asian nation

Asian American

[ey-zhuhn-uh-mer-i-kuhn, ey-shuhn-]

Asian Americans are Americans of Asian ancestry. They include sub-ethnic groups such as Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, Indian Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Korean Americans, Japanese Americans and others whose national origin is from the Asian continent. In Oxford dictionary, "Asian person" in the United States is sometimes thought of as a person of East Asian descent. In the US Census people who originate from the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent are classified as part of the Asian race.

The term Asian American was used informally by activists in the 1960s who sought an alternative to the term Oriental, arguing that the latter was derogatory and colonialist. Formal usage was introduced by academics in the early 1970s, notably by historian Yuji Ichioka, who is credited with popularizing the term. Today, Asian American is the accepted term for most formal purposes, such as government and academic research, although it is often shortened to Asian in common usage. As with other racial and ethnicity based terms, formal and common usage have changed markedly through the short history of this term. The most significant change occurred when the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 eliminated highly restrictive "national origins" quotas, designed, among other things, to restrict immigration of those of Asian racial background. The new system, based on skills and family connections to U.S. residents, enabled significant immigration from every nation in Asia, which led to dramatic and ongoing changes in the Asian American population. As a result of these population changes, the formal and common understandings of what defines Asian American have expanded to include more of the peoples with ancestry from various parts of Asia. Because of their more recent immigration, new Asian immigrants also have had different educational, economic and other characteristics than early 20th century immigrants. They also tend to have different employment and settlement patterns in the United States.


Early History

In 1763, Filipinos established the small settlement of Saint Malo in the bayous of current-day Louisiana, after fleeing mistreatment aboard Spanish ships. Since there were no Filipino women with them, the Manilamen, as they were known, married Cajun and Native American women.

Chinese sailors first came to Hawaii in 1778, the same year that Captain James Cook came upon the island. Many settled and married Hawaiian women. Some Island-born Chinese can claim to be 7th generation. Most Chinese, Korean and Japanese immigrants in Hawaii arrived in the 19th century as laborers to work on sugar plantations. Later, Filipinos also came to work as laborers, attracted by the job opportunities, although they were limited.

Numerous Chinese and Japanese began immigrating to the U.S. in the mid-19th century for work, because of poor economic conditions in their home nations. Many of the immigrants worked as laborers on the transcontinental railroad. Although the absolute numbers of Asian immigrants in the late 19th century were small compared to that from other regions, much of it was concentrated in the West, and the increase caused some Americans to fear the change represented by the growing number of Asians. This fear was referred to as the "yellow peril." The United States passed laws such as Asian Exclusion Act and Chinese Exclusion Act to sharply restrict Asian immigration.

Effects of World War II

During World War II, the United States government declared Japanese Americans a risk to national security and undertook the Japanese American Internment, authorized by President Franklin Roosevelt with United States Executive Order 9066. This controversial action forced the relocation of approximately 112,000 to 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans, taking them from the west coast of the United States to hastily constructed War Relocation Centers in remote portions of the nation's interior. This shameful chapter in US history was a result of war hysteria, racial discrimination, and economic competition. Sixty-two percent of those forced to relocate were United States citizens. Starting in 1990, the government paid some reparations to the surviving internees in recognition of the harm it had caused them and their families.

Despite the internment, many Japanese American men served in World War II in the American forces. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry Battalion, composed of Japanese Americans, is the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history. The 442nd/100th fought valiantly in the European Theater even as many of their families remained in the detention camps stateside. The 100th was one of the first units to liberate the Nazi extermination camp at Dachau.


The most commonly used definition of Asian American is the US Census Bureau definition of Asian, chiefly because the Census definitions determine many government classifications, notably for equal opportunity programs and measurements. People with origins in the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent are included in the Census definition of Asia. The use of a separate "Asian" category in the Census is a recent addition, beginning in 1990. Since then, the Census definitions have varied. The 2000 census divided the Asian/Pacific Islander group and created Pacific Islander ethnicities as a separate category.

Before 1980, Census forms listed particular Asian ancestries as separate groups, along with White and Black or Negro. Asian Americans had also been classified as "other". The 1980 census marked the first classification of Asians as a large group, combining several individual ancestry groups into "Asian or Pacific Islander." By the 1990 census, Asian or Pacific Islander (API) was included as an explicit category, although respondents had to select one particular ancestry. In the 2000 census, people reporting Middle Eastern ancestry but not reporting race are presumed to be in the white race category rather than Asian.

Finally, the definition of Asian American has variations that derive from the use of the word American in different contexts. Immigration status, citizenship, acculturation, and language ability are some variables that are used to define American for various purposes and may vary in formal and everyday usage. For example, restricting American to include only U.S. citizens conflicts with discussions of Asian American businesses, which generally refer both to citizen and non-citizen owners.

In a recent PBS interview, a panel of Asian American writers discussed how some groups include people from the Middle East in the Asian American category. Asian American author Stewart Ikeda has noted, "The definition of “Asian American” also frequently depends on who’s asking, who’s defining, in what context, and why... the possible definitions of "Asian-Pacific American" are many, complex, and shifting... some scholars in Asian American Studies conferences suggest that Russians, Iranians, and Israelis all might fit the field’s subject of study.


Metropolitan Areas with the Highest Population of Asian Americans (2000 Census)
Metropolitan Area Metropolitan population % of Asian Americans
Honolulu, Hawaii MSA (Honolulu County) 876,156 46.0
San Francisco Bay Area 7,039,362 18.4
Greater Los Angeles Area 16,373,645 10.4
Sacramento Metropolitan Area 1,796,857 9.0
San Diego, California MSA (San Diego County) 2,813,833 8.9
Seattle Metropolitan Area 3,554,760 7.9
New York Metropolitan Area 21,199,865 6.8
Las Vegas Metropolitan Area 1,863,282 6.7
Baltimore-Washington (AA demographics) 7,608,070 5.3
Greater Houston 5,543,936 5.2
Chicago Metropolitan Area 9,098,316 4.3
Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex 5,487,956 3.6
The demographics of Asian Americans describe a heterogeneous group of people in the United States who can trace their ancestry to one or more countries in Asia. Because Asian Americans total less than 5% of the entire U.S. population, the diversity of the group is often disregarded in media and news discussions of "Asians" or of "Asian Americans." While there are some commonalities across ethnic sub-groups, there are significant differences among different Asian ethnicities that are related to each group's history.

The 2006 U.S. census recorded 14.6 million people who reported themselves as having either full or partial Asian heritage, 4.9% of the U.S. population. The largest ethnic subgroups are Chinese (3.6 million), Filipinos (2.9 million), Asian Indians (2.7 million), Vietnamese (1.6 million), Koreans (1.5 million) , and Japanese (1.2 million). Other sizable groups are Cambodians/Khmers (206,000), Pakistanis (204,000), Laotians (198,000), Hmong (186,000), and Thais (150,000).

The Asian American population is heavily urbanized, with nearly three-quarters of Asian Americans living in metropolitan areas with population greater than 2.5 million. Asian Americans are concentrated in the largest U.S. cities, with 40% of all Asian Americans living in the metropolitan areas around Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. Half of all Asian Americans (5.4M) live in Hawaii or the West Coast, mostly in California (4.2M). Census data shows that Asian American populations are developing in major metropolitan areas away from the West Coast, with visible communities in areas such as Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area and Greater Houston, to name the largest examples.

In regions with large numbers of Asian Americans, suburban communities have developed that are heavily or predominantly Asian. The schools in these areas may offer languages such as Mandarin as a second language. Since the 1970s, in addition to Chinatowns, "Little Manila", "Koreatowns" and "Little Saigons" have appeared in several cities. Large Japantowns once existed up and down the West Coast because of extensive Japanese immigration. The ones that remain are vestiges of once vibrant pre-World War II communities whose members, like other Americans, moved out into the suburbs and larger communities.

Asian Americans are visible and growing. They are "underrepresented" (against the national aggregate) in several of the largest areas, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and Dallas-Fort Worth, although sizable concentrations (double the national percentage) can be found in some urban neighborhoods, such as Albany Park in Chicago and Olney in Philadelphia. Additionally, similar Asian populations are found in suburbs of these cities such as Naperville and Evanston near Chicago; Millbourne, King of Prussia, and Cherry Hill near Philadelphia; Lowell and Lexington near Boston and Las Vegas. This pattern reflects their later arrival and response to changing economic conditions in some cities.

According to the 2005 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement, Asian American households had the highest median income at $57,518. However 11.8 percent of Asians were in poverty in 2003, higher than the 8.2 percent rate for non-Hispanic whites, and much higher for some southeast Asian ethnic groups. Much of this poverty is concentrated in ethnic enclaves such as Chinatowns in the cities Census figures also show that a white male with a college diploma earns in excess of $66,000 a year, far more than similarly educated Asian men who earned more than $52,000 a year.

Immigration trends

Immigration trends of recent decades have dramatically altered the statistical composition and popular understanding of who is an Asian American. This transformation of Asian America, and of America itself, is the result of legislation such as the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 and the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965. The McCarran-Walter Act repealed the remnants of "free white persons" restriction of the Naturalization Act of 1790, but it retained the quota system that effectively banned nearly all immigration from Asia (for example, its annual quota of Chinese was only fifty). Asian immigration increased significantly after the 1965 Immigration Act altered the quota system. The preference for relatives, initially designed to reduce the number of Asian immigrants, eventually acted to accelerate their numbers.

Historically, before 1965, Asian Americans were chiefly perceived as members of the two most numerous Asian ethnic groups, specifically Chinese and Japanese. Filipinos were increasingly numerous in the US, having become colonial subjects in 1898 due to the Spanish-American War (also see Philippine-American War).

After the enactment of the 1965 Immigration Act, Asian American demographics changed rapidly. This act replaced exclusionary immigration rules of the Chinese Exclusion Act and its successors, such as the 1924 Immigration Act, which effectively excluded "undesirable" immigrants, including Asians. The 1965 rules set across-the-board immigration quotas for each country. It opened US borders to immigration from Asia for the first time in nearly half a century.

Immigration of Asian Americans were also affected by U.S. war involvement from the 1940s to the 1970s. In the wake of World War II, immigration preferences favored family reunification. This may have helped attract highly skilled workers to meet American workforce deficiencies. Another instance related to World War II was the Luce-Celler Act of 1946, which helped immigrants from India and the Philippines.

The end of the Korean War and Vietnam War and the so-called "Secret Wars" in Southeast Asia brought a new wave of Asian American immigration, as people from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia arrived. Some of the new immigrants were war brides, who were soon joined by their families. Others, like the Southeast Asians, were either highly skilled and educated, or part of subsequent waves of refugees seeking asylum. Some factors contributing to the growth of sub-groups such as South Asians and mainland Chinese were higher family sizes, higher use of family-reunification visas, and higher numbers of technically skilled workers entering on H-1 and H-1b visas.

The contrasts between Japanese Americans and South Asian Americans are emblematic of the dramatic changes since the immigration reforms of the mid-20th century. Japanese Americans are among the most widely recognized of Asian American sub-groups. In 1970, there were nearly 600,000 Japanese Americans, making it the largest sub-group, but historically the greatest period of immigration was generations past. Today, given relatively low rates of births and immigration, Japanese Americans are only the sixth-largest Asian American group. In 2000, there were between 800,000 and 1.2 million Japanese Americans (depending on whether multi-ethnic responses are included). The Japanese Americans have the highest rates of native-born, citizenship, and assimilation into American values and customs.

In 1990, there were slightly fewer South Asians in the U.S. than Japanese Americans. By 2000, Indian Americans nearly doubled in population to become the third largest group of Asian Americans, with increasing visibility in high-tech communities such as the Silicon Valley and the Seattle area. Indian Americans have some of the highest rates of academic achievement among American ethnic groups. Most immigrants speak English and are highly educated. South Asians are increasingly accepted by most Asian organizations as another significant Asian group. Currently, Indians, Chinese, and Filipinos are the largest Asian ethnic groups immigrating to the United States.

Some assert that high rates of immigration from some parts of Asia -especially those countries with poor economic bases- will make Asian Americans increasingly representative of some portion of the continent itself.

Notable contributions


With a majority Asian-Pacific American population for most of its history, Hawaii has a long history of Asian political participation at all levels of government, and its Congressional delegation has been held by Asian Americans for most of its history. However, the first Asian American elected to the United States House of Representatives was Dalip Singh Saund, an Indian American from Imperial County, California. Saund served as chair of the local Democratic party and Justice of the Peace before winning the House election in 1956. Similarly, Bobby Jindal served in various executive positions in Louisiana and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services before being elected to the Congress in 2004, and finally winning the Louisiana gubernatorial elections in 2007 (thereby becoming the first non-white governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction), the first elected Indian American governor in U.S. history, as well as the second Asian American governor to serve in the continental United States after Gary Locke of Washington. In 1976, the academic S.I. Hayakawa was elected to the Senate from California. Mainland U.S. politicians such as Mike Honda began their political careers in local offices and developed organizations that eventually supported their election to Congress, while Norman Mineta went on to become Secretary of Transportation between 2001 and 2006. Elaine Chao was selected as a White House Fellow, and then served in a series of appointed posts prior to becoming the Secretary of Labor. In 1996 Gary Locke was elected governor of the state of Washington, becoming the first Chinese American to be elected governor in the United States. Rachel Paulose was a counselor in the Office of Legal Policy of the United States Department of Justice. She is the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota. She was the first Indian American woman, the youngest attorney, and the first woman in Minnesota to hold this post. Robert C. Scott, the congressman from Virginia's 3rd District, has Filipino ancestry.


A number of Asian Americans have served in high positions in the United States military such as Eric Shinseki.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry Battalion, composed of Japanese Americans, is the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history.


When Asians were largely excluded from labor markets in the 19th century, they started their own businesses. Some started laundries, which are now rare. Others started Chinese restaurants, which still can be found across the USA. Since the mid-20th century, Asians have expanded their involvement across the American economy.

Compared to their population base, Asian Americans today are well represented in the professional sector and tend to earn higher wages, especially in technology and business. However, much has been written about the glass ceiling in regards to Asians, for they have been far less represented in higher levels of management compared with other ethnic groups.

Some Asian Americans have made major contributions to the American economy. An Wang founded Wang Laboratories in June 1951. Amar Bose founded the Bose Corporation in 1964. Jen-Hsun Huang co-founded the NVIDIA corporation in 1993. Jerry Yang co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in 1994. Andrea Jung serves as Chairman and CEO of Avon Products. Vinod Khosla was a founding CEO of Sun Microsystems and is a general partner of the prominent venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Sabeer Bhatia co-founded Hotmail, which was acquired by Microsoft. Steve Chen and Jawed Karim were co-creators of YouTube, and were beneficiaries of Google's $1.65 billion acquisition of that company in 2006. Asian Americans made considerable contributions in technology such as software and semiconductors in the United States, particularly in the West Coast like Silicon Valley, San Francisco, etc. where most of the IT companies are based.


Wataru Misaka broke the NBA color barrier when he played for the New York Knicks in the 1947–48 season.

Asian Americans first made an impact in Olympic sports in the late 1940s and in the 1950s. Sammy Lee became the first Asian American to earn an Olympic Gold Medal, winning in platform diving in both 1948 and 1952. Amy Chow was a member of the gold medal women's gymnastics team at the 1996 Olympics; she also won an individual silver medal on the uneven bars. Gymnast Mohini Bhardwaj won a team silver medal in the 2004 Olympics. Hapa Bryan Clay won the decathlon gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, the silver medal in the 2004 Olympics, and was the sport's 2005 world champion.

Since Tiffany Chin won the women's US Figure Skating Championship in 1985, Asian Americans have been prominent in that sport. Kristi Yamaguchi won three national championships, two world titles, and the 1992 Olympic Gold medal. Michelle Kwan has won nine national championships and five world titles, as well as two Olympic medals (silver in 1998, bronze in 2002).

In football, Asian Americans' contributions are also gaining notice. Norm Chow is currently the offensive coordinator for UCLA after a short stint with the Tennessee Titans of the NFL, after 23 years of coaching other college teams, including four successful years as offensive coordinator at USC. Dat Nguyen was an NFL middle linebacker who was an all-pro selection in 2003. In 1998, he was named an All-American and won the Bednarik Award as well as the Lombardi Award, while playing for Texas A&M. Hines Ward is an NFL wide receiver who was the MVP of Super Bowl XL.

Michael Chang was a top-ranked tennis player for most of his career. He won the French Open in 1989. Erik Spoelstra is a Filipino-Dutch-Irish who became the youngest coach ever in NBA history. He is currently the head coach of Miami Heat.

Arts and entertainment

Asian Americans have been involved in the entertainment industry since the first half of the 19th century, when Chang and Eng Bunker (the original "Siamese Twins") became naturalized citizens. Acting roles in television, cinema, and theater have been relatively few, and many available roles are for narrow, stereotypical characters. Early Asian American actors such as Sessue Hayakawa, Anna May Wong, and Bruce Lee encountered a movie-making culture that wanted to typecast them. Lee abandoned Hollywood and achieved world-wide fame in Hong Kong. In 1965, a group of actors formed East West Players (EWP), to provide Asian American actors greater opportunity to perform in leading roles. Several other Asian American theater companies were formed in other cities, providing similar outlets there.

Margaret Cho won the American Comedy Award for Best Female Comedian in 1994. Wah Chang was the designer for many of the props on the Star Trek series as well as The Time Machine, which received an Academy Award for special effects. Many Asian Americans have also penetrated in the fashion world with Monique Lhuillier's dresses parading on the Hollywood red carpet and Chloe Dao winning Project Runway. Vera Wang and Anna Sui have been highly accomplished and rewarded fashion designers for years. Other designers include Phillip Lim, 2006 CFDA Emerging Talent Award Winner Doo-Ri Chung, and 2005 Winner Derek Lam.

In literature, Asian American writers have received numerous awards. Maxine Hong Kingston won the National Book Critics Circle award in 1976 for her memoir Woman Warrior. Bharati Mukherjee won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1988 for her short story collection The Middleman and Other Stories. Chang-Rae-Lee received the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for his novel Native Speaker(1995). He has since written "A Gesture Life" and "Aloft." Amy Tan has received popular acclaim for her work. Jhumpa Lahiri won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her short story collection The Interpreter of Maladies. Kiran Desai won the Man Booker Prize (2006) and National Book Critics Circle Award (2006) for her second novel The Inheritance of Loss. Her mother Anita Desai was nominated for major awards for her novels. Naomi Hirahara won a 2007 Edgar Award for her novel Snakeskin Shamisen.

Jim Lee is considered to be one of the most popular comic book artists and is one of the founders of Image Comics. Adrian Tomine's cartoons are featured in The New Yorker.

Asian Americans have designed notable works of architecture, such as the Louvre Pyramid and East Wing of the National Gallery, designed by I. M. Pei, the World Trade Center, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Civil Rights Memorial (1989) designed by Maya Lin. In commercial architecture, Gyo Obata, a founding partner of HOK, designed the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. and the Taipei World Trade Center.

Genres of music

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has performed internationally and made new recordings of world music, as in The Silk Road Project. The composer Bright Chang has received extensive recognition for his work, including being invited to be composer-in-residence at the New York City Ballet.

In popular music, Amerie is a notable R&B singer. Tony Kanal is the bassist for the popular rock band No Doubt. James Iha is best-known as guitarist with The Smashing Pumpkins. Mike Shinoda and Joseph Hahn are members of the rap rock band Linkin Park. Kenny Choi is the lead singer and guitarist of the indie rock band Daphne Loves Derby, as well as his solo projects. In hip-hop, is a Filipino member of The Black Eyed Peas. A colorful video by rapper Jin spiraled him to fame in 2003. Asian American jazz is a musical movement in the United States begun in the 20th century by Asian American jazz musicians. Leehom Wang, a popular Taiwanese American singer, played a part in Ang Lee's 2007 piece Lust, Caution. In the heavy metal genre, Asian American singer, Aja Kim, has achieved notoriety as lead vocalist in the role of Bruce 'Lee' Chickinson for the tribute band, The Iron Maidens.


Flower Drum Song is based on the San Francisco nightclub Forbidden City. Rodgers and Hammerstein adapted it into a musical that was produced on Broadway in 1958 and on film in 1961. Largely remembered for the hit song "I Enjoy Being A Girl", it would not be produced with an all-Asian cast until a 2002 Broadway revival.

In 1988, Playwright David Henry Hwang's Broadway hit M. Butterfly won a Tony Award for Best Play, among other awards.


Miyoshi Umeki won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1957 for Sayonara. Haing Ngor won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1985 for The Killing Fields.

M. Night Shyamalan is an Indian-American director. He has directed a number of movies, including Signs, The Village, Unbreakable, and the Academy Award-nominated The Sixth Sense. Lucy Liu was one of the lead actresses in the popular Charlie's Angels movie series.

In addition, Ang Lee is the world-renown director of the critically acclaimed Brokeback Mountain, Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Hulk was one of his early films, which became successful at the box office. "Lust, Caution" is a film he produced independently and released in February of 2008. The film (NC-17) received great critical approval.

Major films have been based on Asian American novels, such as Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake (2007) and Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club and a Japanese turned Korean movie "Oldboy". Others have been created on stories about Asian American communities.


George Takei and Pat Morita became well-known from supporting roles in Star Trek and Happy Days, two of the best-known series of the 1960s and 1970s.

Margaret Cho, stand-up comedian and actress, had a leading role in her own TV comedy series All American Girl in the 1990s, reputably the first Asian-American themed sitcom. Her character was a Korean-American (as Cho is), who struggled with her family and cultural issues in San Francisco. The show included other Asian-American actors such as Amy Hill, who starred in TV and movie roles throughout her life. Hill played Cho's grandmother. Despite being a breakthrough in prime-time television, All American Girl show was cancelled in two seasons due to low ratings.

Comedian Johnny Yune made many appearances on the "Tonight Show" in the late 70's. The late Thuy Trang is probably a familiar face to many children and young adults for her role as Trini Kwan, the original yellow ranger, in the hit youth television show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Lucy Liu had a big part in the Ally McBeal TV show from 1998 to 2002 before going on to lead roles in feature films. Daniel Dae Kim and Sendhil Ramamurthy have achieved some recognition as sex symbols from their respective roles on Lost and Heroes; B. D. Wong currently stars on Law & Order: SVU after being featured in the critically acclaimed series Oz.

Brenda Song is a Thai-Hmong American actress. Known to younger audiences for starring in several Disney Channel productions including The Suite Life Of Zack and Cody, Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior 1 and 2, Stuck in the Suburbs and most recently The Suite Life on Deck.

Leyna Nguyen a news anchor, is also heavily portrayed in news anchor roles in major television shows and movies. Some examples include Boston Legal, Without a Trace, Las Vegas, Two and a Half Men and Austin Powers in Goldmember.

Parminder Nagra (actually British) is one of the lead actresses in the medical drama TV series ER; preceded on the series by Ming-Na.

Tila Tequila is the star of the MTV show A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila

Kal Penn is one of the lead actors in medical drama House. He is one Dr. House's four fellows.

Recently the hit U.S. TV series Survivor created teams along racial lines during Survivor: Cook Islands. People of East and South East Asian ancestry composed the Asian tribe.

In the past, the arrival of the new fall TV season usually meant another opportunity to gripe about the lack of Asian American representation on the air. But recently, with shows like Heroes and Lost (tv series), Asian faces are becoming more commonplace. Yet, there is much room for improvement.

Science and technology

Asian Americans have made many notable contributions to science and technology. Chien-Shiung Wu was known to many scientists as the "First Lady of Physics". Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang received the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in particle physics. Har Gobind Khorana shared the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work in genetics and protein synthesis. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar shared the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics and had the Chandra X-ray Observatory named after him. In 1984, Dr. David D. Ho first reported the "healthy carrier state" of HIV infection, which identified HIV-positive individuals who showed no physical signs of AIDS. Steven Chu shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for his research in cooling and trapping atoms using laser light. Daniel Tsui shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics in 1998 for helping discover the fractional Quantum Hall effect. Tsien Hsue-shen co-founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


Connie Chung was one of the first Asian-American national correspondents for a major TV news network, reporting for CBS in 1971. She later co-anchored the CBS Evening News from 1993 to 1995. At ABC, Ken Kashiwahara began reporting nationally in 1974. Ann Curry joined NBC News as a reporter in 1990, later becoming prominently associated with The Today Show in 1997. Carol Lin is perhaps best known for being the first to break the news of 9-11 on CNN. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is currently CNN's chief health correspondent. Recently, Juju Chang, James Hatori, John Yang, Veronica De La Cruz, Betty Nguyen, and Julie Chen have become familiar faces on television news.

Cultural influence

Health and Medicine

Traditional Asian concepts and practices in health and medicine have attracted greater acceptance and are more widely adopted by American doctors. For instance, in the early 1970s the US medical establishment did not believe in the usefulness of meditation or acupuncture. Since then US studies have proven the efficacy of acupuncture for different applications, especially for treatment of chronic pain. It is now covered by many health insurance plans.

Meditation and mindfulness practices are taught in mainstream medical schools and hospitals. Increasingly they are seen as part of a holistic approach to health. Doctors and hospitals treating diseases such as heart disease and cancer have adopted meditation as a practice recommended for patients.

Meditation, yoga and other mindfulness practices have also been widely adopted by health spas, and spiritual retreats of many religious bases. They are part of the spiritual practice of the many Americans who are not affiliated with a mainline religious group.

Religious Trends

Some scholars see a movement of religions, as Buddhism has moved into American culture, and Christianity has been adopted by more East Asians. Many South Koreans, especially, are already Christian when they immigrate to the US.

Beats on the West Coast were among those attracted to Buddhism in the 1950s. American Buddhist groups established then and in the 1970s have built temples, ordained numerous American Buddhist monks, and taught generations of new practitioners. Buddhist concepts and practices such as mindfulness have penetrated mainstream culture.

While much West Coast practice was first influenced by Japanese Zen Buddhists, more recent generations throughout the country have been influenced also by Vietnamese and Tibetan Buddhist monks who have lived and taught in the West.

There has also been strong influence by American adoption of yoga and related spiritual practices of India, as well as vegetarianism.


Asian Americans have the highest educational qualifications of all ethnic groups in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, while the high school graduation rate for Asian Americans is on par with those of other ethnic groups, 48% of Asian Americans have attained at least a bachelor's degree as compared with the national average of 27%, and 29% for non-Hispanic Whites. The numbers are even more staggering when considering Indian Americans alone - almost 68% have attained at least a bachelor's degree.

Cultural issues

Until the late 20th century, the term "Asian American" was adopted mostly by activists, while the average person of Asian ancestries identified with his specific ethnicity. The murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 was a pivotal civil rights case, and it marked the emergence of Asian Americans as a distinct group in United States.

Study has indicated that most non-Asian Americans do not generally differentiate between Asian Americans and Chinese Americans. Stereotypes of both groups are nearly identical. A 2002 survey of Americans' attitudes toward Asian Americans and Chinese Americans indicated that 24% of the respondents disapprove of intermarriage with an Asian American, second only to African Americans; 23% would be uncomfortable supporting an Asian-American presidential candidate, compared to 15% for an African American, 14% for a woman and 11% for a Jew; 17% would be upset if a substantial number of Asian Americans moved into their neighborhood; 68% had somewhat or very negative attitude toward Chinese Americans in general. The study did find several positive perceptions of Chinese Americans: strong family values (91%); honesty as business people (77%); high value on education (67%).

There is a widespread perception that Asian Americans are not "American" but are instead "perpetual foreigners". Asian Americans often report being asked the question, "Where are you really from?" by other Americans, regardless of how long they or their ancestors have lived in United States. Many are asked if they are Chinese or Japanese, an assumption based on major groups of past immigrants.

Model minority

Some refer to Asian Americans as a model minority because the Asian American culture contains a high work ethic, respect for elders, high degree of professional and academic success, high valuation of family, education and religion. Statistics such as high household income and low incarceration rate, low rates of many diseases and higher than average life expectancy are also discussed as positive aspects of Asian Americans.

This concept appears to elevate Asian Americans by portraying them as an elite group of successful, highly educated, highly intelligent, and wealthy individuals, but it can also be considered an overly narrow and overly one-dimensional portrayal of Asian Americans, leaving out other human qualities such as vocal leadership, negative emotions, risk taking, ability to learn from mistakes, and desire for creative expression. Furthermore, Asian Americans who do not fit into the model minority mold can face challenges when people's expectations based on the model minority myth do not match with reality. Traits outside of the model minority mold can be seen as negative character flaws for Asian Americans despite those very same traits being positive for the general American majority (e.g., risk taking, confidence, empowered). For this reason, some believe Asian Americans encounter a "bamboo ceiling," the Asian American equivalent of the glass ceiling in the workplace.

The model minority concept can also affect Asians' public education. By comparison with other minorities, Asians often achieve higher test scores and grades compared to other Americans. Stereotyping Asian American as over-achievers can lead to harm if school officials or peers expect all to perform higher than average.

Furthermore, the model minority concept can even be emotionally damaging to Asian Americans, particularly since they are expected to live up to their peers who are part of the model minority. Studies have shown that Asian Americans suffer from higher rates of stress, depression, mental illnesses, and suicide attempts in comparison to other races. The pressures to achieve and live up to the model minority image have taken a mental and psychological toll on Asian Americans.


Asian Americans are politically diverse, and tend to vary by ethnicity. Chinese Americans, Indian Americans, Cambodian Americans, and Hmong Americans tend to be more liberal and vote for the Democratic Party. Filipino Americans tend to be socially conservative and vote reliably Republican. Vietnamese Americans also tend to vote overwhelmingly Republican due to the Republican Party's strong anti-communist stance and the arrival of Vietnamese immigrants during the Reagan administration. Japanese Americans and Korean Americans are nearly evenly split between the two parties with Japanese Americans leaning slightly Democrat and Korean Americans leaning slightly Republican. Younger Asian Americans of all ethnicities tend to vote for the Democratic Party.

Overall, Asian Americans as a whole tend to vote for Democrats, but this trend has been fairly recent. In the 1992 presidential election Republican George H. W. Bush received 55% of the Asian compared to 31% for Democrat Bill Clinton. The Asian American vote has slowly shifted since then with Democrat John Kerry winning 56% of the Asian vote in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election and the Democrats winning 62% of the Asian vote in the 2006 midterm election. The shift in the Asian vote can be contributed to demographic changes. In the early 1990s the vast majority of Asian Americans were largely anti-communists refugees such as Vietnamese Americans, Chinese Americans, and socially conservative Filipino Americans. Since then, more socially liberal Asian groups such as newer Chinese and Indian immigrants have changed the Asian American demographics, as well as a larger proportion of younger Asian Americans.

See also


Further reading


  • Helen Zia Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2000. ISBN 0-374-52736-9.
  • Sucheng Chan Asian Americans : an interpretive history Boston : Twayne, c1991. ISBN 978-0805784374
  • Gabriel J. Chin, Ed., U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Reports on Asian Pacific Americans (2005) ISBN 978-0837731056
  • Pyong Gap Min Asian Americans: Contemporary Trends and Issues Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Pine Science Press, 2005. ISBN 1-4129-0556-7
  • Frank H. Wu Yellow: Race in American Beyond Black and White New York: Basic Books, 2002. ISBN 0-465-00639-6
  • Ronald Takaki Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans New York: Little, Brown, 1998. ISBN 0-316-83130-1
  • Lisa Lowe Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics Durham: Duke University Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0822318644


External links

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