It’s no revelation that there’s hella Asians throughout the five boroughs. But according to Census 2010 figures, the community has grown to over one million strong (more than the Asian populations of Los Angeles and San Francisco combined), and make up the fastest growing racial group in the city.
And Asian immigrants aren’t just living in Chinatown Manhattan and Flushing, but forming new ethnic communities in areas like Elmhurst, Sunset Park, Kingsbridge, and Bensonhurst. Yet APAs still struggle for basic services, funding (APA organizations get less 0.25% of the money for city social-service contracts), and political power (there’s currently only one Asian American in the State Legislature, two on City Council, and one in a city-wide post).
One remarkable effort to build power among these growing and extremely diverse populations is through pan-Asian organizing and coalition-building. The 12% and Growing Coalition (it’s actually now closer to 13%) was founded in 2008 and led by advocate dynamos Wayne Ho of Coalition for Asian American Children & Families (CACF) and Steve Choi of Minkwon Center for Community Action. The coalition brings together over 45 APIA orgs, and takes care to balance the needs, priorities, and narratives of each. Check out this article by Kirk Semple that made today’s front page of the NYT.
Far from being the “model minority”, NYC APA communities have complex needs and issues such as poverty, overcrowding, access to education, and linguistic isolation. The 12% and Growing Coalition is helping to push those issues onto the City’s agenda.