The Asian American Vote
Sometimes you get so caught up in your own head and community that you are unaware of the issues going on in other groups.
For example, even before Obama announced his intentions to run for president late last winter people have been debating on “how” he’s black and what does that mean to us. He doesn’t have the legacy of American slavery in his background, his mother is white and he spent his formative years growing up outside of the colletive 48 and in multicultural communities. Just two of those things together can get you labeled an oreo, but all three can get your black card put on suspension for an undetermined date.
The O.A. have also been loathe to give Obama his props, with a well known leader stating that Bill Clinton is just as black as Obama (although George W. Bush has placed more blacks in higher profile positions than Clinton, but I don’t see anyone bestowing blackness on him).
Some have said that they won’t vote for Obama because they are certain America isn’t ready for it and they don’t want to see him killed. Some have said they find his ambitions suspect, even claiming the only reason he has married a black woman is for political expediency. Others have argued that just because he is black it doesn’t mean he has our automatic allegience and have thrown support to Hillary Clinton and John Edwards because of their experience and name recognition. Being a viable black candidate doesn’t mean that he can be the candidate for a diverse black community.
I was surprised a few weeks ago when I got a letter in my email box from the 80-20 Initiative that was urging the collective Asian community to vote against Obama. I wasn’t surprised that there are non-blacks who had their problems with Obama, I was just shocked to see them taking a page from the O.A’s.
The letter to Obama read:
“You are a candidate for change. Is it reasonable for us to hope that the
change will include us? Here are the main grievances of the Asian
Believe it or not, Asian Americans have the least opportunity to enter
management when compared with Blacks, Hispanics and women; the
slowest rate of progress toward equal employment opportunity in spite of
having the highest educational attainment. Our comprehensive study
covered private industries, universities and the Federal government. Our
data and calculation have been independently verified by the EEOC.
In addition, only 0.6% of our Title III Federal judges are Asian Americans.
Not even one of the 179 federal appellate judges is an Asian American—
this in spite of the fact that 5% of legal professionals are Asian Americans,
many from nation’s top law schools!
To remedy the above are the specific goals of our questionnaire. We are
not seeking political favors. We are seeking civil rights. Senators Clinton
and Edwards have replied with all yeses. Each wants to help make us
become equal citizens, when she/he becomes the president. Since you are
the candidate for change, why are you hesitant to commit to give us equal
Because Clinton replied with all yeses, the 80-20 Initiative had thrown their full support behind her. (Edwards replied with yeses also.) Then I was getting emails that said “Defeat Obama” and “We Give Hillary Clinton Our Full Support”. Then last week the 80-20 sent out an email that said Obama finally answered all yeses but with two modifications. Those were:
“OLD Q4 If elected, will you within your first term of office increase the
nomination of qualified Asian Americans to serve as Article III life-tenured
federal judges, whenever such vacancies are available until the current
dismal situation is significantly remedied? [To put things in perspective,
not meaning to imply quota, presently there are 0.6% Asian Am. Federal
judges, while the Asian Am. population is 4.5% and the % of Asian Am
legal professionals in laws firms of 100 or larger is at least 5.3%.]
NEW Q4: If elected, will you make it a top priority of your Administration
to nominate qualified Asian Americans to serve as Article III life-tenured
District Court federal judges, whenever such vacancies are available?
OLD Q5: If elected, will you nominate within your first term of office
qualified Asian Americans to serve as Article III Circuit Judges, whenever
there are vacancies in those positions, until the current dismal situation is
significantly remedied? [To put things in perspective, none of the 179
Article III Circuit judges is an Asian American.]?
NEW Q5 : If elected, will you make it a top priority of your Administration
to nominate qualified Asian Americans to serve as Article III Circuit
Judges, whenever there are vacancies in those positions?
But to me, the tripped out thing was while all this was going on Asian Americans were coming out and showing love for Obama. It didn’t stop just last year with the Jin video, but during the Las Vegas primaries a lot of Asian stars showed up to support of Obama. Obama’s sister, who is half Asian American, has been out stomping for her big brother. A lot of high profile AsAms (Asian Americans) have come out for Obama before the 80-20 quit their campaign against him, although the group is still backing Hillary.
Emil Guillermo wrote in AsianWeek that Obama might not AsAm’s interests at heart. Guillermo wrote, “there’s real evidence that it would be wrong to assume that Obama is a “rainbow” guy, or that he would even address serious Asian American concerns” citing the alleged snub of the 80-20 questionnaire and wondering what has he done for them lately.
Jenn Fang of Reappropriate.com disagrees with Guillermo. In her letter to New America Media she gives a link to Obama’s full plan for Asian Americans and points out Obama’s childhood growing up among AsAms. In her endorsement for Obama she writes,”Senator Barack Obama recognizes Asian American people as Americans deserving of the same opportunities, benefits and protections afforded to every other citizen. He has a demonstrated history of fighting for a new America that takes care of all its citizens, not just those who have been here the longest and have had the fewest problems.”
Which just goes to show there probably isn’t a monolithic group anywhere in the U.S. The best a candidate can do is make make your stand on what you feel is true and hope not to piss too many people off. I have to admit, I have heard the media speak a lot on the African American vote, the Hispanic Vote, women as a voting block and even white males. I have yet to hear mainsteam media addressing the Asian American vote as a group. Which isn’t an excuse considering how in past elections the numbers have been so close. Every vote counts and no one can be marginalized, even if it means going to the 18-25 year old males who do nothing but play Guitar Hero all day I’d suggest the candidates brush up on Stairway to Heaven because it’s going to be a long ride.
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