“What really matters with elections is ‘substantial representation’ and the degree to which a candidate, regardless of race, understands and fights for policies that will benefit the members of the group,” Wong said.
Sara Sadhwani, also a senior researcher at AAPI Data, said that “a raw number of minority individuals elected to power fall short of communities who feel they are represented.” While Yang garnered support from key Asian leaders in New York City and national politics, including Representative Grace Meng, DN.Y., he also encountered strong opposition from the community, including around 800 Americans. Asian progressives who signed a letter rejecting his offer.
“If Andrew Yang is to represent the AAPI community, he will have to build trust and organize the community like any other candidate,” Sadhwani said. “Sharing his immigrant story, listening and showing that he understands the needs the community faces, and most importantly, keeping any promises made to the community is all part of reactive performance. “
But when asked about any work in the Asian American community leading up to his mayoral campaign, Yang responded by citing the names of politicians he knew or who had supported him.
“I certainly had connections before this race, but I didn’t know everyone. And I certainly got to know a lot of people that I didn’t know before I ran for mayor. i was friends with [state Sen.] John Liu, who supported me. I was friends with Grace Meng, who supported me. I did not know [City Council member] Margaret Chin, for example … so it was exciting to get to know her.
Tran said that was insufficient and that ties with city leaders are only the first step.
“Genuine engagement doesn’t just mean with political leaders, not just with formal Asian American organizations across the city, but the people, voices and real experiences behind those organizations and the Asian American communities. “, did he declare. “This awareness, Andrew Yang has not fully done and has not had a deep connection before with these different Asian American communities in the city.”
Engagement also means uplifting others so that Yang doesn’t remain the only Asian American in New York politics, Tran said. Likewise, Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the New York-based nonprofit Asian American Federation of Origin, said deep engagement means ensuring there is a long-term focus on Asian Americans, not just when they are targeted by an increase in hate crimes. This is something that she challenges all applicants to do.
“Did he work in a community? Did he volunteer? Does he understand all the nuanced stories? Has he worked with anyone to support immigration policies? There is a lot you can do to get involved, ”she said. “We are looking for a long, sustained and permanent interaction that engages our community. It’s not just about campaigning for five minutes with sound clips.
Given the complexity of the community, there is no unifying and monolithic position among Asian Americans, which prevents it from representing them all, Yang said. Its website includes policies targeted for other marginalized groups of similar diversity, including Latinos and the LGBTQ community, but does not have such platforms specified on Asian Americans. But Wong said there are tensions between progressive and moderate members of the group over the police and other racial justice issues, such as the integration of specialized high schools, but surveys reveal the community is converging. in fact around fundamental issues like environmental protection, expansion of health care and a strong government social safety net.
Experts point out that the pandemic had displayed elements of historic racism towards Asian Americans. But some agree with Yang that this period of anti-Asian hate is in some ways different. It is a time marked by the catalysis of activism, of which Tran says Yang is a part. With an increased mobilization of American-Asian groups, the candidate, while being influential in his own way, will then have to face this new generation by building meaningful relationships.
“What is different is that the AAPI are organizing to fight against this new wave of hatred, so they are more mobilized and actively claim their power, more than ever,” Sadhwani said. “An organized community, however, will want more than to bow to ethnic appeals and will probably want to see action and candidates who keep their promises instead.”