The US Marines are looking for a few more good men and women. And in particular, a few good Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The Corps launched a new ad campaign this week called "A Warrior's Education," featuring Asian-American officers speaking about the importance of values like discipline and respect. The ads were created to align with Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, May 8 to June 7.
"It makes sense that the Marines are attempting to recruit Asian Americans, because we have to remember that the military is a business, and this is a market that's not been completely tapped," said Tracy Lachica Buenavista, who teaches Asian American Studies at Cal State Northridge. "Further, there's still a very strong military presence in Asian and Pacific Islander nation states, so it's really strategic to hire APIs that can provide linguistic and cultural translation for military operations and projects."
In this clip from one of the videos, First Lieutenant David Pham talks about how important respect was in his upbringing:
In another video, Pham speaks about the importance of discipline:
"These ads are really grounded in the stereotype of Asian-Pacific Islanders in the US as these model minorities that have hyper-disciplinary practices within their families," said Buenavista. "Not only does it essentialize API individuals, but it really obscures our diversity, and it also inadvertently assumes that other people of color don't possess these same characteristics."
Enlistment of Asian Americans has risen dramatically in recent years. In 2009, Los Angeles alone saw an 80 percent increase in Asian American recruits, but overall Asian Americans account for just 2.41 percent of the Marine Corps, and Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, .65 percent. Whites make up 68.86 percent, followed by Latinos at 13.46 percent and African Americans at 10.13 percent.
"The uptick has really been a result of these racialized recruitment strategies, where they're coming up with programs that make it more desireable for certain communities to enlist," said Buenavista. "I think the thing all branches of the military should do in terms of the recruitment strategies is really be honest in regards to what service actually looks like, what it looks like after war, where the implications during war."