Dixie is becoming increasingly diverse, and Asian Americans are at the heart of that demographic shift.
A new report, "A Community of Contrasts," by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), out today, highlights the varied and fast-growing Asian-American population across five, southern, metropolitan hubs: Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and the Washington, D.C. area. Nearly four million Asian Americans and 195,000 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders live in the South.
"One of the frustrations of the Asian-American communities is that people think of us as foreigners or as model minorities," said Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center, an AAAJ affiliate. "The reality is that generations of Asian Americans have contributed enormously to the construction and progress of this country. We're tired of being the invisible owners and contributors of this country we call home."
Among the report's key findings between 2000 and 2012:
- The Asian-American population is growing faster in the South than in any other region nationwide, and faster than any other facial group (69%).
- The number of Asian Americans who registered to vote grew by 100% in Georgia, 73% in Florida, and 136% in Virginia.
- Asian-American buying power more than doubled in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Maryland, and Virginia.
But Moua warns that despite great strides in growth and influence, huge swaths of the community remain under-served. Unemployment has risen sharply, and a greater proportion of Asian Americans are now low-income and have lower per capita income than Whites.
"The well-being of these populations directly impacts the ability of the whole community to be successful, to grow, and to progress economically," said Moua. "Given the trajectory of the growth of our population, a failure to calculate us and our vulnerabilities into core strategies -- housing, economic development, education -- is a failure of the policies of those cities and states."