Hyphen magazine - Asian American arts, culture, and politics

Uncharted Territory

The view of Asian America from the 2010 Census

Uncharted Territory
Illustrations by Lydia Ortiz & Patrick Rafanan

Check out Hyphen's original infographic spreads here: Population DataLanguages, Education, Internet, Income, Health, Veterans, Voting, Businesses, Poverty, Future.

We are in an age where Facebook could arguably paint a more accurate picture of the American population. But the US census, one of America's oldest mandates, remains a vital benchmark of growth and change.

Results from last year’s census show signs of growth and economic success in the Asian American community, but also highlight huge disparities. As in previous census years, statistics indicate Asian Americans as an economically successful and highly educated population. However, they also illuminate the staggering high school dropout rates among Southeast Asian Americans, the health problems of chronic hepatitis B and cervical cancer in the AAPI population and the fact that someone in this group with a bachelor’s degree is more likely to be unemployed than a White person with comparable education.

These are the facts, but questions remain. How does our high level of access to the Internet affect our education levels? What accounts for mixed-race population growth in specific states? Were increases in population due in part to better outreach to poor communities and people of color, traditionally undercounted by the census?

Statistics may show that Asian Americans are above average in education level and make more than the country’s median household income, but in the ethnic breakdowns, it’s clear that certain Asian subgroups reflect a vastly different reality. The status of Hmong, Cambodian, Laotian and other smaller yet distinct communities go unnoticed in the larger Asian American context, making federal and local resources and services at risk of being directed away from where they are desperately needed. Though the “Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander” population was designated as its own category in the 2000 census, after a decades-long movement for its disaggregation, specific community needs are not met when social services and local agencies continue to lump the populations together with East Asian and Southeast Asian data.

Over the past five months, Hyphen teamed with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to present a series of census stories on our website, each focusing on a different sector of life such as the economy, education or health in relation to the Asian American population. We interviewed true movers and shakers about their opinions on the emerging data and highlighted individuals whose stories mirror the national trends of today. Read our ongoing census coverage here, and check out Hyphen's original infographic spreads about the 2010 Census.


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Nicole wrote 3 years 39 weeks ago

re: Where are the Hispanics?

Thanks Tonypinball! I agree, we should have included the Hispanic/Latino population in this infographic, but it was based on how the Census Bureau and federal government classify race. Identifying if you are "of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin" is a separate question on the census from identifying your race (represented here in the infographic). Being "Hispanic or Latino" or "Not Hispanic or Latino" are the two categories for data on ethnicity. But yes, it would have been good to include the 16% for comparison -- thanks for your feedback!

Links: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg_1997standards/ ; http://2010.census.gov/2010census/text/text-form.php ; https://ask.census.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/216/kw/hispanic/session/L...

Tonypinball wrote 3 years 39 weeks ago

Where are the Hispanics?

Great graphic, one question though.... where are the Hispanics? The 2010 Census does show people of Hispanic descent make up 16% of this nations population, making them the largest minority. A reader who see's this graphic could easily assume White and Black people make up the largest groups....

anyway keep up the great content!

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About The Author

Nicole Wong

Nicole Wong is a senior editor for Hyphen living in San Francisco. By day, she's a media engagement strategist at Active Voice, tackling social issues through the creative use of film.

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