HomeHAPAAsian Latinos Defy Perceptions of Race and Ethnicity

Asian Latinos Defy Perceptions of Race and Ethnicity

Asian Latin

By Tinabeth Piña
Asian American Life

It should come as no surprise that you can find a melting pot in the United States; but, there’s one ethnic mix that truly shows you how you should never judge a book by its cover – Asian Latinos.

This diverse group of people defies perceptions of race and ethnicity. The mixtures are endless – Japanese Peruvian, Chinese Cuban or Korean Dominican, just to name a few.

Interestingly, Asians have a centuries long history with Latin America that dates back to the Manila galleon trade routes of the 16th century.

“There’s an uninterrupted relationship between Asia and the Americas from 1565 to 1815,” said Gerardo Renique, a history professor at City College of New York.

The Spanish trading ships that sailed the Pacific ocean for over 200 years brought Filipinos to the Americas as well as Indian and Chinese laborers, who were imported as part of the coolie trade.

Asian immigration to Latin America rose steadily in the 19th and 20th centuries. As a result, Peru currently has the largest Asian population of any Latin American country.

“If you grew up in Peru, chances are someone in your family is of Chinese descent,” said Fabiana Chiu, a 4th generation Peruvian born and raised in Lima. “It’s in our blood.”

Latin Asians can also be found in the United States. There are almost a half a million Asian Latinos living in the United States, mostly concentrated in New York, Texas and California, according to U.S. Census data.

Remarkably, it’s not unusual to find Asian Latinos who speak English, Spanish and an Asian language.

Watch this month’s Asian American Life to meet several Latin Asians speak about the heritage and culture.

September’s all-new edition of CUNY TV’s Asian American Life, hosted by Ernabel Demillo from Manhattan’s Rubin Museum of Art, features reports on Nepalese communities in the U.S. and documentarian Sam Shakya’s Reviving Nepal Bhasa, Asian American judges, Latin Asians, and facial acupuncture, all from series correspondents Paul Lin, Tinabeth Piña, Minnie Roh and Kyung Yoon.




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