The Asian & Pacific Islander Community in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile

2014 CCC Profiles - API Report.jpg
2014 CCC Profiles - API Report.jpg

The Asian & Pacific Islander Community in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile

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This report is the most comprehensive undertaking to detail the experiences of those in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community in Multnomah county3 to date. Discoveries made within this report are significant: racial disparities facing the community are pronounced as community members are unable to achieve racial equity in employment, education, occupation, incomes, housing and more. This summary emphasizes the nature of these differences, particularly in comparison with the national Asian and Pacific Islander experience, and interprets these findings, reaching a conclusion that the API community faces, as do other communities of color, particularly toxic local conditions that are borne of current and historic institutional racism and its corollary of white privilege. This summary concludes with a set of urgent policy recommendations: those that are specific to the API community and those that have been endorsed across communities of color by the Coalition of Communities of Color and which the API community sees as essential to its own prosperity and wellbeing.

Multnomah county’s Asian and Pacific Islander community is diverse. Although the community is now spreading out into other parts of Oregon, historically, the API community has been most populated in the Portland area due to employment and to maintain ties to the larger ethnic enclaves.4 This introduction does not serve to simply recall past history, but also to frame current experiences. Although in some areas of the lived experience, Asian and Pacific Islanders in Oregon seemingly fare better than other communities of color, it is important to recognize the long history of racism and discrimination and the differing receiving contexts that immigrants experience upon arrival. It is also essential to recognize that the Asian and Pacific Islander community here in Multnomah county fares considerably worse than Asian counterparts as measured as a composite across the USA.