November 23, 2014

Press coverage of AAA Fund & endorsees

Thanks to Asian Fortune and Jennie Ilustre for the extensive shout out on the rise of Asian American candidates. Also, congrats to everyone who ran for their leadership and courage.  -Caroline

Gautam Dutta, executive director of Asian American Action Fund, a political action committee based in the nation’s capital, is optimistic about Honda’s chances in November. “Having beaten his opponent by a 2-1 margin last June, Congressman Honda is in a strong position to win in November,” he said. Triple-A Fund has endorsed Honda and the other Democratic candidates for Congress. It enjoys a good batting average in its endorsements. “In the 2012 elections,eight of our 13 candidates won, a success rate of nearly two-thirds,” Dutta pointed out.

Other Triple-A Fund-endorsed candidates are: US Rep. Ami Bera (CA), running for reelection;U.S. Representative Judy Chu (CA-27), running for reelection; US Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL-8)), running for re-election; US Rep. Mark Takano ((CA-41), running for re-election; Mark Takai of Hawaii, candidate for Congress; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2); and Dr. Manan Trivedi, an Iraq War vet who’s running for an open congressional seat from Pennsylvania.

US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa lost in the tight primary for the US Senate to Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, who was appointed to fill the seat of the late US Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. Pundits say Schatz is a shoo-in in November.

At press time, Dutta said AAA-Fund has not decided on endorsement regarding Leland Cheung, who is running for election for Lieutenant Governor in Massachusetts. Other state races feature Stephanie Chang, candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives; and Pramila Jayapal, candidate for Washington State Senate.


In every election cycle, Asian American leaders note the importance of becoming candidates and also voter turn-out, citing the critical issues at stake. But due to recent news on immigration, for example, the stakes are higher, indeed.

Triple A-Fund Executive Director Dutta said this year is crucial, both for issues of concern to the community and to mainstream America. In telephone and email interviews from San Jose, California, he said, “Important issues that affect our families are at stake. The newly-elected Congress will be in a position to decide a number of critical issues, including immigration reform, education and economic opportunity.”

Midterm elections are notorious for low voter turn-out. “I urge everybody to turn up on Election Day,” said Dutta of Asian American Action Fund. He said voters can show up on Election Day, or mail their ballots through early voting.

 

Key takeways from AAPI in-language Election Eve poll

Editorial Context: National Election Pool (NEP) is what AP, CNN and the major news services rely upon for exit polling data. It found AAPIs had a huge swing from 2012 and were the group that Republicans made the largest gains with, coming out 52D-48R (revised by them to 50D-49R.) This is slightly controversial as it doesn’t capture the Limited English Proficiency AAPIs in our population. I will also add that some of the debate around how pollsters got 2014 so wrong, some say is because pollsters pegged too closely to the US Census American Community Survey and therefore did not capture the midterm audience accurately (tends to be less diverse and older than voters in presidential years.) Also it should be noted that this in-language poll was taken pre-election.

Here are a few links about how  and why the polls were so wrong. Also any errors/ ommisions in typing were mine as I was taking notes on the call. For pretty graphics look at the presentation. -Caroline

Asian American Decisions did an in-language election eve poll of 2014 AAPI voters found here: http://vote.18mr.org/static/AAD_EE_Presentation.pdf

 

All findings from www.asianamericandecisions.com & Taeku Lee
1150 voters in 6 languages versus

National Exit Poll was of 129 voters in English, margin of error could be as high as 9%.

2-1 margins in favor of Dems 61-34%.
Although AAPIs have certain progressive values, most AAPIs do not identify as Democrats.

Texas Gov race: Asian Ams went 48-48 for Davis and Abbott.

VA Sen: AAPI 68-29 for Warner. Independents went 65-30 for Warner. Vote margin for Warner was estimated 25-30k votes, larger than Warner’s margin of victory.

Key issues:
Economy/ Jobs 32% (less prominent than 2012-2008)
Education Schools 22%
Health Care

40% of AAPIs indicated healthcare was either the most important issue or one of the top issues.

Immigration was lower down the list. 22% said immigration was not important in voting.

Partisanship:
Dem ID 97%
Republican ID 83%
Independent 58D.

Obama approval:
58-33 (15 pts higher than general population via Gallup)

Dem vote share went from 73% in 2012 to 66% in 2014

2012:
45I 14R 41D

2014:
40I 22R 39D

Partisan split on Obamacare
52 favorable 37 unfavorable

Immigration
60 support 26 oppose

Rep ID 47 support (more than oppose)

Min Wage
74-18 support

Rep ID: 57 support 32 oppose
Indep ID 67-24 support

Affirmative Action
63-26 support

Dem ID: 86-10 support
Rep ID: 38-48 oppose
Ind ID 56-30 support

Media consumption
37% internet
36% tv
12% paper

1 in 4 rely on ethnic media
1 in 6 rely on Asian language ethnic media

40% of sample was in language polling

56% were not contacted about voting

Contacted about voting by:
22 D only
11 R only
39 both parties
21 community org

2016:
65 D
35 R
33% said they were undecided or refused to give a response

Hillary Clinton:
62 favorable
23 unfavorable
2 not heard of
13 don’t know

GOP hopefuls have high unknowns, unfavorables.
Jeb Bush
25 fav 46 unfav 11 unheard 18 don’t know

Christie had 43% unfavorables.

Q & A:
Immigration sounds like it’s less important as an election issue than for the Latino community. Not single most important issue. 2014 is not a big change for AAPIs.

High no opinion rate that shows up in most polls. Party ID high portion of AAPIs either ID as independent or say they don’t know how to answer that q. Also for 2016 a high undecided portion. Tend not to share vote choice and partisanship in phone surveys until close to closing days.

Immigration linked to pathway to citizenship, were there other options provided for immigration reform? Big change between 2008 and 2012 in terms of big increase in AAPI support for immigration reform with pathway for citizenship. in 2008 it was 1 in 3. 2012 increased to majority. 2014 still a majority.

Since this is partnership between Asian American Decisions and Latino Decisions, any additional info on Young Kim & Janet Nguyen, 2 AAPI Republicans who won over Latino Dems in Orange County & implications?
Oversamples CA TX VA representative of AAPIs throughout the state. Didn’t ask horserace questions but will look into more info.

If you are only tapping English-only AAPIs, then that’s only one slice. NEP weighting moved from 52-48 D then they moved it to 50-49. This survey is pegged to Census weights. Still waiting to see why NEP they changed the weight. NEP is low sample size and they haven’t designed a way of getting an accurate picture of how AAPIs voted.

 

AAAF Seeks Campaign Fellows for Reps. Honda, Bera

APPLY NOW FOR MIKE HONDA CAMPAIGN FELLOWSHIPS! DEADLINE SEPT 22

Looking to work on a campaign and want to get paid for it? The Asian American Action Fund seeks two Mike Honda Campaign Fellows to work on targeted campaigns for AAA-Fund endorsed candidates. Fellows should be willing to relocate. Stipend of $2,000 per month plus supporter housing. Send resume and a cover letter to asianamericanactionfund@gmail.com. Please specify which position you ‘d like to be considered for.

Field Organizers

AAA-Fund is looking for a fellows to help implement voter contact plans for targeted races in several states, build relationships with activists and community groups on the ground, and work to turn out the vote for the campaign.

Qualifications.
– Candidates must be willing to work long and/or odd hours through the campaign.
– Candidates must be able to speak and work with diverse communities and leaders.
– Candidates must have strong interpersonal skills and be a team player.
– Candidates with past experience on an electoral or issue advocacy a plus.
– Bilingual candidates preferred, but not required. (Mandarin, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Cantonese, and/or Spanish)
– Candidates must have reliable transportation and their own laptops.

Responsibilities
– Implementing an aggressive voter contact program
– Recruiting, managing, and training volunteers
– Planning events and house parties throughout the district
– Building relationships with political stakeholders, activists, and neighborhood leaders
– Collecting and managing data from the field efforts
– Report to the field director

Legal Protection Fellow

AAA-Fund is looking for a qualified fellow to manage the voter protection efforts for a highly targeted Democratic Congressional campaign in California. Most important qualities:

1) Being able to recruit/train/deploy/lead a team of election protection volunteers
2) Manage relationships outside of the campaign, particularly at the County Registrars office
3) An entrepreneurial and strategic thinker who can anticipate where voter challenges are likely to crop up.

Fellows will be working full-time on a Congressional campaign; therefore, he or she should also be comfortable long hours, be a skilled multi-tasker, team player, dedicated to the cause, and be flexible and willing to help the campaign wherever help is needed!

A J.D. is strongly preferred, but not required. The candidate should be prepared to work with lawyers/law students as well as County election officials.

–Caroline

Health disparities and Electronic Medical Records

I have been thinking in my personal life about electronic medical records (EMR.) A number of friends are doctors who service multiple hospitals, and they sometimes encounter different systems at each hospital (if the hospitals even have electronic medical records.)

As a privacy advocate, it might be weird for me to be advocating electronic medical records because of the potential hazards, but as a patient, it is much, much easier to have continuity of care with EMR. I don’t have to drag a paper printout of my test results with me to each new doctor. When I was insured via Kaiser, it literally took minutes from the time I walked from my doctor down to the pharmacy below for my prescription to be filled. The doctor had ordered the Rx while I was with her, and sent it electronically. It was truly a beautiful streamlined feat that I still wonder at. Like pressing the Staples “Easy” button.

Not being a medical professional, I don’t have to worry if I’m repeating back the precise medical jargon that was fed to me before. For patients who have limited English proficiency (LEP), it is easier than having family members serve as sometimes imperfect translators each and every visit. This doesn’t negate the need for each doctor or specialist to ask questions, but it can be helpful for establishing and cross-checking prior medical history. And it’s important for EMRs to be tailored to specific communities – recommendations for best practices are outlined by HHS and Partnership for Women and Families.

Obviously, having a nationwide EMR system exposes a ridiculous amount of HIPAA data to hackers, and there would have to be the most stringent measures taken to protect patient safety. However, there are already certain nationwide EMR systems such as the one used by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which was one of the early adopters of EMR. Despite some of the ways in which the VA is currently broken, the agency deserves kudos on this count. Doctors actually point to the VA EMR system as a model of efficiency even compared to systems at top university hospitals. (That the VA system and the Department of Defense systems don’t talk to each other is a whole other story.)

The same way that I can get a prescription filled in different cities because my information and insurance is in the system, it would be great if not only veterans, but all Americans, could see healthcare practitioners who understand their medical histories without having to wait for the home institution or doctor’s office to fax over information.

I could even see a system that has translations of diseases, causes, symptoms, and treatments that a patient could look over. This isn’t perfect because not all patients are necessarily literate in their native languages, but it could help to overcome some of the barriers. Obviously we still want more culturally and linguistically competent providers and translators at hospitals, but this is a way of bridging the divide. We can make tech work to increase voter participation and allow people to cast ballots in their native languages, why not to improve health outcomes?

–Caroline

Ferguson riots

[Written August 11th. This is as much an update for friends and family as it is a perspective from someone who is new to town.]

So I moved to St. Louis 6 weeks ago. Been out of town for about 3 of those weeks. Let’s count it as 3 weeks on the ground. Everyone is very friendly, strangers talk to you on the street. My A/C broke and my neighbors who I had only ever met once before offered me the use of both of their fans. (We only needed one for the bedroom.) Then I bumped into a new neighbor whom I had never met, and she offered to lend me her fans. Overall, St. Louis is great.

Everyone talked about the racial divide, the Delmar divide. We saw glimpses of it here and there. Fireworks in Forest Park and the 2 separate stops for folks coming from the East side and the West side. White and black divided by railcars moving in different directions. I was in Los Angeles, the site of racial riots in 1992, this weekend for the OCA convention when the Mike Brown shooting happened. Picking me up from the airport this weekend there was a police blockade. Now the cops are throwing tear gas bombs in Ferguson and shooting rubber bullets. My AFLCIO coworkers were at the FTAA in Miami in 2003 when they got shot with rubber bullets. They hurt. And actually were moved off the non-lethal list of weaponry. Last night a Walmart was looted and a gas station went up in flames. This is real and this is live. Here’s a good article about why Ferguson, why riots: http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/relationships-and-special-occasions/parenting/aisha-sultan/why-ferguson-burned-explaining-st-louis-area-riot-to-kids/article_725f501f-ba21-538a-acaf-f00221add91d.html

Brown’s own family members have said the destruction in their hometown is salt in their wounds. When peaceful protests turn to a city’s self immolation, there is no justice for anyone. What’s left is a community used to being unheard, roiling in the wake of a deadly police shooting. A powder keg of unemployment and poverty, of neglect and frustration, and those willing to exploit a tragedy for personal gain.

–Caroline

Organizing from love

This is not a political post. Not really.

Back during the Suey Park/ Colbertgate debate, a journalist asked me for my take on it, something that was polarizing the AAPI community. It offered an opportunity for me to reflect on how much I have grown and changed since I was in college, when large scale events like 9/11 and the Iraq War helped form my political voice and identity.

Like many young student activists, I initially found my voice through subtraction or by filling a void. I forged it in opposition because there was so much gratuitous violence and rolling back of liberties in that time. After maybe 5 years out of college, a friend and I were talking about how a whole generation in DC grew up without the benefit of knowing how to navigate the levers of power because the Dems had been out of power for nearly a decade. We only knew how to fight against things, not how to build. There was a lot to fight against, and the struggle could be exhausting. We lost more than we won. I knew it was bad when even John Ashcroft refused to sign the wiretap authorization documents from his hospital bed.

Sometime in the past few years, and somewhere in my many travels across the United States, I gained some grace and some perspective. Whether it was by mentoring younger women, or learning that life holds so many surprises (some sharp, some delightful), I came to find the power in organizing from love. Love binds people who come from different backgrounds together and helps reach across boundaries.

When people hold differing views, I try to see how their life experience has shaped them, and to remember that they have loved ones who they are concerned for – that policies that I support, they might see as unduly impacting their families in a negative way. The positive picture trumps the negative most of the time.

All my work has always been done out of love of and for the community. It’s what my mother has taught me – responsibility to and for our own, however we define it. I have been fortunate to call many cities home, and to be welcomed by many communities. I look forward to connecting people and communities anew. Multiplying opportunities and seeing potential in individuals and organizations has always brought me great joy, and my current blessing is to have a whole new arena in which to roam.

–Caroline

The politics of pilgrimage: Vietnam Veterans War Memorial

VVWM

(Photo from Fischer Art History)

The lines of people angle in, respectfully, along the powerful obsidian walls. Some are here on a pilgrimage and have come armed with light paper and crayons for tracing the names of their loved ones, to bear away some of the memory. Some are tourists from inside and without the homeland, checking off stops on a planned itinerary of historic places. This does not detract from the sacred nature of the place.

I breathe in the smell of earth and listen to the birds chirping brightly on this windy day. Time stops and the field of vision freezes. All there is, is in front of me.

The V of the wall rises like a gash in the earth, and the ground dips slowly like a curtsey, mimicking the descent into the underworld. And all the people follow the trail, with a sharp line dividing the black stone from the green grass and wildflowers that line the top edge. In contrast, families and friends have left bouquets that have withered in the sun, cut off from any source of sustaining nourishment.

In seventh grade, my class took a trip to Washington, D.C. and I brushed my hands along the cold marble wall. The wall transmitted such sadness and I felt the etched names like a mantra. I watched as families clustered in tight blossoms of sorrow around the name of a loved one who had died defending his or her country. At the age of twelve, I was transfixed by the flat shininess and the ghostlike reflections of the visitors in the face of so many names. As if we were the mirrored ghosts, paying our respects to those who had come before.

In the midst of my twelve year old reverie, a lady scolded me, saying “It’s disrespectful to touch the names.” My hand had been tracing etched letters on the wall, feeling the differential between my hot little hand and the somber, polished stone. It had never occurred to me that the memorial was meant for anything but touching.

I take in a deep inhale and exhale, now in my thirty-two year old self. Finding out later, in college, that Maya Lin was twenty when she submitted her design for the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial blind competition, a complete unknown student at Yale, gave me the context of her courage. What she endured was only magnified when you understand that her design was chosen out of 1,421 submissions, including entries by internationally recognized architects.

Lin faced a great deal of controversy, including detractors who thought that it was wrong for a young Chinese American woman to design a memorial for fallen American soldiers of the Vietnam War, that she looked too much like the people who had helped kill our veterans. She wound up having to defend herself and her vision to Congressional inquiry and soldiers who had returned from war. The former Secretary of the Interior even held up the building’s permits in an attempt to get her to change her design. It has since become one of the most cherished and significant memorials. More than a physical replica of soldiers in battle, walking the long wall and watching the names of the fallen rise to a height beyond humanity, and then walking away from the apex, and seeing the names taper is a heart-wrenching journey of finality and closure.
If it cleaves the earth, it is because it is a memorial to one of the most divisive wars of the modern American century. The memorial is magnificent because it is simultaneously the cut, the scar, and the healing. It has taken me twenty years to pin down what resonates about the memorial, and yet, I am always glad to put a name to a visceral feeling.

–Caroline

NYC, Jan 22: Franklin Odo Speech about Japanese immigrants

Editor’s Note: The below is from our friends at NYU APA Studies.



The Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU presents

Voices from the Canefields: FRANKLIN ODO

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
6:30PM

A/P/A Institute at NYU
8 Washington Mews

RSVP to A/P/A by Monday, January 20

Yuko ka Meriken yō
Kaero ka Nihon
Koko ga shian no
Hawai koku
Go on to America
Or return to Japan?
This is our dilemma
Here in Hawai‘i

Through the poetic lyrics of holehole bushi (Japanese folksongs), FRANKLIN ODO (Founding Director, Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Program) traces the experiences of Japanese immigrant plantation sugar workers caught in the global movements of capital, empire, and labor during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. From despair and defiance to love and lust, the sentiments conveyed in the lyrics of holehole bushi illustrate both the evolving local conditions and global context within which the workers, and particularly women workers, found themselves.

We celebrate the publication of Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai‘i with a selection of readings, song, and film.

Co-sponsored by the Japanese American Association of New York, Japanese American National Museum, and Hālāwai.

Franklin Odo retired in January 2010 as founding Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American [APA] Program. He served in that capacity since its inception in 1997. During his tenure, six major exhibitions on Asian Pacific American ethnic groups were created or hosted at the Smithsonian. He was Interim Chief of the Asian Division, Library of Congress in 2011. He has been Director of Research and Education at the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation and a Senior Advisor to the International Student Conferences. He leads a “Theme Study on Asian American Pacific Islanders” for the National Historic Landmarks Project of the National Park System and is Senior Advisor to Densho.

Odo was a professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawai`i and visiting professor of History and American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Hunter College, Princeton, and Columbia Universities in the 1990s. He received an MA in East Asia Regional Studies from Harvard and a PhD in Japanese history from Princeton University.

His book, No Sword to Bury: Japanese Americans in Hawai`i during World War II, was published by Temple University Press in 2004; he edited the Columbia Documentary History of the Asian American Experience, published by Columbia University Press in 2002. His new book of folk songs from Japanese immigrants working on Hawaii’s sugar plantations was published by Oxford University Press in October 2013. These translated lyrics depict the richness of life and work in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, especially among women workers.

Among his awards are the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Asian American Studies, a Distinguished Service Award from the Asian American Justice Center, Leadership Awards from the Japanese American Citizens League and the Organization of Chinese Americans. Odo was appointed Humanist in Residence at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities at Brown University in April 2013.

AAA Fund Endorses Shari Song for King County Council

November 2, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Asian American Action Fund Proudly Endorses Shari Song for King County City Council
Rising Star and Business Leader Seeks to Continue History of Community and Public Service

The Asian American Action Fund, a national Democratic Asian American political action committee, is pleased to endorse Seattle realtor Shari Song for King County City Council. Song is a first time candidate but a longtime community leader with business experience. She has served on the boards of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce and the Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), chaired the Diversity Commission of the City of Federal Way, and most recently was a Member of the Seattle Police Korean Community Advisory Council. Song was awarded the King County Recognition Award for Community Service, and serves as a Director for the Mission Church Learning Center in Federal Way.

Executive Director Gautam Dutta stated, “Shari Song will prioritize improved transportation, promote job creation policies, and focus on public safety. She has a strong track record of leadership in the Asian Pacific American community in King County.”

AAA Fund Endorsements Chair Caroline Fan enthused, “Shari is exactly the kind of candidate who we seek – she is deeply engaged in her community and will work hard for her constituents. She’s built an amazing and broad coalition of support from working families to environmentalists. ”
###

Update: Shari lost by 15%. We commend her campaign’s hard work & enthusiasm!

Living vs dead Chinatowns, gentrification & elections

AALDEF, the NYC based Asian American civil rights organization, has a new report out about the rate of gentrification in Chinatowns in NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia. (I guess DC was just a lost cause.) In conjunction with the discussion of this article, I want to propose the idea of “living” (these three cities, Chicago, San Francisco) versus “dead” Chinatowns (DC.) In my mind, when I walk the streets of a given Chinatown, “living” connotes active engagement and residency by the Chinese American community versus the slick, big box retail feel of Washington, DC Chinatown, which most Chinese Americans fled decades ago for Montgomery County, MD, and Fairfax, VA. The shops in DC Chinatown are adorned in bright signs with Chinese characters, but have very little daily relevance to Chinese or Chinese American culture, such as the skateboard shop, the Ann Taylor, and the Legal Seafood.

It’s a very read-worthy report, and I’ve gone on the walking tour of Boston Chinatown where you can see how highway I-93 literally cuts through the enclave, with a half-sheared building standing mute but providing powerful testimony to interesting municipal planning. The report illuminated that the AAPI population in Boston Chinatown went from 70% in 1990 to 46% in 2010. Philadelphia Chinatown has been encroached upon by developers, and was under threat from a proposed casino for a significant period. NYC Chinatown was at one point overtaking Little Italy, but now with the New Museum and the gentrification of the Bowery, is being pressed upon by towering luxury apartment buildings. Not to mention, Park Row, a residential community adjacent to South Chinatown, and nearby commercial buildings (shops and restaurants) have been under the shadow of 9/11 for 12 years, with limited access for a substantial period of time (9/11 cleanup), depressing retail sales. To this day, there are armed police stations that guard the entrance path to Park Row.

San Francisco Chinatown has managed to thrive due to a high intra-ethnicity turnover rate, and Chicago Chinatown (of which, really, there are 3 – historic Chinatown, “new” Argyle (largely Vietnamese-Chinese American) Chinatown, and “new new” Chinatown, which is across the street from historic Chinatown, and includes a number of residential properties that have lured second and third generation Chinese Americans back to the city center. (There is some small degree of this happening in other cities as well, but in my mind, Chicago has done a better job than most.)

The reason that I keep rotating back to this issue of whether Chinese Americans who have “made it” come back is because it is also a large part of why “living” Chinatowns become essentially “dead” Chinatowns. Moving out of Chinatown and to the suburbs is intrinsically seen as one of the markers of success for first, second, and third generation Chinese Americans. This is antithetical to keeping Chinatowns vibrant. This is separate from biased and discriminatory urban planning decisions hatched in concert with the stereotypically greedy developers. And it absolutely doesn’t discount folks who want to stay but get pushed out – I’m just bringing this up because it’s also a real thing.

Don’t get me wrong – DC Chinatown/Verizon Center is more bustling and lively than a decade ago, and is now an economic engine and one of the hearts of the city, but the business owners by and large do not live there. Although the DC AAPI population has risen 60% since 2000, according to the 2010 Census.

In NYC, the press of developers on the boundaries of Chinatown has caused friends who have lived, breathed, and worked in Chinatown for decades to move to Harlem, where elected officials like City Councilor Melissa Mark-Vivitero have noticed the increase of AAPIs. This follows on a previous out-migration to Queens (Flushing, Woodside, etc.), Brooklyn (where there is another Chinatown), New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, and Connecticut.

So how do we keep the living nature of Chinatowns across the country? The report proposes several solutions: reinforcing and constructing more low-income housing, subsidizing local small businesses, prioritizing green spaces, strengthening the links between satellite Asian Am enclaves in the suburbs to the Chinatown cores, and engaging in dialogue with traditional community land owners like the family associations. All of these are great, and I’m going to a step further.

What I’m fundamentally saying is that keeping Chinatown affordable and full of vitality is partially dependent upon the people in elected office. They hold hearings and have influence over city planning to varying degrees. Former At-Large Boston City Councilor Sam Yoon came out of the fight to keep one Boston Chinatown. Michelle Wu and Suzanne Lee are running for city council in Boston (different seats.) Philadelphia has yet to elect a progressive AAPI city councilmember, whereas SF has a plethora of AAPI electeds (and folks in the pipelines to run when the inevitable term limits hit.) AAAF Greater Chicago helped get Alderman Ameya Pawar, the first AAPI alderman ever in Chicago, elected in 2011. Progress is slow, but steady.

Not that AAPI candidates are necessarily going to be informed about the community’s issues, or even live in the Chinatown district. It is incumbent upon the community and those who work to keep living, breathing Chinatowns to educate candidates and elected officials, regardless of their ethnicity. Because we all need allies and champions in this effort, and sometimes people surprise you.

–Caroline