Former Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang rallied Asian Americans to vote against Donald Trump in what he said could be a political gamechanger for the often overlooked community.
“If we get out in force and help Joe and Kamala win, this could be the major political awakening that Asian Americans have been waiting for a generation or more,” Yang said Monday night in a virtual fundraiser for Asian Americans Against Trump.
Yang was joined by prominent Asian American leaders and public figures, including Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna and Grace Meng, Lost actor Daniel Dae Kim, Pachinko author Min Jin Lee.
The American entrepreneur said Asian Americans have been “forced to become more engaged” politically as they continue to suffer attacks from the “hostility” targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community during the coronavirus pandemic. Many Asian Americans have been vulnerable to racist attacks, as President Donald Trump has used misleading and racist terms to describe the virus which experts said exacerbates microaggressions targeting the AAPI community.
Yang said engaging with politics is a “non-choice” and an obligation for AAPI voters.
“We have to roll our sleeves up and do things we have not done as a community as high of a level as, frankly, people in other communities,” Yang said.
“Our community can be the margin of victory and help elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, our first Asian-American and Black woman vice president,” NY Rep. Meng said. Asian American voters are the fastest-growing voting bloc with over 11 million eligible voters.
California Rep. Khanna warned that “anyone who thinks this election is not going to be very close, [is] underestimating Donald Trump’s power to do everything possible to win. He’s frankly mobilizing the power of the US government on behalf of his campaign” and told Asian American voters that “the only way we overcome that is by a massive turnout.”
But to mobilize Asian American voters, the AAPI community must actively dispel the model minority myth, which is “used by leaders to either be a wedge against other people of color or they are being used as some sort of pestilence,” Lee said.
Stereotyping Asian Americans as educated and hard-working, the model minority myth limits Asian Americans as people who are perfectly suited to be led, but not necessarily lead themselves. At the same time, the model minority myth does not capture the challenges that Asian Americans face and paints them under a monolithic narrative that is used as a wedge to pit them against other minorities.
“We still are in that place where we are expected to be the model minority, we are expected to be the ones who work hard, do really great work but never be the leaders,” Kim said. “If we can get the message out to other Asian Americans to have a say and a stake in the country where we live — we will be much more respected, much more powerful, and much more considered when it comes to the politics of our country.”