Asian-Americans & Civic Engagement

Introduction to the NAAAP event.

Last night, I went to my first NAAAP-Colorado event about civic engagement and how we Asian-Americans should get involved into politics somehow. One of the speakers, Sam Thomas, told us how we should all rally around a cause that is near and dear to each of us; we don’t have to side with any political party. We just need to reach out and be heard.

Even though the event was held at Katie Mullen’s with lots of distractions around, I got fired up listening to Mr. Thomas. I was reminded at this point how, back in late April, I had a colleague tell me, “You should really lobby the government about job opportunities for foreign nationals.” I had never thought of involving myself in politics until that point. Immediately I imagined myself speaking in front of Congress about my cause–advancing security for foreign nationals who are legally here in the US to work, study, etc.

One thing Mr. Thomas said to us all last night especially hit a chord inside:

“I stay involved in politics because I know those who came before me had to fight to get that seat at the table. Don’t stay silent because you know there were many others who fought to be heard before.”

So, so true. We Asian-Americans cannot sit back and let society take us along for the ride. We must stand up and be vocal, too. We cannot hide behind our model-minority facade. Screw all the stereotypes about Asians being quiet–we are LOUD and PROUD and need to be HEARD!

One thing that strikes my nerves (besides issues for foreign nationals) is the discrimination we get as well. I admit, sometimes I play the race card to try to get things my way. But I hate how, even with the despised “model minority” stereotype set upon us, we are still demonized along with other minorities. How come crime reports with minority suspects have to lump us all together? And make the public think that only “dirty immigrants” will soil the American system?

There will always be good and bad people, no matter the ethnicity. We need to stop with the name-calling, pointing fingers, etc. We need to dig deeper than skin color/ethnicity to see what the real problems are in the world.