Report shatters ‘model minority’ myth
SAN DIEGO — A report that examines the Asian-American population in San Diego County shatters perceptions that all members of the ethnic group are successful in school and society.
“Often times, people think Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are successful economically and socially, but when you look at the data through ethnic groups, you see that is not the case,” said Kristin Sakaguchi, a research analyst at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Los Angeles.
“Many are struggling and among the poorest and have the lowest educational attainment,” she said.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Los Angeles has used data from the 2010 Census to do similar reports about Los Angeles and Orange counties. Sakaguchi was the primary researcher on the San Diego report released Thursday, which can be found here.
The data shows that the Asian-American population in San Diego County was 410,000 in 2010, representing a 38 percent increase in 10 years, making it the the fastest growing population in the county.
The Census also found the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population had grown 25 percent over the decade to reach 31,000. In contrast, the county’s total population grew 10 percent, and the white population decreased 3 percent.
Sakaguchi said Asian Americans have been the fastest growing population nationwide for about 20 years. Looking beyond the growth, the data give insight to the state of many of the ethnic groups that make up the Asian community.
“This report is significant in that we have numbers and percentages and able to identify what groups are suffering, whether in education or health or economic development,” said Margaret Iwanaga-Penrose, president and CEO of the Union of Pan Asian Communities in San Diego.
Businesses owned by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have created more than 50,000 jobs in the county. But the report found that between 2007 and 2013, the growth in the number of unemployed Asian Americans was 95 percent and for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders it was 103%. The growth in the number of unemployed whites during that period was 84 percent, and for the total population it was 89 percent.
The number of Asian Americans and the number of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander living below the poverty line increased 56 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
“Our diverse communities are growing at top rates and making real contributions to San Diego, but many also need help,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Advancing Justice, Los Angeles.
While it is true that an equal percent of Asian Americans and white freshmen were applied were admitted to UC San Diego — 41 percent of both groups, according to 2013 numbers — a closer look at the diverse ethnic groups within the Asian-American population shows a disparity.
Only 13 percent of Hmong students who applied were admitted to UCSD, for instance, while 27 percent of Cambodians, 29 percent of Samoans and 30 percent of Laotians were accepted.
Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese American also are among those least likely to have a high school diploma.
Sakaguchi and Iwanaga-Penrose said the report helps contract the “model minority” myth many people have of Asian Americans. They also said the report can be used by policy makers and advocacy groups to identity areas of need in the community.
The report also found the Guamanian or Chamorror population in San Diego is the largest in the United States. The Filipino population is the largest Asian population in the county and the third largest in the nation.
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A Community of Contrasts:
Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and
Pacific Islanders in San Diego County Report
SAN DIEGO – The Asian American population in San Diego County is the fastest growing racial group according to a new report released today by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and the Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC). The report, “A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in San Diego County,” also notes that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are experiencing dramatic growth in the number who are unemployed and poor.
According to the 2010 Census, San Diego County is home to 410,000 Asian Americans and 31,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). One out of every seven residents countywide is Asian American or NHPI. Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian American population in San Diego County grew 38%, faster than any other racial group. The NHPI population grew 25% over the decade. In contrast, the county’s total population grew only 10% and the White population decreased 3% over the same period.
Record numbers of Asian Americans and NHPI in San Diego County are registering to vote and casting ballots. Nearly 90,000 Asian Americans were registered to vote countywide as of the 2012 General Election. While Asian Americans made up 6% of the county’s voters during that election, of those old enough to vote, they make up over half the margin of victory in several legislative districts, including State Assembly Districts 77 and 79, State Senate District 39, and Congressional District 52.
While Asian American– and Pacific Islander–owned businesses are making real contributions and have created over 50,000 jobs in San Diego County, growing numbers of Asian Americans and NHPI struggle to make ends meet. From 2007 to 2013, the number of unemployed Asian Americans grew 95% and the number of unemployed NHPI increased 103%. During the same period, the number of Asian Americans and NHPI living below the poverty line increased 56% and 23%, respectively.
“Our diverse communities are growing at top rates and making real contributions to San Diego, but many also need help,” said Stewart Kwoh, President and Executive Director of Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “This growth deepens the urgency of our public policy concerns.”
The report finds that the success of some Asian Americans and NHPI in the education arena overshadows significant challenges faced by others. Data from the California Department of Education show that NHPI students are both less likely to graduate from high school and to have completed the required courses for college admission. Among adults, Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans are among those least likely to have a high school degree. Samoan and Laotian American adults are less likely than all racial groups countywide to have a college degree.
Asian Americans and NHPI are disproportionately impacted by disease, but many lack access to care and health insurance. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Asian Americans (there is a higher proportion of Asian American deaths due to cancer, compared to other racial groups). Heart disease is the leading cause of death among NHPI. NHPI have an age-adjusted death rate higher than all racial groups countywide. Approximately 50,000 Asian Americans and 4,300 NHPI in San Diego County are uninsured.
“Data in this report show tremendous social and economic diversity in San Diego’s Asian American and NHPI community,” said Kristin Sakaguchi, a research analyst at Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and the primary author of the report. “In contrast to the model minority stereotype, some have achieved success, while others are facing considerable challenges.”
The Community of Contrasts Report: Community of Contrasts Report 6-1-15