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Issues of Race: White NOW board member accused of posing as Asian American. Media erases Kamala Harris’ South Asian heritage

NOW Photo

A White board member for the National Organization for Women is allegedly attempting to gain an edge for reelection by listing herself as Asian American on campaign paperwork, the Daily Beast reports. 

BJ Star suddenly and inexplicably identified herself as a woman of color despite identifying as White in multitudes of previous paperwork. It still remains unclear what part of Star’s heritage is Asian American, and Star has not elaborated on the subject.

Nonetheless, the decision is viewed by many NOW members as an “election ploy.” 

According to Daily Beast, NOW bylaws allow a region to have an extra board member if said member is a person of color. As Star’s seat faces opposition from another candidate, identifying as a woman of color can essentially guarantee her the extra seat. 

“She’s run for this seat before and never has mentioned being Asian American, and all of a sudden, now? That’s too coincidental,” Mariquita Anderson, an Asian American NOW member from Minnesota, said, according to Daily Beast. 

It’s a controversial time for NOW: in June, NOW members raised concerns about ongoing racism from current President Toni Van Pelt. Despite more than a dozen allegations, the board hasn’t garnered enough votes to force Van Pelt out, Daily Beast reports. 

“You can’t wear race like lipstick—one day you want to be red, one day you want to be black, one day you want to be brown,” Triana Arnold-James, a Black woman and NOW board candidate, said, according to Daily Beast. 

As Star claims Asian American heritage, women nationwide are decrying the erasure of vice-presidential pick Kamala Harris’ Indian American identity, The Lily reports. 

According to The Lily, news outlets have been focusing on Harris being the first Black woman to appear on a presidential ticket for a major party, while ignoring that Harris is also the first Asian American to do so. 

“My issue is when her Indian heritage is completely left out of the story, as if it doesn’t exist,” Kiara Soobrayan, whose family is from the South Indian region as Harris’ mother, said. “I like to consider myself as belonging to U.S. culture. This emphasizes the idea that ‘You are not one of us.’”

Seeing a South Asian politician making history is powerful, Seher Chowdhury said, according to The Lily. Having Harris’ Indian American identity acknowledged makes her feel “validated on a national level,” Chowdbury added.

“… She is South Asian American, she is a child of immigrants, she is a woman,” Chowdbury said, The Lily reports. “All three of those things are me, too.”

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