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Is Orange County the Asian American Dream Come True?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 04:57:57 PM)

o understand Orange County's unique place in the Asian American consciousness one must reconcile several seemingly conflicting images. First, Orange County has traditionally been one of the state's richest, whitest and most conservative counties. Second, it is home to UC Irvine, easily the most prestigious university in which Asians actually outnumber Whites 2-1 (54% to 28%). Third, it hosts the nation's largest Vietnamese population (145,000). Fourth, it's the home of the import-car racing craze, prompting some to dub UCI the University of Civics and Integras.
Orange County
Home of the Asian American Dream?

     Stroll around Costa Mesa's South Coast Plaza, the nation's toniest shopping center, and you will question the Census figures that place the Asian/Pacific Islander American population at only 460,000 (or 15.3%) of Orange County's 3 million. The crowds of Chinese, Corean and Vietnamese shoppers will convince you it must be 30% or more. In some ways you would be correct. Demographic trends suggest the County's white population is downright geriatric and shrinking at accelerating rates. Including white Hispanics, it is nominally 64% of OC population but it fields barely 44% of public school enrollment.
     The fastest growing segment of the population is Asian, with a staggering 65% growth between 1990 and 2000. Already Orange County is the sixth largest AA metro area and is headed toward the number 4 spot by the next census. For one thing Westminster's Little Saigon is the mecca for Vietnamese Americans, one of the nation's two fastest-growing Asian nationalities. In the wake of Saigon's fall in 1975 the first big wave of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants began their American lives in nearby Camp Pendleton before building Little Saigon on parcels of what were once Japanese American strawberry fields and orange groves. Today Little Saigon is easily Orange County's most spectacular ethnic enclave.
     Chinese Americans are a distant second in terms of OC's Asian population, with a population of 65,000. Most are professionals who tend to meld into picture-perfect communities like Irvine (30% Asian), Anaheim Hills, Laguna Hills and even ritzy Lemon Heights and Newport Beach. Many are former LA and Bay Area residents fleeing traffic and crime. In the process they helped turn the County into Silicon Valley South.
     Not far from Little Saigon is Orange County's own Koreatown stretching over a half mile along Garden Grove Boulevard. With a 60,000 strong community, Coreans are OC's third largest AA population. Like the Chinese, most lead suburban lives, whisking their kids to highly-rated schools in the hushed comfort of Benzes and oversized utes. The County also attracts significant but less visible populations of Filipino, Japanese and Indian Americans. Collectively, Asian Americans are the County's most affluent segment, buying homes valued at twice the county average.
     Is Orange County the embodiment of the Asian American dream? Or is it the place where the AA identity goes to die? Or both?

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WHAT YOU SAY

[This page is closed to new input. --Ed.]
I thought there were more filipino americans in OC than this article would seem to infer. The article states "less visible populations of Filipino". To me they are very visable. Where can I find more detailed populations figures?
OC is a very nice city. Didn't it go bankrupt or something like that a few years ago? How did the changing dynamics of racial populations affect O.C. afterwards?
bardarse
how    Tuesday, December 24, 2002 at 22:44:42 (PST)    [4.47.3.216]
Can someone please tell me if whether or not the Chinese make up the largest group in Orange County? Whether they are bad or good, I would rather live with them.
dsfbcbsijbdax
   Saturday, December 21, 2002 at 06:19:03 (PST)    [24.90.37.100]
"When I first moved into my childhood home in Westminster (Park West for those of you who know) in the late 80's there we were the only Vietnamese family on our block. When we moved out of that neighborhood, there was about 3 white families left. White flight is taking place, and it's really visible."

Yes, I met several white flighters from Westminster in Colorado's Westminister and Evergreen, and they were all running away from Asian and particularly Vietnamese competition in OC High Schools. No wonder they are vehemently anti-Asian and do not like selling home to Asians especially with school-age kids.
Asian who visited CO
   Friday, December 20, 2002 at 11:45:08 (PST)    [138.220.110.174]
Hmmm, being a Vietnamese person now in her twenties that was born and raised in Westminster, I have to say I lived in an environment that was very conducive to growing up with a sense of culture, and it was not hard at all to be accepted by the surrounding white community. I may live in Westminster, but I went to HS in Huntington Beach and I spend my time in all parts of OC, and do almost all my shopping at South Coast. There are plenty of Asians there. Have you walked into J. Crew lately? Notice all the workers. It wasn't like that a few years ago.

Well, I had more to say before, but I lost my train of thought. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think OC is chock full of Asians, even in the "nicer" regions. Last summer, I was interning in DC, where there Asian people are truly a rarity. It was refreshing to go back home, where you aren't looked upon as somewhat of an outcast.

When I first moved into my childhood home in Westminster (Park West for those of you who know) in the late 80's there we were the only Vietnamese family on our block. When we moved out of that neighborhood, there was about 3 white families left. White flight is taking place, and it's really visible.
JustMe
   Thursday, December 19, 2002 at 15:10:32 (PST)    [216.148.246.134]
I moved to north OC after I realized that I cannot afford Torrance, CA. For $300,000 in 1999, I saw what appeared to be an outhouse in sw Torrance. For the price of a 30-year old fixer-upper in north Torrance, I bought a brand new house in AH, north OC. AH/Yorba Linda, unlike the superficial south OC, still retains the rustic look, with mountains, canyons, streams, trees, etc. In terms of quality of life, there's just no comparison. And one more thing. A lot of these "master-planned" communities are more open to "outsiders," unlike the more established, traditional cities where everything's been done in a certain way for years. People who live in new areas are more willing to accept the differences in people, more willing to try out different ways of continuing... We did not come here to "fit" in; but rather, we came here to become part of a new creation that we are all helping to build.
js
   Thursday, November 28, 2002 at 15:45:46 (PST)    [63.93.86.225]
There's actually numerous Asians living in south Orange County but in comparison to north OC, the ratio is smaller. Lake Forest and Aliso Viejo has a pretty large group of Asian residents, the latter city having tons of mixed couples and families. I teach at various schools in south OC, and that is definitely where I see the most mixed offspring kids (parents of white & asian) or from Asian parents that have lived in the US much longer than Asians that have more recently immigrated to the US (and unsurprisingly settled in more affortable homes that is in north OC).

So I wouldn't agree that there are "safer" parts of OC. Just more affortable or areas that newly immigrated Asians have chosen due to their relative already residing there, eg. Vietnames grouwth in Westminster.

I'm in my early 20s and was raised in Costa Mesa all my life. I personally haven't experienced or seen that much racism against Asians to say that it's a problem. Growing up, my friends were of all races. But if they were Asian, they were AA. I really think people tend to associate with others not because of their same ethinicity but of similar background or interests. Although both Asian, I would be more compatible with an AA whose lived here the majority of their life than with an Asian who hasn't. So I can understand how other Asians percieve a lack of visible friendships between caucasians and Asians.

ANSWER HONESTLY, if you are Vietnamese, how many of your cohorts are Japanese? Or if you're Chinese, do you have any close Korean friends?

HOWEVER, I feel the majority of OC residents are amiable and open to friendships with Asians.

ALSO, is it just me or does it seem like AA, once they get their college degree, move to LA?

Lastly, what the heck do you (to whomever said it) mean when you say you never see many Asians in Costa Mesa, let alone South coast Plaza? Is that a joke? Have you been to Mitsuwa, or even South Coast Plaza for more than 1 visit? Other places to see more Asians for your viewing pleasure:
1)Cheesecake Factory @ Fashion Island
2)Tustin Marketplace esp. Barnes & Noble
3)Any Ross or TJ Max in south county
4)Fashion Island on a weekend
Cats
   Tuesday, November 19, 2002 at 13:28:19 (PST)    [66.229.155.165]
Greetings from Orange County East, Evergreen, CO. Many whites here are transplants from the real OC. They basically ran from Asians from places such as Costa Mesa and Anaheim. It is very difficult for Asians to purchase homes in Evergreen, which I have a pleasure of visiting from the authentic OC. It is pretty anti-Asian here..particularly they do not want any Asian families with school age children..they have been burned by competition from Asians back in OC, and they do not want to repeat the "mistake".
Asian Visitor to CO
   Tuesday, November 12, 2002 at 14:22:14 (PST)    [138.220.164.196]

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