Report highlights Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders

“Arizona doesn’t even see us. And when they do see us, I think it’s a stereotype of, ‘All Asians are intelligent and succeed,’ and therefore they don’t need any type of encouragement or counseling or tutoring and the like.”<br /><br />Not all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Arizona feel invisible, but according to a new report, released Nov. 13 by the Asian Pacific Arizona Initiative (APAZI), many of them do.<br /><br />The report, “The State of Asian Americans &amp; Pacific Islanders in Arizona,” is the result of a year’s collaboration by ASU’s Asian Pacific American Studies (APAS) program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, ASU for Arizona in the Office of Public Affairs, and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Arizona.<br /><br />It follows on the heels of a similar report, “The State of Black Arizona,” which was published last year, says Kathryn Nakagawa, interim director of the Asian Pacific American Studies program. Nakagawa, a professor in the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education, assumed leadership of the project this past summer. “This report arose from recognition that policymakers lack adequate information on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in Arizona,” she says.<br /><br />The Office of Public Affairs partnered with APAS after being approached by former APAS director Karen Leong, who initially led the project. Recalls Leong, “Virgil Renzulli, Vice President of Public Affairs and Nancy Jordan, Associate Vice President of Community Development understood the significance of the growing Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and also wanted to support APAS which is the only such program in the state.” Leong, with support from the Office of Public Affairs, worked closely with student interns, who conducted over 20 focus groups of the various ethnic AAPI groups in the Tucson and Phoenix metropolitan areas, and developed a database from over 250 surveys.<br /><br />“From the initial collaborations, certain areas were identified as being important to the community,” Nakagawa says. The communities – including immigrants and their descendants from China, Japan, Cambodia, India, the Philippines, Korea, Laos, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga and other countries – still suffer from the “Model Minority Myth,” Nakagawa says. “That myth says that of all minorities, Asian Americans do the best,” she says. “They are successful. But just as with any group, some pockets do well and some don’t. They are not all going into engineering. There are health and language issues, and high rates of poverty among some groups.”<br /><br />This is the first report about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Arizona, and highlights the issues and challenges for these communities in states that historically have not had large AAPI populations.  It stands apart from most reports about AAPIs that have focused on areas with high concentrations of AAPIs or immigrant gateways such as coastal cities or large metropolitan areas; few if any have focused on areas experiencing the highest rate of growth in AAPI populations.<br /><br />The report looks at several major areas: The history of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in Arizona, and issues dealing with health, economics and finances, language, the increasing complexity of biracial and multicultural issues, public safety, law and politics. The concluding chapter is on cultural festivals. ASU and UA faculty and researchers, community organization representatives, and student interns all contributed to the report.<br /><br />Highlights from the 80-page report include these facts:<br /><br />• The growth in the AAPI community has been rapid: From 1980 to 2006, the rate of growth for Asian-Americans was 599 percent, with the Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander rate at 738.6 percent. Chinese-Americans, Filipino-Americans and Asian Indian-Americans comprise more than 50 percent of the AAPI population in Arizona.<br /> <br />• Asian-Americans visit doctors in lower numbers than the rest of the population. They are infected with the hepatitis B virus and tuberculosis at disproportionately high rates.<br /><br />• AAPIs have the lowest rates of using mental health services among all other racial groups, perhaps because of stigma or shame over using such services, lack of financial resources or language barriers.<br /><br />• Asian-Americans are leaving their traditional gateways to the West – California and Washington – because they are weary of jammed freeways, high home prices and persistent crime, and they are moving to other areas, such as Phoenix and Las Vegas.<br /><br />Salt River Project donated the printing of 2,000 copies of the report, which will be given to the various AAPI communities, state legislators, educators and others.<br /><br />For more information contact (480) 727-6052 or <a href=""></a>.<br /><br />Copies of the report are available online from the Office of Public Affairs <a href="…; or Asian Pacific American Studies <a href="">http://apas…;