Asian-Pacific American Heritage
Mon May 12, 2014
Austin's Asian-American Community is Diverse and Growing
There’s a common misperception about Austin’s fastest-growing minority group.
Most people would think that title belongs to Hispanics. But while Hispanics are the largest minority group, they are not the fastest-growing. Although their numbers are still relatively small, Asian-Americans are the fastest growing group in Austin.
This story is about a group of people who only have two things in common: they come from one massive region in the world – Asia – and they have collided here in Central Texas.
The diversity of the local Asian-American community is massive. There’s the Indian population, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipinos and Pakistanis.
The populations' growth impacts many things – from the region's broader culture to city decisions on what languages to translate information into.
"We spend a lot of time at the City of Austin trying to determine what third language [we will use]," says city demographer Ryan Robinson. "Of course it’s English, Spanish, that just goes without saying. But there’s real competition for what that third language is."
If Austin's Asian-American community lacks a unified identity, that's partially due to a lack of geographic concentration. Unlike San Francisco or New York. Robinson says the community displays "a phenomenal dispersal; even more dispersed than the African-American population."
Srajan Bhagat, a St. Edwards student and son of an Indian diplomat, says he appreciates Austin’s diversity because he doesn’t have to belong to just one group.
"I’ve only lived in India two years of my life. Is this what an Indian is?" Bhagat asks. "But, am I also Bulgarian? [It’s] my place of birth."
Regardless, Bhagat concludes "I'm an Austinite now because I'm here now. The water that I drink comes from the aquifer. So that what I’ve been eating is what I’ve been becoming."
Just like Bhagat, now 100,000 from all over Asia can be united in that identity as Austinites.
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