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Asian Americans

Americans of Asian ancestry

Top 10 Asian Americans related articles

  (Redirected from Asian-American)
Asian Americans
Total population
6.5% of the population (2018)[1]
Chinese Americans: 5,143,982
Indian Americans: 4,506,308
Filipino Americans: 4,089,570
Vietnamese Americans: 2,162,610
Korean Americans: 1,894,131
Japanese Americans: 1,542,195
Pakistani Americans: 526,956
Thai Americans: 329,343
Hmong Americans: 320,164
Cambodian Americans: 300,360
Laotian Americans: 262,229
Taiwanese Americans: 213,774
Bangladeshi Americans: 213,372
Burmese Americans: 189,250
Nepalese Americans: 175,005
Indonesian Americans: 116,869
Sri Lankan Americans: 61,416
Regions with significant populations
New York1,579,494
New Jersey795,163
Christian (42%)
Unaffiliated (26%)
Buddhist (14%)
Hindu (10%)
Muslim (4%)
Sikh (1%)
Other (2%) including Jain, Zoroastrian, Tengrism, Shinto, and Chinese folk religion (Taoist and Confucian)[2]

Asian Americans are Americans of Asian ancestry. The term refers to a panethnic group in the United States.[3] Although it had historically been used to describe all the indigenous peoples of the continent of Asia, the contemporary usage of the term "Asian" generally excludes people with ethnic origins in certain parts of Asia, such as West Asia, who are now considered Middle Eastern Americans.[4][5] This includes people who indicate their race(s) on the census as "Asian" or reported entries such as "Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and Other Asian".[6] In 2018, Asian Americans comprised 5.4% of the U.S. population; including multiracial Asian Americans, that percentage increases to 6.5%.[7]
Chinese, Indian, and Filipino Americans make up the largest share of the Asian American population with 5 million, 4.3 million, and 4 million people respectively. These numbers equal 23%, 20%, and 18% of the total Asian American population, or 1.5% and 1.2% of the total US population.[8]
Although migrants from Asia have been in parts of the contemporary United States since the 17th century, large-scale immigration did not begin until the mid-19th century. Nativist immigration laws during the 1880s–1920s excluded various Asian groups, eventually prohibiting almost all Asian immigration to the continental United States. After immigration laws were reformed during the 1940s–60s, abolishing national origins quotas, Asian immigration increased rapidly. Analyses of the 2010 census have shown that Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic minority in the United States.[9]

Asian Americans Intro articles: 6


As with other racial and ethnicity-based terms, formal and common usage have changed markedly through the short history of this term. Prior to the late 1960s, people of Asian ancestry were usually referred to as Oriental, Asiatic, and Mongoloid.[10][11] Additionally, the American definition of 'Asian' originally included West Asian ethnic groups, particularly Jewish Americans, Armenian Americans, Assyrian Americans, Iranian Americans, Kurdish Americans, and Arab Americans, although these groups are now considered Middle Eastern American.[12][5][13] The term Asian American was coined by historian Yuji Ichioka in 1968 during the founding of the Asian American Political Alliance,[14][15] and he is also credited with popularizing the term, which he meant to be used to frame a new "inter-ethnic-pan-Asian American self-defining political group".[10][16] Changing patterns of immigration and an extensive period of exclusion of Asian immigrants have resulted in demographic changes that have in turn affected the formal and common understandings of what defines Asian American. For example, since the removal of restrictive "national origins" quotas in 1965, the Asian-American population has diversified greatly to include more of the peoples with ancestry from various parts of Asia.[17]

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.[18] The most commonly used definition of Asian American is the U.S. Census Bureau definition, which includes all people with origins in the Far East, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.[6] This is chiefly because the census definitions determine many governmental classifications, notably for equal opportunity programs and measurements.[19]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "Asian person" in the United States is most often thought of as a person of East Asian descent.[20][21] In vernacular usage, "Asian" is usually used to refer to those of East Asian descent or anyone else of Asian descent with epicanthic eyefolds.[22] This differs from the U.S. Census definition[6][23] and the Asian American Studies departments in many universities consider all those of East, South or Southeast Asian descent to be "Asian".[24]

Census definition

In the US Census, people with origins or ancestry in the Far East, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent are classified as part of the Asian race;[25] while those with origins or ancestry in Central Asia (Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Turkmens, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Afghans, etc.), Western Asia (diaspora Jews, Turks, Persians, Kurds, Assyrians, Asian Arabs, etc.), and the Caucasus (Georgians, Armenians, Azeris, etc.) are classified as "white" or "Middle Eastern".[4][26] As such, "Asian" and "African" ancestry are seen as racial categories only for the purpose of the Census, with the definition referring to ancestry from parts of the Asian and African continents outside of West Asia, North Africa, and Central Asia.

In 1980 and before, Census forms listed particular Asian ancestries as separate groups, along with white and black or negro.[27] Asian Americans had also been classified as "other".[28] In 1977, the federal Office of Management and Budget issued a directive requiring government agencies to maintain statistics on racial groups, including on "Asian or Pacific Islander".[29] By the 1990 census, "Asian or Pacific Islander (API)" was included as an explicit category, although respondents had to select one particular ancestry as a subcategory.[30] Beginning with the 2000 census, two separate categories were used: "Asian American" and "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander".[31]


The definition of Asian American has variations that derive from the use of the word American in different contexts. Immigration status, citizenship (by birthright and by naturalization), acculturation, and language ability are some variables that are used to define American for various purposes and may vary in formal and everyday usage.[32] 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.[33]

In a PBS interview from 2004, a panel of Asian American writers discussed how some groups include people of Middle Eastern descent in the Asian American category.[34] 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."[35] Jeff Yang, of The Wall Street Journal, writes that the panethnic definition of Asian American is a unique American construct, and as an identity is "in beta".[36] The majority of Asian Americans feel ambivalence about the term "Asian American" as a term by which to identify themselves.[37] Pyong Gap Min, a sociologist and Professor of Sociology at Queens College, has stated the term is merely political, used by Asian-American activists and further reinforced by the government. Beyond that, he feels that many of the diverse Asian people do not have commonalities in "culture, physical characteristics, or pre-migrant historical experiences".[38]

Scholars have grappled with the accuracy, correctness, and usefulness of the term Asian American. The term "Asian" in Asian American most often comes under fire for encompassing a huge number of people with ancestry from (or who have immigrated from) a wide range of culturally diverse countries and traditions. As well as having a limited meaning that excludes many people with heritage from (or who've immigrated from) Asian countries beyond the US census definition.[19] In contrast, leading social sciences and humanities scholars of race and Asian American identity point out that because of the racial constructions in the United States, including the social attitudes toward race and those of Asian ancestry, Asian Americans have a "shared racial experience."[39] Because of this shared experience, the term Asian American is argued as still being a useful panethnic category because of the similarity of some experiences among Asian Americans, including stereotypes specific to people in this category.[39]

Asian Americans Terminology articles: 48


Asian American population percentage by state in 2010
Percentage Asian American by county, 2010 Census

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 East, South or Southeast Asia.[40] Because they compose 6% 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."[41] While there are some commonalities across ethnic subgroups, there are significant differences among different Asian ethnicities that are related to each group's history.[42] The Asian American population is greatly urbanized, with nearly three-quarters of them living in metropolitan areas with population greater than 2.5 million.[43] As of July 2015, California had the largest population of Asian Americans of any state, and Hawaii was the only state where Asian Americans were the majority of the population.[44]

The demographics of Asian Americans can further be subdivided into, as listed in alphabetical order:

This grouping is by country of origin before immigration to the United States, and not necessarily by race, as for example Singaporean Americans may be of East Asian descent.

Asian Americans include multiracial or mixed race persons with origins or ancestry in both the above groups and another race, or multiple of the above groups.


In 2010, there were 2.8 million people (5 and older) who spoke one of the Chinese languages at home;[45] after the Spanish language, it is the third most common language in the United States.[45] Other sizeable Asian languages are Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean, with all three having more than 1 million speakers in the United States.[45]

In 2012, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington were publishing election material in Asian languages in accordance with the Voting Rights Act;[46] these languages include Tagalog, Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish,[47] Hindi and Bengali.[46] Election materials were also available in Gujarati, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, and Thai.[48] A 2013 poll found that 48 percent of Asian Americans considered media in their native language as their primary news source.[49]

The 2000 Census found the more prominent languages of the Asian American community to include the Chinese languages (Cantonese, Taishanese, and Hokkien), Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Hindi, Urdu, Telugu and Gujarati.[50] In 2008, the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese languages are all used in elections in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Texas, and Washington state.[51]


A 2012 Pew Research Center study found the following breakdown of religious identity among Asian Americans:[52]

Religious Trends

The percentage of Christians among Asian Americans has declined sharply since the 1990s, chiefly due to largescale immigration from countries in which Christianity is a minority religion (China and India in particular). In 1990, 63% of the Asian Americans identified as Christians, while in 2001 only 43% did.[53] This development has been accompanied by a rise in traditional Asian religions, with the people identifying with them doubling during the same decade.[54]

Asian Americans Demographics articles: 59


Early immigration

Five images of the Filipino settlement at Saint Malo, Louisiana

As Asian Americans originate from many different countries, each population has its own unique immigration history.[55]

Filipinos have been in the territories that would become the United States since the 16th century.[56] In 1635, an "East Indian" is listed in Jamestown, Virginia;[57] preceding wider settlement of Indian immigrants on the East Coast in the 1790s and the West Coast in the 1800s.[58] In 1763, Filipinos established the small settlement of Saint Malo, Louisiana, after fleeing mistreatment aboard Spanish ships.[59] Since there were no Filipino women with them, these 'Manilamen', as they were known, married Cajun and Native American women.[60] The first Japanese person to come to the United States, and stay any significant period of time was Nakahama Manjirō who reached the East Coast in 1841, and Joseph Heco became the first Japanese American naturalized US citizen in 1858.[61]

Chinese sailors first came to Hawaii in 1789,[62] a few years after Captain James Cook came upon the island. Many settled and married Hawaiian women. Most Chinese, Korean and Japanese immigrants in Hawaii arrived in the 19th century as laborers to work on sugar plantations.[63] There were thousands of Asians in Hawaii when it was annexed to the United States in 1898.[64] Later, Filipinos also came to work as laborers, attracted by the job opportunities, although they were limited.[65] Okinawans would start migrating to Hawaii in 1900.[66]

Large-scale migration from Asia to the United States began when Chinese immigrants arrived on the West Coast in the mid-19th century.[67] Forming part of the California gold rush, these early Chinese immigrants participated intensively in the mining business and later in the construction of the transcontinental railroad. By 1852, the number of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco had jumped to more than 20,000. A wave of Japanese immigration to the United States began after the Meiji Restoration in 1868.[68] In 1898, all Filipinos in the Philippine Islands became American nationals when the United States took over colonial rule of the islands from Spain following the latter's defeat in the Spanish–American War.[69]

Exclusion era

Under United States law during this period, particularly the Naturalization Act of 1790, only "free white persons" were eligible to naturalize as American citizens. Ineligibility for citizenship prevented Asian immigrants from accessing a variety of rights, such as voting.[70] Bhicaji Balsara became the first known Indian-born person to gain naturalized U.S. citizenship.[71] Balsara's naturalization was not the norm but an exception; in a pair of cases, Ozawa v. United States (1922) and United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923), the Supreme Court upheld the racial qualification for citizenship and ruled that Asians were not "white persons". Second-generation Asian Americans, however, could become U.S. citizens due to the birthright citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; this guarantee was confirmed as applying regardless of race or ancestry by the Supreme Court in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898).[72]

From the 1880s to the 1920s, the United States passed laws inaugurating an era of exclusion of Asian immigrants. Although the exact number of Asian immigrants was small compared to that of immigrants from other regions, much of it was concentrated in the West, and the increase caused some nativist sentiment which was known as the "yellow peril". Congress passed restrictive legislation which prohibited nearly all Chinese immigration to the United States in the 1880s.[73] Japanese immigration was sharply curtailed by a diplomatic agreement in 1907. The Asiatic Barred Zone Act in 1917 further barred immigration from nearly all of Asia, the "Asiatic Zone".[74] The Immigration Act of 1924 provided that no "alien ineligible for citizenship" could be admitted as an immigrant to the United States, consolidating the prohibition of Asian immigration.[75]

World War II

President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, resulting in the internment of Japanese Americans, among others. Over 100,000 people of Japanese descent, mostly on the West Coast, were forcibly removed, in an action later considered ineffective and racist.

Postwar immigration

World War II-era legislation and judicial rulings gradually increased the ability of Asian Americans to immigrate and become naturalized citizens. Immigration rapidly increased following the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 as well as the influx of refugees from conflicts occurring in Southeast Asia such as the Vietnam War. Asian American immigrants have a significant percentage of individuals who have already achieved professional status, a first among immigration groups.[76]

The number of Asian immigrants to the United States "grew from 491,000 in 1960 to about 12.8 million in 2014, representing a 2,597 percent increase."[77] Asian Americans were the fastest-growing racial group between 2000 and 2010.[55][78] By 2012, more immigrants came from Asia than from Latin America.[79] In 2015, Pew Research Center found that from 2010 to 2015 more immigrants came from Asia than from Latin America, and that since 1965; Asians have made up a quarter of all immigrants to the United States.[80]

Asians have made up an increasing proportion of the foreign-born Americans: "In 1960, Asians represented 5 percent of the U.S. foreign-born population; by 2014, their share grew to 30 percent of the nation's 42.4 million immigrants."[77] As of 2016, "Asia is the second-largest region of birth (after Latin America) of U.S. immigrants."[77] In 2013, China surpassed Mexico as the top single country of origin for immigrants to the U.S.[81] Asian immigrants "are more likely than the overall foreign-born population to be naturalized citizens"; in 2014, 59% of Asian immigrants had U.S. citizenship, compared to 47% of all immigrants.[77] Postwar Asian immigration to the U.S. has been diverse: in 2014, 31% of Asian immigrants to the U.S. were from East Asia (predominately China and Korea); 27.7% were from South Asia (predominately India); 32.6% were from Southeastern Asia (predominately the Philippines and Vietnam) and 8.3% were from Western Asia.[77]

Asian American movement

Prior to the 1960s, Asian immigrants and their descendants had organized and agitated for social or political purposes according to their particular ethnicity: Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, or Asian Indian. The Asian American movement (a term coined by historian and activist Yuji Ichioka) gathered all those groups into a coalition, recognizing that they shared common problems with racial discrimination and common opposition to American imperialism, particularly in Asia. The movement developed during the 1960s, inspired in part by the Civil Rights Movement and the protests against the Vietnam War. "Drawing influences from the Black Power and antiwar movements, the Asian American movement forged a coalitional politics that united Asians of varying ethnicities and declared solidarity with other Third World people in the United States and abroad. Segments of the movement struggled for community control of education, provided social services and defended affordable housing in Asian ghettoes, organized exploited workers, protested against U.S. imperialism, and built new multiethnic cultural institutions."[82] William Wei described the movement as "rooted in a past history of oppression and a present struggle for liberation."[83] The movement as such was most active during the 1960s and 1970s.[82]

Increasingly Asian American students demanded university-level research and teaching into Asian history and the interaction with the United States. They supported multiculturalism but opposed affirmative action that amounted to an Asian quota on their admission.[84][85][86]

Asian Americans History articles: 50

Notable contributions

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.[87] Throughout the 20th century, acting roles in television, film, and theater were relatively few, and many available roles were for narrow, stereotypical characters. More recently, young Asian American comedians and film-makers have found an outlet on YouTube allowing them to gain a strong and loyal fanbase among their fellow Asian Americans.[88] There have been several Asian American-centric television shows in American media, beginning with Mr. T and Tina in 1976, and as recent as Fresh Off the Boat in 2015.[89]

In the Pacific, American beatboxer of Hawaii Chinese descent Jason Tom co-founded the Human Beatbox Academy to perpetuate the art of beatboxing through outreach performances, speaking engagements and workshops in Honolulu, the westernmost and southernmost major U.S. city of the 50th U.S. state of Hawaii.[90][91][92][93][94][95]


When Asian Americans were largely excluded from labor markets in the 19th century, they started their own businesses. They have started convenience and grocery stores, professional offices such as medical and law practices, laundries, restaurants, beauty-related ventures, hi-tech companies, and many other kinds of enterprises, becoming very successful and influential in American society. They have dramatically expanded their involvement across the American economy. Asian Americans have been disproportionately successful in the hi-tech sectors of California's Silicon Valley, as evidenced by the Goldsea 100 Compilation of America's Most Successful Asian Entrepreneurs.[96]

Compared to their population base, Asian Americans today are well represented in the professional sector and tend to earn higher wages.[97] The Goldsea compilation of Notable Asian American Professionals show that many have come to occupy high positions at leading U.S. corporations, including a disproportionately large number as Chief Marketing Officers.[98]

Asian Americans have made major contributions to the American economy. In 2012, there were just under 486,000 Asian American-owned businesses in the U.S., which together employed more than 3.6 million workers, generating $707.6 billion in total receipts and sales, with annual payrolls of $112 billion. In 2015, Asian American and Pacific Islander households had $455.6 billion in spending power (comparable to the annual revenue of Walmart) and made tax contributions of $184.0 billion.[99]

Fashion designer and mogul Vera Wang, who is famous for designing dresses for high-profile celebrities, started a clothing company, named after herself, which now offers a broad range of luxury fashion products. An Wang founded Wang Laboratories in June 1951. Amar Bose founded the Bose Corporation in 1964. Charles Wang founded Computer Associates, later became its CEO and chairman. Two brothers, David Khym and Kenny Khym founded hip hop fashion giant Southpole (clothing) in 1991. Jen-Hsun Huang co-founded the NVIDIA corporation in 1993. Jerry Yang co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in 1994 and became its CEO later. 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. 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. In addition to contributing greatly to other fields, Asian Americans have made considerable contributions in science and technology in the United States, in such prominent innovative R&D regions as Silicon Valley and The Triangle.

Government and politics

Patsy Mink entered the U.S. House of Representatives in 1965 as the first non-white woman in either chamber of Congress.

Asian Americans have a high level of political incorporation in terms of their actual voting population. Since 1907, Asian Americans have been active at the national level and have had multiple officeholders at local, state, and national levels. As more Asian Americans have been elected to public office, they have had a growing impact on foreign relations of the United States, immigration, international trade, and other topics.[100] The first Asian American to be elected to the United States Congress was Dalip Singh Saund in 1957.

The highest ranked Asian American to serve in the United States Congress was Senator and President pro tempore Daniel Inouye, who died in office in 2012. There are several active Asian Americans in the United States Congress. With higher proportions and densities of Asian American populations, Hawaii has most consistently sent Asian Americans to the Senate, and Hawaii and California have most consistently sent Asian Americans to the House of Representatives.

The first Asian American member of the U.S. cabinet was Norman Mineta, who served as Secretary of Commerce and then Secretary of Transportation in the George W. Bush administration. The highest ranked Asian American by order of precedence currently in office is Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who previously served as U.S. Secretary of Labor.

There have been roughly "about a half-dozen viable Asian-American candidates" to ever run for president of the United States.[101] Senator Hiram Fong of Hawaii, the child of Chinese immigrants, was a "favorite son" candidate at the Republican National Conventions of 1964 and 1968.[102][103] In 1972, Representative Patsy T. Mink of Hawaii, a Japanese American, unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president.[104] Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, the son of Indian immigrants, unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for president in 2016.[105] Entrepreneur and nonprofit founder Andrew Yang, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.[101] In January 2021, Kamala Harris, the daughter of an Indian immigrant, became the first Asian American Vice President of the United States.[106]


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, becoming the first Asian American national news anchor.[107] At ABC, Ken Kashiwahara began reporting nationally in 1974. In 1989, Emil Guillermo, a Filipino American born reporter from San Francisco, became the first Asian American male to co-host a national news show when he was senior host at National Public Radio's All Things Considered. In 1990, Sheryl WuDunn, a foreign correspondent in the Beijing Bureau of The New York Times, became the first Asian American to win a Pulitzer Prize. 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. Lisa Ling, a former co-host on The View, now provides special reports for CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as hosting National Geographic Channel's Explorer. Fareed Zakaria, a naturalized Indian-born immigrant, is a prominent journalist and author specializing in international affairs. He is the editor-at-large of Time magazine, and the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN. Juju Chang, James Hatori, John Yang, Veronica De La Cruz, Michelle Malkin, Betty Nguyen, and Julie Chen have become familiar faces on television news. John Yang won a Peabody Award. Alex Tizon, a Seattle Times staff writer, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1997.


Since the War of 1812 Asian Americans have served and fought on behalf of the United States. Serving in both segregated and non-segregated units until the desegregation of the US Military in 1948, 31 have been awarded the nation's highest award for combat valor, the Medal of Honor. Twenty-one of these were conferred upon members of the mostly Japanese American 100th Infantry Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of World War II, the most highly decorated unit of its size in the history of the United States Armed Forces.[108][109] The highest ranked Asian American military official was Secretary of Veteran Affairs, four-star general and Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki.[110]

Science and technology

Asian Americans have made many notable contributions to Science and Technology.


Asian Americans have contributed to sports in the United States through much of the 20th Century. Some of the most notable contributions include Olympic sports, but also in professional sports, particularly in the post-World War II years. As the Asian American population grew in the late 20th century, Asian American contributions expanded to more sports.

Asian Americans Notable contributions articles: 96