From Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore
“Although many of us have been organizing for more APIA representation in New York City politics, representation alone is simply not enough,” the letter states.
Over 400, AAPI community members, organizers, leaders and activists signed the letter. Notable signatories include Mayor Bill de Blasio’s communications advisor and deputy press secretary Angelene Superable and three AAPI City Council candidates: Carolyn Tran, Hailie Kim and Shahana Hanif.
In the letter, the signatories outlined eight main concerns with Yang’s platform and mayoral bid. They criticized what they perceived to be Yang’s perpetuation of racist stereotypes, pointing to an op-ed he wrote to The Washington Post where he urged Asian Americans to “show our American-ness” in the wake of COVID-19, as well as his advocation of pro-police policies.
Other criticism pointed to what they believed were Yang’s insufficient plan to address homelessness and support affordable housing, his support for specialized admission tests for elite high schools, the regressiveness of his Universal Basic Income (UBI) model, his alignment with big business, his history of workplace misogyny and his stance on the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which he accused of being rooted in “antisemitic thought and history.”
“In 2022, New York City needs a leader who can truly grapple with the complex racial and economic injustices and the needs of Asian and Pacific Islander New Yorkers in the pandemic’s aftermath,” the letter concludes. “There are candidates more aligned with social and racial justice values, with deeper commitments to APIA and BIPOC communities, whose mayoralty would actually benefit our communities, and they are not getting the attention they deserve.”
New York’s first Asian American State Senator, John Liu, told City & State that though he believes Yang’s candidacy “represents a voice that needs to be both heard and seen,” the letter presents legitimate concerns.
“The letter itself is not surprising. These concerns have been mounting over the past few months; it’s not coming out of the blue,” he said. “It’s long been noted, justifiably, that many Asian Americans are very progressive and ideology and principle does go a ways farther than race and ethnicity, particularly among people who are knowledgeable and active.”
Queens Assembly Member Ron Kim, who, according to QNS, has endorsed Yang, echoed Liu’s sentiments, urging Yang to listen to and address the concerns of the signatories. For Kim, Yang’s ability to receive criticism and right his wrongs distinguishes him from others in politics. Kim pointed to Yang’s rapid response to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism of his revision of her original Green New Deal for Public Housing.
“What’s refreshing to me about Andrew is he’s not tied to any establishment, whether it’s the traditional Democratic establishment or the left establishment, or the civil rights establishment, there’s an endless group of established groups in the city of New York that if you’re here for a long time, you’re beholden to – pigeonholed – to their specific interests and he doesn’t have that,” Kim told City & State. “He’s coming in with a fresh set of eyes, offering solutions and willing to fail and pivot and learn, and that’s a quality that I’ve never seen in a politician.”
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