Guest Post

Guest Post: Daphne Holmes

Today’s guest post is from Daphne, who contact me on my blog about writing a guest post. She writes about social justice issues in the American justice system. She is a writer from and you can reach her at

Social Challenges Facing Asian Residents in the U.S.

The United States has a mixed record supporting the rights and freedom of its Asian American

and Pacific Islander population. Though 70 years behind us, the World War II atrocities carried-
out against Asian Americans in the name of national security are nonetheless a reminder of how

misguided nationalism and xenophobia have impacted Asian people on U.S. soil. Thousands

of Asian residents, primarily U.S. citizens living on the West Coast, were interned beginning in

1942 and held in camps without legitimate justification. Though widely accepted as an anomaly,

reflecting on the state-sanctioned treatment of Asian-Americans during this period sheds light on

some of the issues Asian residents face today.


Individuals of Asian and Pacific Island descent number more than 16 million within the United

States, representing 5 % of the country’s total population. And if estimates hold true, the

number will exceed 9% within the next 35 years. The Asian population is spread throughout the

United States, so their plight is not isolated to a particular region. As they integrate throughout

American culture, Asian residents experience unique challenges, including these widespread



Language Barriers

As with Hispanic immigrants from the south, the Asian population in the United States is

expected to master English or suffer limited mobility within American culture. But Asians in

the United States represent more than 30 countries or territories, with over 100 distinct native

languages. As a result, language stands as a significant obstacle for some Asian-American

residents who lack resources for bridging the language gap between English and their native

dialects. And when Asian-American immigrants do exhibit English proficiency, they are still

discriminated against for speaking with an accent.


Poverty and Limited Economic Opportunity

Access to opportunity is disproportionate within the Asian community, leading to high poverty

rates among some groups. While numbers are similar to the general population for the Asian-
American population as a whole, certain ethnic Asians face less promising statistics. Hmong and

Cambodian immigrants, for example, face poverty rates up to three times the national average.


Employment and Housing Discrimination

By some reports, Asian-American residents of the United States face more discrimination than

their African-American counterparts. And where social structures accommodate African-
Americans and others’ reporting incidents of discrimination, a large share of the injustices

experienced by Asians living in the U.S. go wholly unreported.


Under-reporting of prejudice sends the wrong message to society, which carries-on as though

there isn’t a problem. But Asian-Americans experiencing inconsistent treatment underscore the

widespread nature of the disparate treatment. And discrimination takes many forms, including

hiring bias, lower wages and harassment on the job. It is estimated, for example, that Asians

earn 8-10% less than their white counterparts working similar jobs. And discrimination is not

limited to employment relationships, but also includes housing discrimination and other forms of

bias against people of Asian and Pacific Island descent.


Despite the progress made within the United States since Asian-Americans’ darkest hours

of the 1940’s, immigrants still face several challenges integrating into American society.

Discrimination, for example, impacts employment and housing prospects for Asian-Americans,

who are typically paid less and granted fewer opportunities than white Americans. And though

many Asian-Americans exhibit mastery of the English language, they still encounter barriers due

to their speaking accents.


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