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Is Orange County the Asian American Dream Come True?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 05:57:55 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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I am a third generation Korean American, and I shouldn't have to be "grateful" for a goddamned thing. I am a born citizen of America. I am ENTITLED to this, and all that my heart desires of the American Dream. It is my RIGHT to anywhere I want, free from harrassment from dumbos like Telling it like it is. I do not care if he is some blond-all American or some descendant of Frederic Douglass. Who gives a flying fudge about that.

Grateful? For what, bitch? This is MY AMERICA TOO.
FU, u piece of scat
   Thursday, November 07, 2002 at 20:03:51 (PST)
Ahh, OC , thae last bastion of white conservatism in California. May it stay that way. They're just scared because minorities dominate metropolitan areas in SoCal.
Let em have the piece.
   Thursday, November 07, 2002 at 19:52:13 (PST)
Orange County is not as accepting as it appears. I lived in Irvine and there was a lot of anti-Asian resentment in the community. University High School has a large Asian population and I've heard a lot of complaints from some whites about it. There is also a lot of Anti-Japanese sentiment. Some whites resent Japan for their success and also learned to hate Japan from their WWII grandfathers. There is a lot of anti-Semitism in Irvine. I lived in LA before I moved to Irvine and I never noticed this in LA. But apparently there is a stigma to being Jewish in the eyes of some whites. There was a Jewish candidate for the city council, but his opponent attacked his ethnicity and he lost. It was a big issue in the race.
My high school counselor told me that a lot of white students came to her with a racist, stuck up attitude because she was Mexican. There is a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment here. Many whites look down on the Mexicans.
   Thursday, November 07, 2002 at 13:23:03 (PST)
"There's not the wide acceptance of Vietnamese culture into the mainstream of SoCal like, say in Houston."

It's primarily because the Vietnamese are mostly segregated in the Westminster area of OC. As you can see, OC is not exactly the most happening part of SoCal. Hence, Vietnamese are not able to raise their level of visibility as much as the asian communities that are heavily populated in the LA county areas such as the Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and Thais.

Historically, Japanese influence(culture doesnt seem to be the proper word) has been pretty prevalent in SoCal since the south bay area boasts the largest concentration of JAs. Sushi is as much a California thing as it is an Asian thing. JAs also happen to be more assimilated than the other Asian groups so it is no surprise to see a Japanese sports anchor on tv along with the numerous JA news reporters. The Nisei Week festivities and the Grand Parade not only bring out Japanese and Okinawans, but all types of people from SoCal.

Chinese influence has become stronger since there is such a huge Chinese population in SoCal. Boba tea places are popping up all over in non-Asian places. Since the new Chinatown is in the San Gabriel Valley's suburban setting, its ability to reach out to the mainstream is somewhat limited. However, the Chinese are all over the place. I even had a very pretty caucasian girl try and use some Mandarin on me when I was out clubbing.

Lastly, Korean influence is really beginning to take root especially since Koreatown is centrally located in LA. Whenever I go to Koreatown, I have noticed more and more non-Asians frequenting various restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, breweries and of course the Korean clubs. When I was having Korean tofu soup in Torrance, I noticed most of the patrons were non-Asian. Due to its location, Koreatown is gradually becoming a place for the adventurous non-Asian Angelenos to frequent for the night life as well as the numerous hip coffee shops and cafes.

OC does have a large population of Vietnamese and a fairly large Chinese and Korean population, but outside of these respective enclaves, there are a bunch of white people...which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Most of OC are very nice areas and an overall good place to raise a family. It doesn't have the eclecticness of LA, but that's probably why most of the residents like it. The best thing about OC for me is that it is nice and quiet, but the fun in LA is only 1/2 hour away.
   Wednesday, November 06, 2002 at 15:45:17 (PST)
We'd been through Orange County recently. Newport Beach specifically. Walking along the beach walk.........we didn't see a single Asian, actually one Asian woman with her white male companion.

At Fashion Island, there were a few Asians. I've seen some Asians at South Coast Plaza....but I assume these are the "shoppers."

I agree. There is a superficiality about South Orange County that is very transparent. Not really a place that I would say is a true melting pot.

So. Orange County is eye candy, pretty and all, but it lacks a true genuine charm like Baton Rouge, Louisiana or Montgomery, Alabama.

There is Westminster, Garden Grove, etc. up in the Northern OC........but I feel that those places are a big Vietnamese ghetto. There's not the wide acceptance of Vietnamese culture into the mainstream of SoCal like, say in Houston. White, black, Mexican and Filipino workers from downtown Houston love eating in nearby Little Saigon, for example. In contrast, I hardly see whites and blacks in OC's Little Saigon.
   Sunday, November 03, 2002 at 00:48:24 (PST)
I laugh at some of the ignorance here regarding O.C. It shouldn't come as any surprise to see the lack of asians in the more "safer" parts of orange county, places like costa mesa, newport beach, dana point, etc. etc. To be honest, you'd see more asians in birmingham, alabama, than these cities.

A little history lesson is in order. Southern california may appear "diverse," but upon closer inspection you would see that most races are quite balkanized and do not like to integrate much. Where integration has ocurred, it has not been pretty to say the least. Back when southern california was still pretty much an isolated desert, it wasn't as lively as it is now. Then one historic inident happened which changed the face of southern california forever: the dust bowl. The dust bowl caused thousands and thousands of whites to migrate to southern california. These weren't your liberal, open minded whites, mind you. These whites were as "hick" and racist as could be. And their descendants are the white residents of "exclusive" OC neighborhoods, and as such they prefer to stay white and not be overrun by coloreds. That is why you see such a strong influence of white power gangs in imperial valley, costa mesa, etc. Heck, there was even an aryan baby drive in costa mesa not long ago.
   Sunday, October 27, 2002 at 13:37:36 (PST)
What areas in Anaheim and Cypress or Cerritos are good to live? I need to find a 2 bedroom apartment out there... Nothing super glamorous... Just somewhere where beaners won't steal my humble transportation and where gangsters won't break in my apartment...

Any suggestions? Preferrably something that will run about $1100 per month...
   Tuesday, October 22, 2002 at 06:46:10 (PDT)
'Raising a family out here seems most preferable; however, you do meet some really nasty red-necks too, you would at least expect some decency out of some of these people.'

-O.C. Native

If at all possible you may wish to move out to where there are more Asians. It sounds terrible there. If you ask your kids, they may tell you some bad stories . You remind me of pioneers living out in the wild, wild west with hostile natives.

To OC overrated,

Maybe white flight will move all the way to Mexico. LOL

You're absolutely correct however when stating OC is overrated. The simple reason is that it's the whites who are doing the rating.
Whenever 'they' rate things it's strictly thru their eyes. If the area is all white bread then 'they' will say it's desirable in many other ways except the obvious. We just have to keep an eye out for reading between the lines.
I grew up in all white ares and I'll guarantee that I will not put my kids through that. Don't fall for the white hype.
   Thursday, August 15, 2002 at 08:22:54 (PDT)
Are the Asians at South Coast Plaza (a shopping mall!) from Costa Mesa? They're probably from Irvine, Garden Grove, and points north.

I agree with MJK, Elaine. South OC is pretty white.
South Coast Plaza is not representative of South OC
   Thursday, August 08, 2002 at 16:48:42 (PDT)

What the hell are you talking about? There are plenty of Asians in Costa Mesa. Have you ever gone to South Coast? Come on.
   Saturday, August 03, 2002 at 03:10:11 (PDT)
I live in Costa Mesa, and I gotta tell ya... I don't see many Asians here. It's very white. It would be nice to see some more Asians, but it's still good the way it is.
   Monday, July 29, 2002 at 19:03:23 (PDT)
I am an AA from South Orange County (Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills...). The education system down here is excellent, most public schools are highly populated w/whites (most of whom are spoiled rich kids who live in a bubbled life).

Raising a family out here seems most preferable; however, you do meet some really nasty red-necks too, you would at least expect some decency out of some of these people.

I personally think that as you live in higly Asian populated areas, it's kind of tough to study and get through school.

Orange County is a great place to live though. However, living in O.C. is way EXPENSIVE, you'll have to fork out almost half of what you make in order to live the ideal life out here (at least in South O.C.).

O.C. Native
   Wednesday, July 17, 2002 at 22:54:40 (PDT)
I think there is a big distinction between North Orange County and South Orange County. This so-called Asian utopia refers to the more crowded, metropolitan areas north of Irvine. And not everyone is happy about the growing Asian population. Huntington Beach has a pretty active Neo-Nazi population.

South Orange County, meaning south of Laguna Hills, is still pretty colorless. The only Asians I've seen in South OC (Laguna, Mission Viejo, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente) were probably Hawaiian surfers.

White flight is just moving further south. North San Diego County is the New OC.
OC overrated
   Monday, July 15, 2002 at 17:34:03 (PDT)