The Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) partnered with Asian Americans Advancing Justice to host the local launch of the demographic profile of the South, "Rise of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in the South" on Monday, October 13, 2014. The event was held at the UPS Headquarters in Atlanta, GA, featuring Asian American Advancing Justice's publication, "A Community of Contrasts: Demographic Report," four community panelists, and breakout sessions. The community panelists and breakout sessions focused on four important topics in the Asian American population: health, income/employment, immigration, and language access. Attendees ranged from public officials to health professionals.
By hosting "Rise of AAPIs in the South," CPACS aimed to raise awareness about the current demographics in the Southeast, especially since data regarding AAPIs in the Southeast is often lacking. Georgia has the fifth fastest growing Asian population in the nation and despite this fact, there are very few resources in the South geared toward this largely limited English proficient (LEP) population. In addition, the "Model Minority Myth" – a stereotype that Asian Americans are upwardly mobile in terms of socioeconomic status and more – continues to persist. In reality, according to the Census Bureau, the number of Asian Americans in poverty grew 168 percent between 2007 and 2012, a rate much higher than all other racial groups. Furthermore, nearly 75,000 Asian Americans in the Atlanta metro area do not have health insurance, and about 25 percent of Asian Americans are uninsured. These and other statistics serve to dispel the "Model Minority Myth," strengthening the call to action for culturally and linguistically competent services.
The "Model Minority Myth" as an Asian American stereotype endures even in the realm of breast cancer. According to the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum, the most prevalent cancers for Asian Americans and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders are prostate (76 per 100,000 people) and breast cancer (75 per 100,000 people). However, many continue to assume that AAPIs do not get breast cancer, and intense stigma surrounds breast cancer and the female breast. The CPACS ABC Program uniquely targets Asian American women to combat these prevailing ideas through breast cancer education and prevention – all via culturally and linguistically competent health navigators, who ensure patients are supported through the entire process.
A highlight of the panel was the story of breast cancer survivor, Carol Minowa, who bravely shared her story. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in her right breast in October 2008. A year later, she found out that her breast cancer had spread to her lymph nodes; she turned to CPACS for support, and joined the Chinese Breast Cancer Support Group. At the "Rise of AAPIs in the South," Carol expressed her gratitude towards CPACS and the support group, and described the appreciation she felt being part of a support group comprised of people who understood and accepted her own culture and language in a time when she needed it the most. Both inspiring and hopeful, Carol exemplified the necessity of CPACS's Korean and Chinese Breast Cancer Support Groups and Asian Breast Care (ABC) Program, offering culturally and linguistically competent mammograms, clinical breast exams, health education, and linkages to care.