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For at least a couple of decades, analysts have predicted vast cultural, population and demographic changes that will soon begin to sweep across the Americas. Within the United States alone, much emphasis has been placed upon the rise of the Latino population and how by the year 2050, half of the US population will be non-white.
However, what hasn?t been discussed with as much clarity is the growing niche of Asian Latinos, a new cultural and marketing hybrid. Typically considered as separate and distinct population silos, the Latino and Asian communities collectively could potentially steer the course of the nation far more dramatically than ever possibly conceived.
What is an Asian Latino?
The term Asian Latino is actually a concept that is defined in two distinct yet similar ways. First, there is a cultural definition of Asian Latinos, which comes as a direct result of cross-cultural marriage between the two groups over several centuries in South and Central America. Eventually through immigration, the descendents of these cross-cultural unions can also be found throughout the United States.
Second, the term Asian Latino is also used to define a combined marketing niche of America's two fastest growing immigrant populations, Latinos and Asians. The two groups share similarities in the fact that both are non-English speaking groups which have migrated to the US and now have given birth to multiple generations, some of whom are bilingual, but all born and raised in America.
From a cross-cultural marriage perspective, Asian Latinos developed primarily from the migration of Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Syrians. In fact, Filipinos are recorded to have visited the Americas well over 500 years ago, before the Columbian-era.
Filipinos assisted Spanish colonists by becoming sailors on the Manila galleons which were huge multi-decked wooden cargo ships that sailed across the Pacific Ocean from the Philippines to New Spain (Mexico).
The galleons carried everything from spices, porcelain, and ivory, to silk cloth and lacquerware to be sold to European countries. The Manila-Acapulco galleon was a lucrative one, but when Mexico broke free of Spain?s control in 1821, many Filipino sailors never returned home and remained in Acapulco.
However, many other Asians migrated to Central and South America as political refugees from WWII and the Korean and Vietnamese Wars. Yet many other Asians migrated to the region to seek better economic opportunity. In fact the term, "coolie" was often used in a derogatory manner to refer to unskilled labor from Asian countries, many of whom were young men who traveled to other parts of the world for work.
The result has been mixed Latino-Asian offspring spanning across South and Central America. Take Brazil for example: there is estimated to be over one million ethnic Japanese living in the country, not to mention Japanese communities located in Columbia, Argentina, Peru and other parts of Latin America.
Approximately 15% of Peru's population is considered to be Chinese, not to mention other inhabitants of Western Asian countries (Syria, Turkey) who have also settled throughout Latin America as well.
In an interview with Kipp Cheng of Diversity Magazine, Saul Gitlin of the marketing firm, Kan ... Lee explains that "When they come to the United States, their primary language is Spanish or Portuguese, not Korean or Japanese." So there is indeed some degree of cultural assimilation which fuses these two groups together as one.
The Asian Latino Marketing Niche
Although the actual number of ethnically mixed Asian Latinos in the United States is unknown, they are considered to be very few in number, hence the use of the term Asian Latino which actually has a greater value for marketing purposes.
When marketing strategists pair both ethnic groups together what emerges is a potential marketing bonanza. The similarities between the two population groups are indeed striking. In addition to migrating to the US and retaining their native language and in many instances becoming bilingual, Asians and Latinos also share other commonalities as well.
Both ethnic groups reside heavily in western American states, creating a potential voting block should they decide to organize on key political issues. According to the US Census Bureau figures released in 2004, both groups are expected to triple in size by the year 2050 in comparison to the Black and White population groups which are expected to grow at 71% and 7% rates respectively.
Today in cities across the country, Asian and Latino businesses are often located next to each other or in close proximity, such as Atlanta?s Buford Highway corridor and in both urban and suburban pockets of the city of Milwaukee. Hence, small ethnocentric businesses play a key role in serving the Latino and Asian communities respectively.
With so many similarities and an expected triple digit jump in growth, the combined Asian and Latino populations in America could one day wield enormous financial power and wealth across America.
The Political Landscape of the Asian Latino Community
According to the 2004 Urban Institute Studies Program report by Dr. Jeffrey S. Passel, neither Latinos nor Asians vote according to their current population proportions. According to the study, back in 2000, Latinos represented 12.6 % of the total U.S. population, but only 5.3% of the votes cast. Asians were 4.2% of the population but only cast 1.9% of votes. In contrast, whites accounted for 70% of the population, but over 81% percent of all votes.
In addition, the Urban Institute Studies report also revealed that about 62% of Latinos could not register to vote in 2000 because they were either too young or not U.S. citizens; 59% of Asians also could not register. In contrast, only 35% of Blacks and 25% of Whites could not register to vote for demographic reasons.
However, all of this could drastically change as the individual Latino and Asian populations age and become eligible to vote plus legalized immigrants in both communities begin to exercise their right to vote in greater numbers. Once this happens, not only will both population groups significantly influence western state voting, they will also become a major swing vote in key political states such as Ohio.
The Future of Asian Latinos
With tremendous population, financial, and political power to come for the Asian and Latino communities, America will no longer resemble cookie cutter board images in vast sections of the country. Instead, Middle America will soon become every image, sight, and sound of the evolving and dynamic groups of today. Asian Latinos will one day become the norm in every aspect of society and not the exception.
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