Congrats, Comptroller Liu

This is slightly late, but a belated congratulations to former City Council Member John C. Liu, who was recently sworn in as New York City Comptroller. Liu was previously the first elected Asian American City Council member in New York, and now is the first Asian American elected to citywide office: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/02/nyregion/02liu.html.

This honor is not the only reason why this victory is so momentous; Liu’s victory was made possible by the political mobilization of New York City’s Asian American community, who came to the polls in unprecedented numbers. According to a poll by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, 90% of surveyed Asian voters voted for Liu, including the overwhelming majority of Chinese, South Asian, and Korean voters.

This is of course an excellent indication of the Asian American community’s growing political power on BOTH the East and West Coasts; note that in the above article, Korean community leader John Y. Park lauds Liu as a “model for new immigrants,” noting the formerly politically insular nature of the Korean community. Nonetheless, given the administration’s recent history of neglect towards the Asian community’s needs (such as the ongoing sale and gentrification of Chinatown, Sunset Park, and other Asian  American enclaves) and the fact that even the campaign for this historic election was marred by racial harassment (see http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/queens/item_j5MUYWkKXvRolfkW1ZTXUL),  it is important to keep Liu accountable to his community, especially given his influential position. We voted for Liu in confidence that he would continue working as an advocate for Asian American interests and not become a racial mouthpiece for policies detrimental to our community, as tends to happen. Nonetheless, given Liu’s history of service, I’m quite sure he’ll do a great job.

Anyways, congratulations, Comptroller Liu. It’s good to be home.

Congrats to newly elected Mayor Evan Low

Yesterday Campbell, California made history by electing the youngest mayor in the United States. Evan Low is a 26 year old, openly gay Chinese American. He successfully garnered enough votes from area that is 70% white, 11% Asian, and holds a relatively quiet gay community. He’s been supported by the likes of Mike Honda and Mark Leno. EPIC, much?! Make us proud, Evan.

Judy Chu pretty close to winning 32nd District of California

More Asian Americans in politics! The 32nd District is actually really close to where I live, so while I’m down here in Southern California for the summer, it’s hard not to miss the “CHU” signs. Although I know I promised more blog posts, summer seems also equally busy. In any case, I just wanted to put out there that if Judy Chu wins, she’d be the first Asian American in the House for Southern California. Sweet! The area which she represents does seem to have a sizeable Asian American population to represent, so it’d be great to have her perspectives in the House.

She’ll have to face a runoff, though, but it seems like she’s got a pretty strong base of supporters to push her towards victory. We’ll see how it turns out in July. If you guys are registered to vote in this area, don’t forget to vote in the general election!

Apparently, Asians are just too much for Americans.

I don’t even know where to start with this.

In case you can’t access the link, here’s the recap of the article.

A rep from the Organization of Chinese Americans spoke at a House testimony on voter registration about the difficulty some Asian Americans have during voting “because they may have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is used on their driver’s license on school registrations.”

Republican Betty Brown from Texas responded, “Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?”

People called her out making racist, ignorant statements, and of course, her spokesman says this is just being blown out of proportion.

Okay. Let’s forget how messed up (and freaking racist) her statements are for a second and just enjoy how purely stupid this whole thing is.

Who are these Americans she’s referring to? The whole issue is on VOTING. You must be an American citizen to vote. Every last person in the Organization of Chinese AMERICANS is an American. When Brown suggests that Asian Americans “adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with” and refers to the OCA as “you [the rep] and your citizens,” she’s making a distinction between Chinese Americans and Americans.
Chinese Americans are Americans.

This is a bit tangential, but still relevant. Up until this year, I used to be wary of calling things racist. Especially as an Asian American Studies major, I didn’t want to be seen one of those people who see racism everywhere – from tv shows to textbooks to the bottom of my coffee mug. So I would use phrases like “poor lack of judgement” or “unfortunate choice of words” or “momentary lapses of sanity and reason.”

I’m done with that. This year, I’m calling them like I see it. Remember kids, “racist” is not a bad word, it just refers to bad people.

Gary Locke Nominated for Commerce Secretary

If people didn’t know already, Obama elected his third Asian American to his cabinet. Commerce Secretary-designate Gary Locke can be best known amongst our population as the first Asian American elected governor of a state (Washington). However, my celebratory mood was short-lived as soon as I read this article:

“Locke’s China work complicates bid.”

What the freak, so it’s an “ethics issue” if Locke is elected as Secretary because of his ties to China?? It seems like the wounds of the 1996 Clinton finance scandal have not healed completely. This pisses me off:

“Yet if he’s confirmed as commerce secretary, Chinese trade issues – including some with direct impact on the companies he went to bat for – are likely to be high on the agenda for Locke, who is the first Chinese-American governor.”

I can understand why there’s this heightened sensitivity to potential corruption for Secretary nominations due to the huge blundering of the former cabinet appointees and their ridiculous tax mishaps, but I’m fed up with the idea that Asian Americans can’t be trusted into political positions merely because we’re perceived as foreigners.

Would such suspicion of loyalty to America occur if the person nominated were not Asian American? That’s messed up.

FINALLY.

We know we’re pretty late in reporting on this, but DANG, did you guys check out the Inauguration? Actually, I woke up late and had to watch it on youtube. But wow. All botch-ups aside, that was a pretty sweet ceremony. Especially the speech, which illustrated another form of Obama and his 27-year-old speech writer’s brilliant rhetoric.

A riveting point:

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

It’s encouraging to hear the new president talk about individual responsibility and the importance of every member of society to internalize those American values. Whereas we elect the people in government to do the work of organizing and managing people’s lives, they are merely extensions of us. You can’t be apathetic about politics, especially in this time! With our tumbling economy, a promise of policy upheavals and changes, and a shifting political ideology of the country… it’s silly to think that you can just happily go through your day to day life ignorant of what goes on in Washington DC.

So for all our folks out there reading this blog: Pick up the newspaper. Start a dialogue. Do something. Don’t you dare be indifferent.

This Makes Me Happy

Inside the Transition: Asian American and Pacific Islander Groups

Frankly, I’ve been kinda overwhelmed with way Obama and his transition team have been deluging Youtube, but I finally decided to sit down and watch this one since it was so pertinent. Of course, there are other racial groups discussed by the administration in other videos, but this related the most to hardboiled‘s mission. It’s good to know that despite the drama-rama around figuring out a adequate stimulus package and getting all your cabby members sworn in that diversity is not something to be swept off the plate.

It’s also a relief because this guy sounds like he knows his shit. Sure, this is basic ASAM 20A information, but that’s a big step up from other politicians who generalize Asian American interests as the general “immigrant story.” Good to know Obama’s hiring competent hirer-ups to deal with matters of diversity.

Though I could be totally biased and drawn in by propaganda-esqe video-making, but you have to admit: bringing in such a diverse group of Asian Americans into one room to discuss things that the APA community is concerned about is really encouraging.

Countdown to Official Obama Presidency: 4 days. D-d-daaaaang!! Who’s excited??