Committee of 100 Urges Greater Asian American Civic Engagement in 2020
As a new year and decade begin, Asian Americans are participating in politics and civil society like never before. The Committee of 100 (C100) calls on all Asian Americans to seize this historic moment to stand up, speak out, and exercise their rights as American citizens to participate in the political process as responsible members of the community, so that we can live up to the ideals of this great nation.
The 2020 Democratic primaries have featured for the first time three Asian American and Pacific Islanders (Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, and Andrew Yang) running for the highest office in the land, a fact that the Asian American community and all who value diversity and inclusivity can proudly celebrate. However, in recent months, there has been considerable criticism of the mainstream media by many Asian Americans for ignoring Andrew Yang in its coverage, from Yang consistently getting the least amount of debate speaking time despite polling higher than many of the other candidates on stage, to being mentioned in the media fewer times than other lower-polling candidates, and repeatedly misidentified by name and with the wrong photo.
These slights by the media have angered many in the Asian American community, resonating painfully with those who see in Andrew Yang’s media marginalization a reflection of their own invisibility and limited success, from business executive positions, corporate boardrooms, and university leadership to media newsrooms, the debate stage and the silver screen. Despite their hard work and best efforts to be considered on their own merits and to be given nothing more than the same fair and equal shot as the next person, it is disheartening and infuriating when powerful institutions such as the media continue to perpetuate that invisibility, intentionally or not.
As guardians of fairness and equal treatment, the media has an obligation to the communities it serves to present the news in as neutral and unbiased a way as possible, and to conduct their research and reporting with the highest of professional standards. Recognizing their great power in shaping opinions, C100 calls on the media to exercise their responsibilities with extra due diligence, fairness, and sensitivity going forward.
In addition to pointing out bias and unequal treatment, Asian Americans have several opportunities this year to take further impactful action to counter our invisibility. For starters, C100 urges all Asian Americans to participate in the political process by voting, from the primaries all the way through the general election, regardless of which party or candidate you support. Although Asian Americans are the nation’s fastest growing ethnic group, we remain politically overlooked because our share of the electorate is not commensurate with our increasing population in this country. Voting is the surest way to assert our presence. Many people struggled and sacrificed so that we may have this right to vote. Let us fully appreciate and embrace our equal status, and then couple this right with the responsibility of increased civic and political engagement, whether it is in voting, registering voters, volunteering for a campaign, or even running for office ourselves.
Another way for Asian Americans to become more visible is to participate and be counted in the 2020 U.S. Census. An accurate count will also help states and counties provide the required voter language assistance in accordance with the Voting Rights Act. An under-count will result in Asian American communities being underrepresented and underfunded, and will only continue to marginalize and disenfranchise Asian Americans not only in politics, public policy, and government, but also economically.
In the last half century, Asian Americans have gone from silent and invisible to slowly but surely finding our voice and political power, but our work is just beginning. In all areas of American life, Asian Americans have to continue to fight biases, speak out against injustices and unfair treatment, and show up and forge new paths for others to follow. May 2020 be the year that unleashes the full visibility, strength and power of the Asian American community as voting and engaged citizens of this great country.
About Committee of 100
The Committee of 100 is a non-partisan leadership organization of prominent Chinese Americans in business, government, academia, and the arts; it does not support or oppose candidates for political office. Since its founding in 1990, the Committee has been committed to a dual mission of promoting the full participation of Chinese Americans in all fields of American life, and encouraging constructive relations between the peoples of the United States and Greater China. www.committee100.org