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LOS ANGELES — The term “Asian American” appears innocuous today.

“If you were to ask most people who are Asian American, ‘Describe your race or ethnicity,’ they would say, ‘I’m Japanese American,’ ‘I’m Thai, Cambodian, Filipino.’ Very few of us would start out by saying, ‘I’m Asian American,’” Daryl Maeda, a professor of Asian-American studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder and author of the book, “Rethinking the Asian American Movement,” said.

It was only in 2016 that the U.S. government formally banned the word Oriental in federal law, instead requiring the use of the term Asian American.

Creating a communityWhile the term Asian American was used in activist and academic circles, it took decades for the term to become popularized across the country.

“Today when a community of immigrants and the descendants of immigrants from Asia is more diverse than ever, the term Asian American is more essential than ever before,” Maeda said.

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