September 30, 2014

For Rent: Cooking with Curry Not Allowed

Editor’s Note: Welcome K.J. Bagchi to our blogteam! Read his excellent & informative first post “Fisher v. Texas: Exposing a Divided Community” yesterday.

STONEBRIDGE AT BEAR CREEK

Apparently not everyone is a fan of the smell of curry. The Department of Justice has filed suit against a property owner in Texas who is accused of violating the Fair Housing Act by denying housing opportunities to people of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent because she found their odor offensive. According to the suit, the property owner gave instructions to her leasing offices to deny leases to South Asians for many reasons, one of which was the claim that they “left the walls smelling of curry after they moved out…”.

Fisher v. Texas: Exposing a Divided Community

Editor’s Note: Welcome K.J. Bagchi to our blogteam! K.J. Bagchi is currently a Legislative Counsel at the Council of the District of Columbia. He’s been active in the South Asian community during since his undergraduate years at UC Davis where was a writer for a campus-based South Asian focused publication, Awaaz, and during law school at the Seattle University School of Law where he was a board member of the South Asian Law Student Association. He looks forward to writing about issues that effect our community with an emphasis on younger generations in the APA community.

Students UCLA, Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

On October 10, 2012, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in Fisher v. Texas, a case that could be critical to determining what role race will play in the admissions policies of public universities. The case came before the Court after two white college applicants were denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin. The women contend that their race played a factor in the denial because of UT’s admissions policy of considering race as one of many factors in determining who is admitted.

Many national groups whose focus includes representing the best interests of certain racial minority groups or racial minority groups in general submitted amicus briefs in support of UT’s affirmative action policy. These groups included the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Organization for Mexican American Rights, Inc., Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). However, among the organizations that submitted briefs arguing for an end to UT’s affirmative action admissions policies, only one organization was founded specifically to protect and promote the civil rights of an ethnic minority group. That organization was the Asian American Legal Foundation (AALF).

Reading through the briefs on both sides of the case from the organizations representing the interests of the Asian Pacific American community, the distinct illustrations each side draws about the effects of abolishing affirmative action in admissions policies is unambiguously clear. Interestingly enough, the brunt of the arguments from each side do not focus on the effects of affirmative action on society in general, but specifically on the APA community itself. While AALF argues that affirmative action policies disadvantage APA applicants in the long-run and points to data to cement their point, AALDEF retorts AALF‘s claims directly by stating that UT’s individualized review allows for the consideration of many other indicators of a disadvantaged background that benefit subgroups that are frequently hidden by the aggregation of data into a single “Asian” category. AALDEF also cites supportive statistics.

Some have argued that diversity of thought within any group indicates growth. The fact that arguments on racial policies will no longer circulate only around considering the effects on white versus non-white populations shows that the APA community is beginning to change how policy effects on a populous will be analyzed. In due time, nine justices on the high court will determine which APA organization’s arguments contain more persuasive substance, ultimately effecting APA public university applicants all around the country.

— K.J. Bagchi

White House Initiative On Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Comes To Houston On February 23

On Saturday, February 23rd, the Texas Asian American & Pacific Islander community and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders invite you to attend the Texas Regional Conference at the University of Houston‘s main campus. This free, first-of-its-kind conference will be a unique and valuable opportunity for the Texas AAPI community to interface with the White House and federal agencies to learn about federal programs and potential policy developments, leverage resources, develop solutions to address AAPI concerns, and bring together people from all across Texas together to collaborate on empowering our community.

In addition to connecting with federal resources, this is an opportunity for community members and leaders throughout the entire state to gather in one place and discuss ways to collaborate, share resources, and maintain communication.

The morning will feature speakers including Kiran Ahuja, the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders, and a keynote from Chris Lu, Cabinet Secretary and Special Adviser to President Obama. Lunch will be provided (vegetarian options included), followed by breakout sessions addressing specific topics, including Economic Development, Healthcare, Civil Rights, Immigration, Education, Housing, Senior Issues (Social Security, Medicare, housing, etc.), Labor/Employment, and more. These breakout sessions will feature staff from local federal agency offices that can help directly address specific issues or problems, as well as featured local speakers from the community. The agencies will also provide information on federal job and internship opportunities for students.

Participation is free and open, but online registration is required.

Candidate Forum For Asian American Voters In Harris County

Our friends at OCA Greater Houston are sponsoring a Candidate Forum for Asian American Voters with Houston 80-20 and cosponsors Asian American Democrats of Texas, Bangladesh Association, Houston, Boat People SOS, Emerge – USA, Pakistan Chamber of Commerce, Texas Muslim Democratic Caucus, and Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce at Chinese Community Center, 9800 Town Park, Houston, Texas, 77035. on Monday, October 8, 2012 from 6:30PM to 8:30PM. Dinner will be provided!


View Larger Map

Gene Wu (D) and MJ Khan (R), candidates for State House District 137 will attend, as will Vy Nguyen (D) and Dianne Williams (R), candidates for State House District 149.

An Indian, A Texan, And A Democrat Go To Charlotte

When I first realized I was going to the Democratic National Convention, I was beyond ecstatic. It was my first convention, so naturally I wanted to make the most of it. Every day I got to go to a different event, attend another party, and meet some great new people.

I started my convention experience by attending the AAPI Caucus meeting. There, I heard from Asian-American leaders from around the country, including a panel introduced by Governor Neil Abercrombie featuring Tammy Duckworth, Tulsi Gabbard, and Mike Fong. My takeaway from that session is that minorities are going to be a force to be reckoned with in 2012. Honestly, that was the theme I witnessed the entire convention. And those of us privileged enough to be Texans felt a personal connection to that particular theme.

For the first time in history, we witnessed a Latino deliver the keynote address at a major party convention. Mayor Julian Castro’s speech was the perfect balance of inspiration and fight, but what really resonated with me was what he represented. His story is America’s story — a family who moved to America in search for a better life, who worked tirelessly to achieve the American dream, who live up to the ideal of America as a mosaic of race and religion, where hard work and smarts are rewarded, regardless of where they may have come from.

His story resonates with me, and in today’s ever-changing America, it resonates with so many others. His selection shows that Democrats are ready to embrace this new era; while at the Republican convention, we were lucky to see any minorities in the crowd. Of course, there is no reason they would be there. While Democrats are showcasing this new generation of minority leaders, the Republicans are doing everything in their power to make sure we can’t even exercise our most basic democratic right.

The rest of the convention did not disappoint. The speeches by Michelle Obama and President Clinton were two of the best speeches I have ever heard, and seeing President Obama speak in person for the first time was as amazing as I imagined. This convention proved to me that minorities are the future of the party and this country. Both parties have made their decision on how they want to handle the future, and after this convention, I know I picked the right party.

The magic of Barack Obama as President of the United States has not faded. The enthusiasm and passion have not faded. The ability of so many Americans to relate to him has not faded. I got to see it first hand: Democrats are fired up, and ready to go!

– Palak Gosar

Tuesday In Texas

From a “nationally known Republican consultant,” according to Paul Burka

If Ted Cruz wins the Senate race, Texas will be a purple state in four years.

Polls just closed here in Texas for the runoffs. At 6:52 PM, according to Miya ShayKTRK reporter and Gene Wu’s fiancée — many voters were still in line at the West Gray Metropolitan Municipal Service Center. The line is expected to take 90 minutes to work its way to the voting machines: Ted Oberg, also of KTRK, reports nearly no drop off in turnout among Republican voters between the primary in May and today’s runoff. Kuff wonders wonders if the election day results matter when the races are essentially decided during the early vote period.

Wu, as I’ve mentioned once or twice. He leads the early vote + mail 449 to 214 (68 to 32). Feel free to try to figure out those votes based on turnout. If Wu is victorious, he will face M.J. Khan, meaning Texas will have another Asian American in the State House.

The federal race to watch — results here — is the Republican primary for US Senate between a teabagger and a might-as-well-be-a-teabagger , which saw $13 million in Super PAC spending.

Katherine Haenschen ponders the possible outcome of the race:

Personally, I’ve debated internally for months over who I’d rather see win the primary, and likely take the seat in November. Dewhurst is less crazy, more grounded in what passes for factual evidence in the Republican Party of Texas these days. He’d be less embarrassing to our state in the US Senate. He’s more of a “statesman,” though at times his campaign has behaved so very irresponsibly that he should be blushing every time that ad about driving a young man to suicide airs on the TV.

A Cruz victory, on the other hand, would make soon-to-be senior Senator John Cornyn irrelevant, since Cruz could steal the limelight from Big John’s thinly-veiled flailing racism with his out-and-out 100% capital-C Crazy. A Cruz win would also keep Dewhurst in the pink dome presiding over the Senate, a welcome relief from the likely ascension of Senator Dan Patrick, who might gladly help pass a law requiring actual chastity belts given the make-up of the incoming Senate next year. Cruz would be only 1 of 100 in the US Senate and has absolutely zero governing experience. It’s unlikely he could get much done. Both of them would have near-identical voting records. And Cruz might be easier to knock out in 6 years if demographics and revitalized TDP organizing actually come to fruition. And maybe, just maybe, a Cruz win would scare moderates and corporate Republicans into recognizing what the Tea Party truly has wrought here in Texas.

I’m undecided on who I would prefer to see win. Ted Cruz is the teabagger in the race, and he has some disgusting support.

Dewhurst really has no accomplishments to speak of, as Burka rightly notes

It is unfortunate that Dewhurst is cast in the role of defender of the faith. The poor guy has nothing to offer except snuggling up to Rick Perry. He has been in office for ten years and has little to show for it except a decade of toadying to the governor. I can’t think of a single achievement Dewhurst can claim while in office that isn’t also a Perry achievement. Well, the property tax cut of 05-06 was driven by the lieutenant governor’s office. The problem with Dewhurst isn’t that he doesn’t get what is going on. He gets it. It’s that he doesn’t have the political will to do something about it. Hence, the about-face on using the Rainy Day Fund last session, after which angry senators told me on the Senate floor that if there had been a vote of confidence on Dewhurst, the tally would have been 31-0 against.

Maybe that’s why when Dewhurst uses three words to summarize himself he uses

  • Conservative
  • Texas
  • Results

“Results” is a good summary word. “Conservative” isn’t really one when running in a Republican primary, especially in Texas. And “Texas?” Do voters forget what state they’re in? Why would you waste a word on that? It’s even more shocking in the commercial. I would embed it here, but the Dewhurst campaign has set that YouTube video to private.

If you want another money quote on the race, look no further:

Make no mistake: the future of the Republican party is on the line in the Senate race. This is a “For Whom the Bell Tolls” moment. If Cruz wins, it means that powerful Washington interests with the ability to spend far more than our home-state politicians and sugar daddys, are poised to insert themselves into Texas politics and change its course. Even Perry understands this, which is why he is all-in for Dewhurst. What is going to stop the tea party and its deep-pockets national backers from taking over Texas politics with money that comes from outside the state? What is to stop them from uniting behind another Ted Cruz-like candidate to defeat Rick Perry’s bid for reelection. This is exactly what has happened in the Senate race, and it will continue to happen in future race.

For more on the race, take a look at the Houston Chronicle, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, this great discussion from NPR’s Talk of the Nation including UT professor Bruce Buchanan or the New York Times, which highlights Cruz’s star, Jonathan Krohnesque qualities:

Mr. Cruz expresses pride in his father for making it after fleeing Cuba with nothing in the 1950s, before Fidel Castro’s victory. He was recognized early as a prodigy, paid to give erudite speeches on free enterprise and Constitutional limits while still in high school.

At Princeton University he was a champion debater. He won high honors at Harvard Law and clerked for William H. Rehnquist, then the chief justice of the Supreme Court. He worked in a Washington law firm and then took federal posts in the administration of George W. Bush before returning to Texas for the appointed job of solicitor general, arguing cases before the Supreme Court.

But do the Republicans want Hispanics? Burka doesn’t seem to think so:

There is another aspect to the Dewhurst-Cruz battle, and it is the tendency of the mainstream Republicans to fail to act in their own best interests. It is stunning to me that Greg Abbott continues to harass Hispanics with Voter I.D. and purging the voter rolls: that he can’t see the damage it is doing to the party’s future. He is willing to trade long-term political gain for his party in return for short-term political gain for himself.

The tea party is an immediate threat but not a long-term one; it is a one-generation phenomenon, the last gasp of old angry uninformed white guys. Hispanics are a different story; they represent the future and without them the Republicans have no future. Does it change anyone’s thinking? Apparently not.

If anyone is looking for a Hispanic rising star, Ted Cruz isn’t the one. No, that rising star is Julian Castro, who will deliver the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Remember what Obama said about Texas becoming a swing state? That may well involve Castro in a statewide race.

There’s also a Democratic primary runoff for US Senate between two off candidates. KTRK has an excellent story on the combined patheticness of the candidates:

We did reach out to both campaigns for comment today, but did not get a response from either.

Campaigns that don’t jump at the chance for free media attention in the largest city in the state are . . . well, what’s a stronger word than pathetic? Sadler doesn’t seem to have a campaign but should, and no one really knows what this Yarbrough guy is about. KT has more. I hope Sadler is using this round as a come back so he can have an effective races for one of the state-level statewide offices in 2014.

The Democratic Party, both in Texas and nationally, needs rising stars like Wu and Castro.

And for anyone who read this post because they thought this post was about the November 1991 WWF Pay-Per-View “This Tuesday In Texas,” enjoy Bret Hart applying the Sharpshooter to retain the Intercontinental Title:

– Justin

Blaming the Asian, Blaming Jeremy Lin

Just last week it was the news heard around the world- Jeremy Lin is no longer a New York Knick. Many people don’t know the whole story, or simply just don’t seem to care why he left the mecca of professional basketball with one of the largest Asian-American populations in the world. There are plenty of articles out there detailing his departure from New York.  Here is an accurate one.

The Knicks have repeatedly stated they let Lin go for financial reasons, but in this article here, it makes a compelling point that Knicks owner James Dolan felt betrayed that the Jeremy would go out and explore other options like he did. It befuddles me that a billionaire could feel blindsided by a young up-and-coming basketball player trying to seek the best deal to provide for him and his family. Let’s face it-it wasn’t about the money; Dolan could pay for anything (see Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler’s contracts). It was all personal.

The team really never had Lin’s back during this process. Carmelo called Lin’s contract ridiculous and J.R. Smith stated he was skeptical. It’s clear the whole team felt like pointing the finger and blaming the Asian, blaming Jeremy.

Of course they would. Dolan’s not going to point the finger at himself. And if anyone has watched Jeremy play with Carmelo, the two never really meshed, so of course Carmelo would blame Lin for his so called egregious contract. And of course, Lin is an Asian Harvard grad. Nobody from the Knicks front office thought this humble, classy, good-willed Asian would  speak up and actively pursue a better contract or sought a team that would pay him more. Well they were dead wrong. Nobody from the Knicks front office thought this Asian was so powerful.

How are you going to fault someone that wants to have the best opportunity for himself and provide for family?

– Thomas Tsang

I’ll Take Texas State House District 137 For The Wu

Ed. Note: Asian American Action Fund has made no endorsements in the Texas Democratic Primary Runoffs

In May I strongly encouraged support for Gene Wu. That support succeeded, putting Wu in a strong first place going into the runoff.


Joseph Carlos Madden 387 21.85%
Gene Wu 768 43.37%
Jamaal Smith 425 24.00%
Sarah Winkler 191 10.78%

Those vote totals look unpleasantly low. 4% turnout surprised me given that the primary lacked a high-profile race and was in May instead of March. Here’s the results by precinct in map form thanks to Greg Wythe:


View HD137 – Gene 1st Round in a larger map

Basically, the colors go Blue for Wu; Green for Smith; and Orange for Madden. Winkler didn’t carry any precincts. Darker shades represent majorities. Medium shades denote 40% and above. Lighter shades denote smaller pluralities.

Wu has endorsements from community leaders including Hubert Vo, Melissa Noriega, Sylvia Garcia, Chris Bell, Carol Alvarado, Peter Brown, Sue Lovell, and Michael Skelly. Wu’s opponent received the Chronicle’s endorsement. I feel the Chronicle was short-sighted; Wu has nearly all the qualifications the Chronicle likes in Smith and then some. The Chronicle’s endorsement, however, is likely worth less in this State House district then its average value in Greater Houston.

If Wu can turn out the same voters — including lots of voters Smith could never hope to reach — and capture a decent chunk of the Madden and Winkler supporters who bother to come out again, he’ll have the nomination. Whoever has the Democratic nomination is expected to become the next representative for HD 137.

If you’re not able to vote for Gene Wu, I hope you’re willing to contribute for his race to become the first Democratic Chinese American Texas State Representative. He impressed a lot of people who ran across him during the Texas Democratic Party Convention last month. Federal snobs, keep an eye on him; I don’t think Austin will be his final stop.

Early voting started yesterday with 199 voting in the three early voting locations closest to HD137. Early voting runs through Friday, July 27 (7AM to 7PM each day) and election day is Tuesday, July 31. On election day, a voter must vote in his or her precinct. During early voting, a voter may vote at any of these locations in Harris County:

Go vote and, if you live in Texas House District 137, vote Wu.

– Justin Gillenwater

Which One Is The Teabagger, Again?

A lot of money has been pumped into the Texas Republican primary runoff for US Senate between David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz, who are joining tonight for a debate hosted by a vote suppression organization.

Ted Cruz is the teabagger candidate, but you wouldn’t know it from Dewhurt’s ads, whose theme seems to be “Turbans and Chinese people, oh my!

Who does Dewhurst say are “overrunning Texas ranchers?”

Now it’s international gangs and people from the Middle East and China

Keeping out people from China? That was the original reason for the border patrol!

– Justin Gillenwater

Houston, We Have Linsanity

As Richard mentioned when the news became official, Jeremy Lin is a Houston Rocket.

The Rockets have been trying to figure how to get Lin back since his incredible starting run with the Knicks in February of this year like a boyfriend who regrets breaking up with his girl so much after seeing her with another lover that he presents her with a $25 million engagement ring seven months later. Clearly it worked.

Lin is an incredible player with the potential to be an all-time great. His excellence start legitimately puts him in the same breath for comparisons with the likes of Michael Jordan. And Lin is nearly certain to dazzle when the Rockets host the 2013 All-Star Game. If, however, Lin wants a ring, the Rockets still need to find a center at the very least.

What’s more — and more from me about Lin is what what you’ll find in the links from this paragraph and the next — Lin is a classy guy, it’s good he got away from a team that isn’t. Many question if Lin$anity will endure in Houston, which puzzles me.

As Houston welcomes Lin, it’s critical to remember while his international marketability is similar to Yao Ming, they are very different people; Yao Ming’s story would not be as interesting as Jeremy Lin’s.

Phil, Jen and Diana, I’d be glad to take you to a game. Sadly, the game won’t include this

– Justin Gillenwater