We all experience love and loss in our own way. Sometimes we are ready for it and other times they creep on us when we least expect it. This past week saw a series of highs and lows for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) on Capitol Hill.
As community members were still mourning the death of former U.S. Senator Akaka, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth’s newborn Maile took her first breath of life on April 9. Sen. Duckworth gave a touching statement about Sen. Akaka helping to name both of her daughters.
We are deeply saddened by the loss of Sen. Akaka, the first Native Hawaiian in Congress, who is survived by his wife and children.
We thank him for bringing the Aloha spirit to Washington, D.C., and representing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community at a time when a handful of AAPIs served in U.S. Congress. He was also part of the initial team that fought for the passage of benefits for Filipino World War II veterans.
Lessons about voting jump off textbook page at AP Government class in Ohio
Executive Director Christine Chen spent Friday presenting at five AP Government classes on the historical struggle for people of color to secure voting rights and how we can protect the vote of AAPIs at Upper Arlington High School in Ohio.
Student Olivia Wang first learned the process of voting is difficult in immigrant communities because of language barriers, which had not crossed her mind prior to that day. "I have spoken English all my life," Wang told APIAVote. "I am privileged enough to live in a country where my first language is the prominent language."
Betsy Sidor, the AP Government teacher, observed that her students had many questions about the importance of election protection.
Chen made the lessons Ms. Sidor taught from the textbook jump off the page for the students.
"Christine challenged us to open our minds to the world very different than our comfortable suburbia and suggested that we could choose to do something about the injustices we previously ignored," Sidor said.
The untapped potential of Asian voters
Saahil Desai reports on how Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are building electoral power in communities from Virginia to North Carolina in the spring issue of Washington Monthly. AAPIs are poised to vote in high numbers for the 2018 elections with the help of nonpartisan organizations like APIAVote.
“We teach everything from voter registration to get-out-the-vote to electoral protections,” Christine Chen, APIAVote's executive director, told Washington Monthly. “Basically, how to engage an AAPI voter—it’s different for Hmong voters in Minnesota versus Filipinos in Nevada.”
Last week, APIAVote made a stop in Columbus, Ohio, to hold a Norman Y. Mineta Leadership Institute training with ASIA Inc. and Ohio Asian American Health Coalition.
Incoming college student Brandon Liu shared why he is volunteering to get out the vote in his Ohio Asian American community.
“I’m interested in being more politically active. I really enjoy studying history, following politics in the news. In today’s conversation, many of my Asian American peers don’t feel their views are that important, but in any democracy it’s crucial to vote and exercise that right," Liu told APIAVote.
He learned that 49 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are registered to vote at the training, which felt shocking to him. "It is exciting in one way because it’s a very actionable thing to start on because like the trainers said it’s the entry ticket to the ballot,” he said.