Americans, and the frequent reference to culture as its principal cause, by disaggregating the category of “Asian.” By exploring class and geographic differences in outcomes, Lee uncovers key socioeconomic dimensions to variations within the “Asian” category as well as between it and other ethnicities in Los Angeles.
Jennifer Lee is a professor of sociology at Columbia University and has published award-winning books and articles about immigration, the new second generation, education, intermarriage, multiracial identification, and race relations. Her most recent book, The Asian American Achievement Paradox (with Min Zhou; Russell Sage Foundation, 2015) garnered four national book awards, including three from the American Sociological Association: the Pierre Bourdieu Award, the Thomas and Znaniecki Distinguished Book Award, and the Best Book on Asian America. She has received distinguished fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, the Russell Sage Foundation, and Fulbright, and has been elected to the Sociological Research Association. She is one of four principal investigators of the 2016 National Asian American Survey, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. Strongly committed to public engagement, Jennifer Lee has written for a variety of media outlets, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, TIME, and Los Angeles Magazine, and has made radio and television appearances on NPR, The Tavis Smiley Show, and Fusion TV. Follow her on Twitter @JLeeSoc.