Asian Americans are the people living in the US who trace their ancestry from Asians or Pacific Islanders in whole or in part. They comprise of different ethnic groups with distinct cultures and characteristics and different reasons for migrating to America. Despite their varying culture and ethnicity, they have traditions that emphasize common features such as family solidarity, discipline, hard work, and schooling which have made them successful in life (Mathews, 2000). Hispanics on the other hand is a term used by the American Federal government in the 1970s to refer to Americans born in Spanish-speaking countries of the Americas and descendants of people from Spain and its former territories. Like the Asian Americans, they have varying cultures and ethnicity where they see themselves as Mexican Americans, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans among others according to their countries of ancestry. The different groups in this category also migrated to America for different reasons and periods (Affigne, 2000).
Asian Americans makeup 5% of the US population as of 2008 and are described as the fastest-growing racial group. Asian Americans were looked at with stereotypes which influenced greatly their participation in American politics in the early years of their migration. During this period, they assimilated the European American norms and were viewed as docile and silent people who went about their business quietly and stuck together. However, an era of politically active students and young scholars emerged with Asian students making the majority of members in student organizations in major schools. In these organizations, they protested against racial and ethnic discrimination and some American foreign policy regarding Asian countries. Today their political voice is as diverse as their ethnicities and varies according to the candidate in question and the issues he stands for rather than in party politics (Xiao-huang, 1998).
The Hispanics on the other hand had a total of 39 million Hispanic populations in 1990. This makes it the fastest-growing minority racial group in America. Unlike Asian Americans, the American colonizers found them in some parts of the modern US and were eventually absorbed. They were then given American citizenship in the 19th century. This gave them political participation with some Hispanic Americans being elected to congress as early as 1822 with the election of Marion Hernandez. They were also absorbed into military duties where they contributed money, arms, and supplies such as in the Civil war. They continue to actively engage in politics and governance where they have numerous civic organizations such as United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Today they differ in political views depending on location and background with party politics being their main identifier rather than issues and candidate like the Asian Americans. Most identify with the Democratic Party (Marquez & Jennings, 2000).
Asian Americans have a high valuation of family and community relationships, education, and religion with most adopting Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, and Christianity. Social interaction and behavior are valued where respect for elders and traditions and communication style and work ethic, honesty is valued. Hispanics also have strong family strong relationships (Mathews, 2000). Hispanics have contributed significantly to the culture of America in terms of literature, music, and sports such as baseball, media, language cooking, and religion among others. Most Hispanics are Christians with the majority being Catholics. They also have a strong and influential sense for fashion design which has influenced the general American Fashion. They are mostly bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish. On education, though not as highly successful as the Asians, they comprised 12% of public school students and 4 % of teachers in the 1990s (Affigne, 2000).
Early Asian migrations were to provide a workforce in America and started after the discovery of gold in California. They worked as manual laborers in American industries and even took part in the construction of the transcontinental railroad completed in 1869. Today they make a significant contribution to the American economy, where they have ventured into private businesses ranging from small convenience stores to professional private practices and high technology companies. This has led them to be the racial group with the lowest poverty levels in the country with a median family and personal income (Xiao-huang, 1998). Like the Asians, new immigrants into the US especially from Mexico became laborers where they faced low payments, hostility from locals, and immigration problems. Poverty is one of the major problems experienced by Hispanics in America with a 1990 census showing 30% of Hispanics live below the poverty line (Marquez & Jennings, 2000).
Affigne, T. (2000). Latino politics in the United States: an introduction. Political Science & Politics, Vol 33. Issue. 3: pg 523.
Mathews, R. (2000). Cultural patterns of South Asian and Southeast Asian Americans. Intervention in School & Clinic, Vol. 36, issue. 2: pg 101.
Marquez, B., & Jennings, J. (2000). Representation by other means: Mexican American and Puerto Rican social movement organizations. Political Science & Politics, Vol. 33, issue. 3: pg 541.
Xiao-huang, Y. (1998). Immigration and the Asian-American experience. World and I, Vol.13, issue. 2: pg 330-338.