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Is Orange County the Asian American Dream Come True?

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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(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 05:57:55 PM)


I would expect someone who is prejudiced against Mexicans and Blacks to side w/Realist 101. You must be one of them. This person was OBVIOUSLY attempting to belittle both groups while making it sound like Asians are better and get along better w/Whites when (not that it should even matter) it's simply not true! I am not racist and date my fair share of Asians along w/other races. But I don't tolerate people coming to America (or their ancestors) and trying to dog out the others that were here either before them or arrived at the same time. Who gives this person the right to belittle others when they are not Native themselves!!?? Think about that before you call me racist and side w/the REAL RACIST!!

By the way, I'm on this site b/c remember, America is a free country and everyone w/ the internet has access to
Telling it like it is!
   Monday, July 08, 2002 at 21:15:13 (PDT)
Irvine Bound...

Check w/their local Chamber of Commerce. You should be able to find most if not all of the info you are looking for there. Just a start! What info they don't have, they might be able to point you in the right direction.
Telling it like it is!
   Monday, July 08, 2002 at 21:10:20 (PDT)
Can someone tell me what they think of Irvine in terms of the number of Chinese people there?

Do you notice many Chinese in Irvine? Do you see a large commuter Chinese population in Irvine? That is, Chinese who work in Irvine, but who do not work there? Or students who go to UCI that do not live in Irvine.

I am looking into opening a resturaunt in Irvine that serves Asian food and am researching the demographics of Irvine and surrounding areas.

Thanks for all your help!
Irvine Bound    Sunday, July 07, 2002 at 17:51:06 (PDT)
Wow. Telling It Like It is a real racist. What's he doing on this site? What offensive drivel.
   Saturday, July 06, 2002 at 13:10:44 (PDT)
Realist 101...

What is your problem!? You sound like a complete racist!! I have never heard such drivel in my life! The only somewhat valid point you have is that there does seem to be an issue w/the Mexicans and declining property values wherever they move but that's no reason to hate them and it sounds like you do. And what's this nonsense about "White people and Asians live well together, while Mexicans and Blacks really don't mix well with either white or Asians." First of all, I have news for you. Unless you are Native American, you are lucky to be in this country in the first place! Secondly, how dare you generalize people. If you are Asian, and it sounds like you are, would you like it if whites or blacks said something needed to be done about all the Asians?? I've got news for you, it's being said. You made the comment that Asians were making gains in Huntington like you are so proud of it. Here's a thought...if you want to live around nothing but Asians, why not move to Asia? That way, you won't have to worry about the Mexicans, the Blacks or the Whites. Hey, you'll be in the majority! And, where did you get the idea that blacks and Mexicans don't mix well w/Asians or whites. Hello? Better check the movies, the classrooms, or even better yet, this website. Half of the links are trying to teach Asians how to better adjust to life in America and how not to be socially ostracized by the mainstream...which, yes, sorry for you, is blacks and whites! WE are still the majority in this country and always will be so don't get too cocky. Do you honestly think that America will continue to let in immigrants if we continue to get overcrowded? Nope, don't think so. And here's another bee to put in your bonnet...from what I've heard and seen on this site, many Asians come here to fulfill the American dream (not the Asian dream) and also leave Asian countries b/c they obviously can't control their reproductive's overpopulated! So while you're bagging on the Mexicans being everywhere, wake up and smell the sake, not everyone wants Asians in every corner of America either. Just be glad you have what little sections of America you've got... for now. I pray you don't have any children b/c I would hate to think of them growing up and becoming racist like you! Or worse, if you're Asian, then they'll end up whitewashed like so many Asians complain about on this site. You are a prime example of what they've been frustrated with. But I'm sure you've got that covered and have already married a white person to better "blend" your children in. You REALLY need to check your attitude or check out of America and leave the rest of us to enjoy its diversity!!
Telling it like it is!
   Monday, July 01, 2002 at 00:36:15 (PDT)
Irvine is becoming the next Chinatown.The one in L.A. is dead because Mexicans ruined Los Angeles. Blacks fled to San Bernardino and Moreno Valley. Asians went to O.C.

Fountain Valley has a growing Japanese base, Koreans are there, too. Vietnamese have Saigon, but a trend is they're moving more and more south to FV. Whites are a majority in Huntington, But Asians are making gains there too!

Orange County can be majority Asian, but something has to be done with the Mexicans, in every town. They're causing high crime rates and keeping property values lower. Example, Costa Mesa. Next to Newport Beach and it's trashed except for the South coast mall. It's horrible what they did to that poor city, but the city allowed it.
I don't agree with Wuzzlepow. New Asians are friendly and kind to friendly and kind white people. White people and Asians live well together, while Mexicans and Blacks really don't mix well with either white or Asians.
Realist 101
   Saturday, June 22, 2002 at 00:59:14 (PDT)
i've lived in Irvine, OC my entire life. I saw how it was before many more asians moved here. I was one of the few asian kids in class. Now that more asians have come here, i see a distinct line between whites and asians. Not the majority, but many new-coming asians are pretty prejudice against whites.
   Sunday, May 26, 2002 at 23:17:24 (PDT)