Census data

California & the Concept of Race: Asian in Combination


The 2010 Census had a lot of interesting elements, but there were a couple elements that especially caught my interest. First, being more-or-less a lifelong Californian, I am very familiar with Asian Americans comprising a significant percentage of the population. However, because my frame of reference is more closely aligned to that of Torrance, where Asian Americans make up about 38 percent of the populations (U.S. Census Bureau 2010, p. 13), reading that the overall percentage for the state is only about 15 percent (U.S. Census Bureau 2010, p. 8) feels off to me. Moreover, I’m surprised at how low the percentage is for places like the states of New York, with only 8 percent and Washington, with 9 percent (U.S. Census Bureau 2010, p. 8). On one hand, this seems to clash with my own personal experience traveling in New York and Washington, but, on the other hand, my visits were mainly based in the urban centers of New York City and Seattle, where larger percentages and populations of Asian Americans could be found. Nevertheless, this data shows how being in California, specifically in the Los Angeles area, creates a cultural bubble that does not represent the average American experience of multicultural diversity. On consideration, this diversity is a good reason to appreciate living in California.

The second element that particularly drew my interest was the concept of “Asian-in-combination.” This category is clearly useful for the purposes of detailing the “racial” composition of society, but it so strongly reinforces the false and problematic concept of race. At what point does a person lose their “Asian-ness” when “in combination”? Do analysts ever refer to “White-in-combination”? Again, I understand why this data is generated, but I wish there were another way to capture the nuances of identity without recourse to the social construct of race and the mixture of races. Nevertheless, the discussion on the “Asian-in combination” data gave a hint as to the answer to one of my original questions: “What are the relations between Asian American communities and other racial/ethnic minority groups in America?” Well, with 61 percent of multi-racial Asian Americans being in combination with White Americans, while the other racial combinations lag far behind, one may infer that Asian American communities have a greater affinity to or a stronger interaction with the dominant white population than towards the other minority groups. I’m curious as to whether or not the “in-combination” with White Americans correlates with higher socioeconomic status. It is a fascinating social dynamic.

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