Where did all these Asians come from?

Dustin Luther, Sellsius' Joe and Rudy, Jeff Turner and I just happened to be in Los Angeles yesterday. We all agreed to meet in a central location in the heart of Koreatown near LA's downtown that required each of us to drive at least one hour within the city that coined the word "sprawl". I've written about my love for immigrant cultures and communities in California - Koreatown culture blows me away... Korean merchants have remade stretches of Wilshire Blvd to look like Seoul's modern commercial areas... chic and with that clean Asian sensibility.

Very few Americans know that the modern history of Asian America started with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. A followup to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Act essentially opened up immigration opportunities to non-European nationalities from Asia and Latin America. It was an antidote to the Asian Exclusion Act of 1924. Before 1965, Asians comprised about ~2% Asian (in 1960) of Californians, the 2003 census has the percentage at about 12% for non-mixed Asians (anecdotally, most of the Asian kids I know seem to be mixed). In aggregate, they are now the fastest growing demographic group in the nation.

According to a 1998 Census Bureau study, 54.7% of all Asian Americans live in just six metropolitan areas :

Metropolitan area
Asian/American pop
% of total Population
Los Angeles
New York
San Francisco
WashDC / Baltimore

The concentration of Asians in cities gives them a presence that seems commonplace in San Francisco (over 30% Asian). But Asians are mobile; after all, they don't generational allegiance to a home town. The recent California real estate boom sparked a wave of Asian migration into the Central Valley (Sacramento County is already 13% Asian, higher than the state average) and the Inland Empire outside LA.

It impacts real estate because immigrant cultures tend to do business within their social spheres. There is a wave of pioneering Asian Realtors who are moving into the Central Valley, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other real estate-hot areas to stake out their territory and build their American dream catering to the influx of new Asian homebuyers and investors. This migration hasn't yet shown up in the census statistics, but it's another demographic trend towards the cultural diversification of America.

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  • 3/23/2007 6:12 PM Jillayne Schlicke wrote:
    One of the required books from my Grad degree program is "A Different Mirror; A History of Multicultural America" by Ronald Takaki. I highly recommend this book.

    In the Seattle area, a multicultural class is required for your college diploma at the community college level. I hope someday that a course on multiculturalism will be required for all real estate agents.

    Unless you happen to be Native American, everyone here has roots as an immigrant.

    From page 192 "The annexation of California led not only to American expansion toward Asia, but also the migration of Asians to America. In a plan sent to Congress in 1848...Aaron H. Palmer predicted that San Francisco, connected by railroad to the Atlantic states, would become the greatest emporium of our commerce to the Pacific. Chinese laborers should be imported to build the railroad...A year later, Chinese migrants began arriving in America, but they came for their own reasons...."
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    1. 3/23/2007 9:58 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      Glad to hear this Jillayne... each culture has a different story to tell. As a Japanese American, I have kinship to other Asians in America... it surprises most people that there are relatively very few Japanese natives living in the Bay Area so we've adopted the Koreatowns and Vietnamtowns as part of our larger culture.

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      1. 3/23/2007 10:34 PM Jillayne Schlicke wrote:
        Our Seattle/King County Assoc of Realtors President is Japanese American but I just think of him as Jason. We have a large population of all Asian cultures in the Northwest. I'm surprised Seattle didn't make the top six in the Census report.
        Reply to this
        1. 3/25/2007 10:33 AM Ben K wrote:
          I just looked at the SKCAR website - interesting...they have it translated in four other languages - Korean, Japanese, Chinese (not sure which dialect) and Spanish. They have four flags representing the different languages on the home page. Cool.
          Reply to this
          1. 3/25/2007 10:53 AM Pat Kitano wrote:
            Interesting to hear Ben, the three main Asian languages in California are now Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese... Japanese is a fairly rare translation. It's an anecdotal observation because I can read Japanese and note its omission on street signs and online applications. Seattle must have quite a large proportion of Japanese.

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  • 3/23/2007 10:55 PM Jeff Turner wrote:
    Pat, the food was great, but I must say your willingness to educate this white man on Korean culture was even better. Thank you for making the effort to share the details and familiarize each of us with what we were eating and giving us just a bit of a glimpse into what is obviously a rich and proud culture.
    Reply to this
    1. 3/25/2007 11:13 AM Pat Kitano wrote:
      With your consent Jeff, I think I'll try to arrange a culture tour of LA restaurants with you each time I'm down south...


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  • 3/24/2007 6:04 AM Danilo Bogdanovic wrote:
    "It impacts real estate because immigrant cultures tend to do business within their social spheres."

    Your statement holds very true here in the Washington, DC metro area. There are several real estate companies that market and cater to specific cultures. The advertising is even done in their native language. It's a niche that has worked very well for many.

    The nice thing about the DC area is that it's very multi-national and full of diversity. Almost every nation and culture is represented by someone you can meet in the local grocery store, restaurant or bar.
    Reply to this

  • 3/24/2007 6:25 PM stacey wrote:
    I was recently speaking with a client who was respectfully successful and exceptionally knowledgeable about international business. The topic of children learning a second language came about. He strongly suggested that kids should emphasize the learning of the Chinese language. His point was that the world is getting technically “smaller” and that so much of what is occurring in international business is concentrated in China. To appreciate his words all one has to do is to delve into the subscribers of mybloglog.
    Reply to this

  • 3/25/2007 1:56 AM jennie wrote:
    I hate it when I lose the comment I was writing..

    Thanks for the article, it was very insightful. I lived in the Bay Area most of my life and experienced some "culture shock" moving to San Diego for college. The college had "only" about 15% Asians, compared to the Asian majorities I was used to at home.

    My family came in 1975 as political refugees, so the situation was a bit different. But I can't imagine how much more difficult it would have been without the Civil Rights movement beforehand.
    Reply to this
    1. 3/25/2007 11:09 AM Pat Kitano wrote:
      Hi Jennie,

      I experienced the opposite culture shock of moving from Modesto (in the Central Valley), which at the time was less than 1% Asian, to go to school in Berkeley... up through high school, I was already socially acclimated to being a kind of "white guy". My appreciation for Asian cultures developed later in life from college on.

      Apologies for this blog application, I have heard it sometimes times out and loses comments. I'm in the process of migrating to a new application...

      Reply to this

  • 3/25/2007 12:09 PM REBlogGirl wrote:
    Excellent article, Pat. Immigrant cultures from Asian counties heavily impact real estate on the left coast while here on the east coast we see more of South American cultures. I think it is essential to understand cultural differences and how selling to those cultures is different than selling to Americans. I'd like to see a new blog (hint, hint) dedicated to real estate sociology and how different cultures are sold in very different ways.
    Reply to this
  • 3/27/2007 2:04 PM Jillayne Schlicke wrote:
    Hey Mary,

    I teach two continuing ed classes on multicultural competency for real estate agents.



    to learn that many real estate agents WANT to talk about how to connect with clients who were raised in a different culture than theirs, HOWEVER many agents don't know how to talk about this because there's fear involved with having this discussion. Fear of exposing one's hidden biases in a group setting, for one. We provide that safe place in the classroom. This has its challenges. For example, there's always at least one person who brings up the subject of illegal immigration and there are lots of emotions surrounding that political hot issue. All this must be faciliated in a respectful way.

    The related multicultural issue, at least here in the northwest, is agent-to-agent relationships, where one agent makes assumptions and choses to interact with another agent in ways that support his or her existing stereotypical views of the other.

    I predict that at some point in the future, a class on multiculturalism will be a required class within the real estate curriculum.
    Reply to this
    1. 3/27/2007 10:34 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      I can relate... I've been to realtor marketing meetings where, during festive occasions, the participants put on skits... and out come the fake Jewish and Chinese accents (complete with the eye squint). And we're in California...

      I'm not offended by such display, it's a roll your eyes thing. Those who observe such displays see it for what it is.

      Reply to this

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