By Victoria Huynh
The United States of America, the land of opportunity, is a country in which anyone can achieve anything they imagine, no matter who they are or where they come from. It’s the “American dream” to have access to an abundance of options and be surrounded by people from all over the world. Another way people have described the U.S. is as a “melting pot”; however, I would say that is less accurate.
The metaphor of a melting pot gives the idea that all the people, cultures, and values found in America are blended to make a new, singular taste. What makes this country special is the variety of cultures and diversity. But at times, as an Asian American, it can feel like my culture, my needs, and my values are overlooked. Sometimes they are just blended in with either the perspective of people of color or Americans as a collective. That shouldn’t be the case.
According to the Pew Research Center, Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in America. In the past 10 years, the Asian population has grown by 35.5%. There is often the idea that because the stereotype of Asian Americans is to be high achieving and well-blended into society, socially and economically, that any sort of help or support is not needed. That simply isn’t true. The Asian American community is growing. My voice and goals should be heard and represented in my community.
As Americans, we have a chance to provide our input in the drawing of district lines that will affect our communities, our children, and the resources that we receive. Our Asian American community deserves the same respect and attention from our elected leaders like everyone else. We can demand a fair redistricting process because it is our communities that are at stake.
The process of drawing district lines happens once every 10 years. There seems to be so much else happening in the world that the importance of the process is overlooked.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in discrimination against the Asian American Pacific Islander community. As of August 2021, the national incident report stated that 63.7% of reported incidents were verbal harassment and 16.5% were shunning – the deliberate avoidance of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
If we want to see meaningful and positive changes for our community, we must have elected officials in office who will stand up for us and stand with us. This kind of representation simply cannot happen if our communities are not kept whole in districts. For example, Buford Highway is a community, in Georgia, that has been mobilizing for years to improve the lives of immigrant residents and business owners.
This community is fractured into several different house districts and school board districts. How can we affect change if we can’t advocate together the same elected official? Redistricting is a public health issue, an issue about transportation, language access, education access, etc.
The process of drawing district lines must be transparent to everyone. The only way that happens is if we get involved in the process and educate ourselves. We can prepare and demand a better future for our families and community. A child that is 5 years old now will be 15 when the next redistricting process occurs. That is most of their childhood. The time is now to encourage others to unite during the redistricting process. It is our job to speak up for a future that provides opportunities for our children to succeed and continue to flourish in our communities.
Yes, we are Americans, but as Asian Americans, we deserve to have a voice and share our unique perspectives, strengths, and concerns within our communities. By joining together to demand we are included in the process of drawing fair district lines, we can ensure the opportunity to elect leaders who will truly represent us and provide resources that benefit us. I encourage you to speak to your local elected officials, attend map drawing meetings and educate one another to ensure that we are united and heard and that we receive the support we need.
Victoria Huynh is the senior vice president at the Center for Pan Asian Community Services.
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