Chicago is one of America’s greatest melting pots. The most recent census data shows that those of Asian descent made up 5.5% of the city’s population, and yet 7.2% of all firms in the city were Asian owned. As more recent census data becomes available, these numbers are expected to rise as Chicago’s diversity, as well as its economy, continues to grow.
On the national scale, Asian Americans have rapidly excelled. The Chicago Sun Times reported that in 2012, Asian Americans comprised 28% of the nation’s presidential scholars, and half of the top winners at the Intel Science Talent Search were of the same ethnic background. They often go on to represent almost 20% of the populations at Ivy League schools, according to the Sun Times. In fact, the Midwest’s only institution to receive a five-year grant of its type from the U.S. Department of Education was the University of Illinois at Chicago. The grant, which was for five years at $1.86 million, is dedicated to the support of Asian American students on campus.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago is home to 87% of the state’s Asian American population, and the area booms with diverse businesses and corporations. Over the course of just eight years, voter registration in the state increased by more than 50% for the Asian demographic. As the ethnic group becomes more active on the political scene, they are likely to create their own influence to advance their best interests. In fact, in 2011 the city saw its first Asian American alderman, Ameya Pawar. The following year, the United States Department of Justice ordered the state to offer voting ballots in Hindi due to the influx of South Asians.
Asian Americans now have more empowerment for civil rights issues and community organization. Cook County appointed Asian Americans such as Israel Desierto, Sanjay Tailor, Maria Kuriakose Ciesil, Neera Walsh and Rena Van Tine to the bench. Desierto became the state’s first Filipino American Judge, and Sandra Otaka went on to become the first Asian American appointed by the state’s Supreme Court. With continued advocacy, networking and political advancements in the Asian American community, Asian Americans can continue their progress in Chicago for decades to come.