According to the 2010 census, nearly 5% of the American population is of Asian background. In the past, the term “oriental” described people from East Asia and Southeast Asia. Many Asians considered the term derogatory and demeaning. Today, the term “Asian American” or simply “Asian” is accepted usage.
Asia is the world’s largest and most populous continent, and hence the category of Asian Americans is extremely varied and broad. The largest Asian groups are the Chinese, Filipinos, Indians, Vietnamese, Koreans, and Japanese, although every other country of Asia has some type of representation. Asian Americans tend to be concentrated in cities and suburbs, the three largest concentrations being in the Los Angeles area, the New York City area, and the San Francisco Bay area. Asians often congregate in their own communities, leading to a proliferation of “Chinatowns,” “Little Manilas” “Koreatowns” and other Asian neighborhoods. The shops and restaurants in these neighborhoods attract non-Asian visitors. Most Asian Americans identify with their own specific ethnic groups rather than broadly as Asians. Many non-Asians, unfortunately, lack the cultural sophistication to distinguish one group from another. Stigmatization, discrimination, and violence against Asians is sometimes the result.
Family structures in nearly all Asian cultures tend to be strong. Some families encourage their children to integrate into the general American culture, while others make every effort to maintain their linguistic, cultural and religious traditions. Among many Asians, parental pressure on children to succeed educationally and financially is often quite strong. As a result, Asians have the highest education level of any racial group in the United States, and, not surprisingly, the highest level of family and personal income.