Growing Up Asian-American in Tucson


Francisco Acuna, Reporter

Though in recent years minority groups have been in the news quite a bit, little to nothing has been said about Asian-Americans.   According to The Pew Research Center, Asian-Americans are the highest-income and best educated of all racial groups in the U.S., but what is the story behind all this success in a new country? Senior Mekayla Phan says, “Many of our parents couldn’t afford to go to college. So a lot of us grow up with our parents telling  us to work hard, and do our absolute best in school.”

The majority of the Asian-American population resides in the states of California and Hawaii. Locally, in Tucson, Asian-Americans make up less than a sixth of the population, being grouped along with Black-Americans in Tucson. So how does it feel to be in a city that is loved for its multiculturalism and bilingual-ness when you’re ethnic group is still somehow excluded? “Growing up as an Asian kid in Tucson I always felt different. For a really long time at my elementary I was the only Asian kid. It was diverse… about half of the kids were of Spanish-speaking origins and the other half were white,” said David Yhou, sophomore.

Throughout media in the U.S., there have been few to no positive portrayals of Asian-Americans. Asian men are constantly being portrayed as undesirable, petite, and ignorant.  While Asian women are fetishized.  “I feel like as an Asian there are multiple expectations for how you should be like super smart, small eyes, and extremely pale with dark hair,” says Shaudiin Smith, junior.

“What I think makes Asian Americans different from other ethnic minorities in the U.S. is that we have strong community between ourselves. Even though Latinos only have two or three major languages, I’ve noticed that they seem to stay within their own nationalities when seeking community. It’s not like that at all with Asians even though we have more than 13 major languages. We look passed our differences and realize everything we have in common,” said Mekayla Phan. In Tucson, there are multiple organizations and groups dedicated to Asian-American cultural awareness such as Our Lady of La Vang, The University of Arizona Vietnamese Student Association, and OCA Advocates.