May 28, 2024 - News

New report reveals inequities, disparities facing Colorado's Asian American community

The bar chart shows the distribution of different Asian American and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) identities in Colorado as of 2021. Chinese residents make up the largest group with 47,254 individuals, followed by Filipinos (38,358), Indians (35,926), Koreans (33,978), and Vietnamese (33,914).
Data: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2021 via The Colorado Lotus Project; Chart: Alayna Alvarez/Axios

A new statewide research project is shedding light on the inequities and disparities affecting Colorado's Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

Why it matters: Using novel analysis methods, the "first-of-its-kind effort" breaks apart larger data sources to better understand differences between various AANHPI populations, many of whom say they feel invisible and want to be seen beyond stereotypes.

What they found: The Colorado Lotus Project — a collaboration between the Colorado AAPI Circle and Colorado Health Institute — reveals that although broad statistics suggest Asian Americans are thriving, closer scrutiny exposes significant needs.

  • For example, 21% of Asian Coloradans live at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, less than the state average of 24%, but this rate doubles to 52% for Burmese and 49% for Bangladeshi residents.
  • Additionally, while just 8% of Asians as a group report poor mental health compared to the state average of 12%, Korean Coloradans are facing disproportionately high levels of mental health distress at 22%.

What they're saying: ​​"For too long, Colorado's AANHPI community has been viewed as a monolith," Jin Tsuchiya, co-chair of the Colorado AAPI Circle, said in a statement. "A lack of nuanced data and dangerous stereotypes are masking inequities and hiding critical differences in the health and social needs of these unique groups."

By the numbers: About 260,000 people in Colorado — or 4.5% of its population — identify as Asian, either alone or in combination with another race or ethnicity.

  • The largest AANHPI communities are Chinese (47,300 people), Filipino (38,400) and Indian (36,000).
  • The highest concentrations of AANHPI residents are in Broomfield, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties, per the report.

What's next: The report calls on local leaders, service providers and philanthropies to take action, including improving data about AANHPI communities, boosting funding for communities most in need, building trust and breaking down language and cultural barriers.

  • The report also calls for more meaningful representation among state and local leaders, including in the state Legislature where there are no Asian American lawmakers.
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