About Scot Nakagawa

Scot Nakagawa got his first job as a community organizer in 1980, and since then has worked in organizational management, social research, public policy analysis and advocacy, and philanthropy. He also has a background as a teacher and a service provider working with low-income communities to create accountable organizations that are responsive to community needs. Before forming ChangeLab, Scot served as the Field Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Associate Director of the Western Prison Project (now the Partnership for Safety and Justice), Interim Executive Director of Social Justice Fund Northwest, Executive Director of the McKenzie River Gathering Foundation, and as Education Co-Coordinator of the Highlander Research and Education Center. Scot’s primary work in progressive social change has been as a social movement analyst with a particular emphasis on analyzing and creating strategies to counter rightwing movements. His current blog, Race Files, addresses race and racism in U.S. politics and culture.

No Simple Answers to Achieving Racial Justice But One

Achieving Racial Justice

Scot Nakagawa: The problem is that there is no colorblind meritocracy in the U.S. That’s just a myth of white supremacy. Our problem is racism, not a lack of mettle, gumption, pluck, or educational attainment.

How The Asians Did Not Become White

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Scot Nakagawa: Asians are the least likely among all racial groups to make it to the top in the private sector, including among law firms, again in spite of being better educated.

The Trouble With White People

Trouble With White People

Scot Nakagawa: A growing body of research indicates that an increasing number of whites believe racism continues to plague us, but that whites, not people of color, are the new targets.

Check Your Privilege, Princeton Tory

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Scot Nakagawa: The fact that many struggled to win the privileges we enjoy doesn’t make those privileges just and right. Privileges never are just and right in a truly democratic society.

No Right Turn: Asian Americans and Affirmative Action

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Scot Nakagawa: A growing majority among us would like conservatives to get over their wishful thinking and come to grips with this fact.

Model Minority Suicide: Five Reasons, Five Ways

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Scot Nakagawa: The belief, that the black poor are just entitlement junkies, has negative consequences for all poor people because the tough “love” solutions this belief inspires, like cutting back on food stamps and other programs, see no color.

The Many Lives of the “Culture of Poverty”

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Scot Nakagawa: We criminalize and pathologize black people in order to reassure ourselves that the problem is not systemic; the system is healthy but beset by a disease we would do best to simply cut out.

Anatomy of Stephen Colbert’s Racist Joke

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Scot Nakagawa: Given his obvious good intentions (yes, there should be no place in our culture for a football franchise that uses a racist, anti-Indian epithet as their brand name), I would much rather educate Colbert than cancel him.

Segregation in Education: Reading Between the Lines

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Scot Nakagawa: The composition of our American citizenry will soon be mostly non-white, but white students aren’t, for the most part, being prepared for that future, making what’s happening on the whiter side of the color line in our schools something racial justice advocates should be concerned about.

MSNBC Does Asian Americans No Favors

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Asian American Stereotypes in Media: It’s about time Asian American stories get told, and not just to benefit Asian Americans.

The Origins of the Asian American Model Minority Myth

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Color of Success: Ellen Wu’s The Color of Success just might be the best examination of the roots of the model minority stereotype in print.

In Defense of Affirmative Action

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Defending Affirmative Action: What California learned was that attempts that don’t explicitly give preference to people of color don’t work.

The Rubenfeld-Chua Hoohah

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Scot Nakagawa: The controversy generated by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld’s new book The Triple Package is one of the more annoying non-news events of the year.

What LGBT America Can Learn From Asian American History

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Asian American LGBT Community — I’m unconvinced that assimilation for the whole LGBT community is inevitable or even possible.

I Know Haters Are Gonna Hate Cuz That’s What They Do, But This?

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Scot Nakagawa: Given all that anti-elite resentment and anxiety, it might follow that Pelosi is the safe white proxy for Obama. Safe to hate, I mean.

New Slant on Hate Speech

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Scot Nakagawa: To address a problem of racial bigotry our government seems to think guides us while choosing words to describe racial groups but magically skips over us when we engage in more substantive practices affecting those groups like administering elections, policing our neighborhoods, and setting their wages and working conditions.

Asian Americans Are the Same as Other Americans, But Not in the Way Frank Wu Seems to Think We Are

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Scot Nakagawa: It’s only as we leave Asia that we assume a pan-Asian identity imposed on us by westerners for whom Asia might as well be Grosse Pointe, Michigan for all the diversity it is assumed exists among Asian peoples.

Racism and the Threat to American Civil Liberties

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Scot Nakagawa: It seems unbelievable that a country that tries to present itself as a beacon of liberty and freedom throughout the world could have facilitated this massive violation of our privacy. But for Japanese Americans, this contradiction in terms is nothing new.

Why Are Asians So Racist?

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Scot Nakagawa: Asian immigrants almost never arrive here with an understanding of “Asian” as a race nor of the racial attitudes that prevail in the U.S. They have to be taught.

Some of My Best Friends Are…

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Scot Nakagawa: Even as the racial demographics of the U.S. tilt toward people of color, the minority of white people in this country who don’t have friends of color is still greater than the total number of non-whites in the U.S.

Can We See Through Race?

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Scot Nakagawa: When presented with safe, media representations of white-on-black racism, most non-black folk react by siding with the black guy. But, when the incident is happening right in front of them, they side with the white person because proximity causes a more gut-level response.

Exploiting Asian Girlz

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Scot Nakagawa: The song and accompanying video are intended to “parody” the popular sexual fetish for Asian women. Instead, it has the effect of making a bad joke out of a very problem with extremely serious consequences.

Three Things Asian Americans Owe the Civil Rights Movement

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Scot Nakagawa: We did not just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Instead, we owe a great debt to the Civil Rights Movement. I say the upcoming anniversary of the March is as good a time as any to start talking about it.