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Austin's Asian-American Community is Diverse and Growing

There’s a common misperception about Austin’s fastest-growing minority group.

Most people would think that title belongs to Hispanics. But while Hispanics are the largest minority group, they are not the fastest-growing. Although their numbers are still relatively small, Asian-Americans are the fastest growing group in Austin.

This story is about a group of people who only have two things in common: they come from one massive region in the world – Asia – and they have collided here in Central Texas.

Credit Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT
The Austin Filipino-American Association sponsored a rendition of the Flores de Mayo celebration in front of the Texas State Capitol on May 10. The celebration includes queens, escorts, little princesses and arch bearers, all in honor of the Virgin Mary.

The diversity of the local Asian-American community is massive. There’s the Indian population, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipinos and Pakistanis.

The populations' growth impacts many things – from the region's broader culture to city decisions on what languages to translate information into.

"We spend a lot of time at the City of Austin trying to determine what third language [we will use]," says city demographer Ryan Robinson. "Of course it’s English, Spanish, that just goes without saying. But there’s real competition for what that third language is."

If Austin's Asian-American community lacks a unified identity, that's partially due to a lack of geographic concentration. Unlike San Francisco or New York. Robinson says the community displays "a phenomenal dispersal; even more dispersed than the African-American population."

Credit Jon Shapley/KUT
A monk poses for a portrait at the Chua Linh-Son Buddhist Temple. The temple serves a Vietnamese population in North Austin.

SrajanBhagat, a St. Edwards student and son of an Indian diplomat, says he appreciates Austin’s diversity because he doesn’t have to belong to just one group.

"I’ve only lived in India two years of my life. Is this what an Indian is?" Bhagat asks. "But, am I also Bulgarian? [It’s] my place of birth."

Regardless, Bhagat concludes "I'm an Austinite now because I'm here now. The water that I drink comes from the aquifer. So that what I’ve been eating is what I’ve been becoming."

Just like Bhagat, now 100,000 from all over Asia can be united in that identity as Austinites.

View more photos from KUT on Flickr.

Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
For the past ten years the Bollywood Bash dance party brings together folks from all over Austin to enjoy in a night of Bollywood music and film. The event is a fundraiser for the Asian Family Support Services of Austin.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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