In discussions of minorities and the policies that represent their diversity, Asian Americans are being excluded from the conversation, according to the authors of a report on the changing minority population in the Boston area.
National studies show that Asian Americans will ultimately become America’s largest minority group, surpassing Hispanics by 7 percent by 2053. The group is also expected to make up 38 percent of all U.S. immigrants.
Paul Watanabe, one of the authors of the report, is a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and director of the Institute for Asian Americans. The institute dedicates its time to researching and providing resources about Asian Americans in Boston, Massachusetts.
The main focus of the institute is not to only provide research and educate the public, but to increase the capabilities of the Asian American community, Watanabe said.
Asian Americans are often placed under the stereotype of being the “model minority” but are not involved in discussions about diversity despite being the largest foreign-born population, Watanabe said. Asians have been the fastest growing ethinc group in the U.S. since 2000, growing 72 percent.
“The significant expansion of immigration that has taken place within the last few decades and its impact on Boston and the region has been immense. It’s not just the immigration numbers, it’s where the immigrants come from,” said Watanabe.
Trevor Mattos, research manager for Boston Indicators, a research arm of the Boston Foundation, is a co-author of the report “The Changing Faces of Boston”.
The report found income inequality within the Asian American community, as this group had the highest income and the highest poverty rate.
Watanabe pointed out that the report specified that, due to language barriers, a significant portion of the Asian American community does not participate in politics and navigating things like applying for citizenship and registering to vote can be difficult.
Asian Americans have been driven by stereotypes which may have led to an increase in their numbers in STEM fields and law. According to Watanabe, these fields are a reasonable areas to focus on, however, parents need to recognize they are not the only choice for their children.
“I think part of what parents have to do is support the desire of their children, and really recognize and value them,” said Watanabe.
“This population, which often has been neglected, often misunderstood, often thought of in a very stereotypical way is one that needs to be explored more carefully. It’s important to fill that particular void within the country and the area,” said Watanabe.