Are we better off than four years ago? Part 1

Mitt Romney asked this question during his acceptance of the Republican nomination for President.  The answer is a resounding “yes” for Asian Americans who are concerned about discrimination, inclusion and access to government funding, technical assistance and support for the community.

As someone who has worked with four Presidential administrations over the past 20 years, I can tell you that Asian Americans have made more progress in the last four years under President Obama than we did in the previous eight years under President Bush. Of course Asian Americans, like other Americans, were badly hit by the collapse of the economy under President Bush’s watch.  But President Obama’s policies stemmed the free fall, and unemployment rates for Asian Americans have begun to improve. Continue reading »

Are Asian Americans Finally Breaking Television Glass Ceiling?

Finally, a prime television program starring an Asian American airs on a major network.  The Mindy Project starring The Office’s Mindy Kaling is set to air on FOX this September.   There has not been a network show led by an Asian American since Margaret Cho’s landmark All American Girl aired on ABC in 1994.  A situation comedy, it focuses on Mindy as a Dr. who also is single and trying to find romance.  It is produced in NBC Universal Studios.  To get an advance preview, check the pilot out here.

In addition, TBS has already launched Sullivan & Son starring Steve Byrne.  Byrne co-produces the show with a former executive producer of Cheers.  The show like Cheers is set in a Pittsburgh bar with Steve as the son of an Irish American father and Korean immigrant mother.  Unlike Cheers, the bar showcases a diverse neighborhood.   Sullivan & Son goes out of its way to gently mock racism and ethnic stereotyping. Continue reading »

Mazie for Senate

Next year, Congress will be making critical decisions about government funding for education, job training, housing, health care, social security, youth and senior centers and civil rights enforcement.   Congress will also be taking up immigration, racial profiling, workforce investment and no child left behind. These policy choices will have a disproportionate impact on Asian Americans and their families.

So it is exciting that we have a historic number of Asian Americans running for Congress who have a good chance of winning in November.  There is Mark Takano, a High School teacher who is running for Congress in Riverside, California and Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who is running for Congress in the Chicago suburbs against an infamous tea party freshman in Congress.

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The Asian American Vote in 2012


For years I have felt like the boy who cried “wolf” – you know, the fable where a bored boy cries wolf to get attention but there is no wolf – so when a wolf appears, no one believes him.  For several election cycles, I’ve been running around saying “you need to pay attention to Asian American voters,” and been treated by candidates and their parties as with a big yawn.

In part it is because our community has been dismissed as one whose relatively small numbers are further diminished by the significant number of immigrants not yet citizens.  What has been missed is how fast our population has grown – particularly in some of the swing states that have not been traditional gateways.  For example, Asian Americans are now almost 10% of Nevada’s population.   According to the census, 22 states now have Asian American populations of 225,000 or greater.

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Stealing Elections the New Old Fashioned Way

Voter registration and voting is not automatic or required.  Even four years ago in the excitement over the election of the first minority to the Presidency, voter turn-out was only 63%.  And this was in the wake of increased access to early voting, extended hours and access to absentee ballots.

Yet rather than focusing on further removing barriers to voting which can be particularly intimidating for new voters, college students and low wage workers who can’t get off from work to vote, Conservatives are gaming an already dysfunctional system.   A new report, Laws Against Voting: State Statutes that Restrict Participation in 2012, by Project Vote outlines all the laws that are making it even harder to register or stay registered to vote or to cast a ballot on election day.   Ridiculous new laws have passed particularly in the states expected to play critical roles in the upcoming presidential and congressional elections.  This is being played out in dozens of states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Florida with heinous voter ID and other restrictive new laws.

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