Tina Shaw - Office of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs

iowa department of human rights

June 1, 2018

Commission of Asian & Pacific Islander (CAPI) Affairs


Office of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs

Letter from Ben Jung, CAPI Chair

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) just drew to a close with CelebrAsian which took place this past Memorial Day weekend in Western Gateway Park in downtown Des Moines. This year marked the 16th Anniversary of CelebrAsian which has grown to over 13 villages - each showcasing food, culture and history unique to a country and its people.  

Nationally, May was designated as APAHM by Congress almost three decades ago when it passed a bill extending Asian-American Heritage Week to a month. In 1992, it received a permanent designation status and has annually been proclaimed as such by all sitting presidents.

The significance of Asian & Pacific Islanders (API) in Iowa should not be understated. According to statistics as recent as 2016 released by the State Data Center of Iowa and the Office of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs, a total of 82,327 Iowans can trace their heritage to Asian or Pacific Islander – that is 2.6% of the state’s total population. From 2006-2016, the percentage change in Iowa’s API population was an impressive 114.9% and this trend mirrors the increasing population change occurring across the country.

API Iowans reflect the dynamic and diverse countries and peoples of the Asian continent and Pacific Islands with numerous languages and dialects, some widely known, such as Mandarin Chinese and others lesser known like Tagalog or Chin.  Another notable statistic for Iowa API’s is the higher percentage choosing to become U.S. citizens:  41.7% of Asians naturalize over 38.7% of other foreign-born Iowans.

Increasingly, Iowa’s APIs participate in all levels of work and education with a steady rate of higher education attainment, but not all excel toward economic security. Defying the “minority myth” that all Asians are succeeding, data shows us that Iowa’s API poverty rate is at 13.9% - higher than the11.8% state average for all Iowans.

Over the last 16 years, CelebrAsian has grown and will continue to grow.  These facts and figures hit home as festival-goers walked among the Asian nation-villages and experienced the diversity not requiring a plane ticket nor a passport. Many came to sample amazing food or to learn a new Burmese phrase. Whatever the reason, CelebrAsian leaves an indelible mark that what once was foreign to Iowans generations ago is actually a rich part of Iowa’s heritage today. 

Highlights from CelebrAsian 2018

CelebrAsian Photo Collage

Follow us on Twitter

More CelebrAsian 2018 memories in pictures found @IowaDHR

Meet CAPI in Sioux City on June 16

The Commission of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs will be in Sioux City for the 7th Annual Siouxland Asian Festival on June 16 to meet with northwest Iowa's API community. CAPI Commissioner Peggy La helped to bring this heritage festival to northwest Iowans. Join us!  

SXC 2018 Asian Festival

DHR Iowa Immigrant Storytelling Series in June

#IowasImmigrant social media campaign

Be Ready to Vote in Iowa's Primary Election June 5th

 Unsure where to go to vote? Check with the Secretary of State or your County Auditor.

Voter D



The buying power of Asian-American consumers has grown the fastest of all ethnic groups since 2000, reaching $986 billion in 2017, and projected to be $1.3 trillion by 2022. Asian-American consumers are expanding their influence and voicing their preferences as customers, audiences and voters like never before. Thus, understanding Asian-Americans has become more important for any organization servicing the American public.

Source: Nielsen



As of 2015, there were over 4,310 Asian-owned firms in Iowa. Outdated, that number will change as US Census surveys are currently out for the 2017 Survey of Business Owners, which provides a broad socio-economic picture of business owners across the nation. The Survey of Business Owners is part of the Census Bureau’s five‑year economic census, conducted in years ending in two and seven. But, not all business owners will get a survey. Check out this Census podcast to understand why.



Asian Americans Are the Least Likely Group in the U.S. to Be Promoted to Management

Excerpt: Across the country, the results are the same. Our analysis of national EEOC workforce data found that Asian American white-collar professionals are the least likely group to be promoted from individual contributor roles into management.

Source: Harvard Business Review
Data sourced from EEOC 

US CENSUS 2020 - Checking the Boxes

Migration, racial or ethnic self-identity, and marriage were among the many topics explored at the Population Association of America’s annual meeting in Denver. The meeting is the largest demography conference in the United States.

Among the findings: "There is increasing research interest in how people choose racial or ethnic categories to describe themselves. One PAA presentation examined this choice for self-identified Filipino Americans, whose numbers in the U.S. grew from about 2.4 million in 2000 to nearly 4 million in 2015. Many Filipinos have Spanish surnames, reflecting the Philippines’ Spanish colonial history. Even so, only about 8% of Filipinos living in the U.S. check the Hispanic box on their census forms."

Source: Pew Research Center

HEALTH CARE – New Equity Initiative

The American Hospital Association launched a new initiative #123forEquity Campaign to eliminate healthcare disparities. The initiative is linked with AHA's affiliate: The Institute for Diversity and Health Equity which formed in 2017. The mission of the Institute is “to empower health organizations to provide equitable care for all persons...and to advance health care equity, diversity and inclusion."

HEALTH CARE – Mental Illness

University of Massachusetts Study Shows Major Mental Healthcare Disparity Between Whites And Asian-Americans

Abstract:  The present study sought to examine the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders comparing Asian Americans (AA) and non-Hispanic Whites (WNH) drawn from a population accessing a large general hospital for any reason. Socio-demographic predictors of diagnosis and treatment were also explored.

Source: WGBH News

University of Massachusetts Medical School study in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry.