Currently, AAPI’s representation at Congress 2021 understands the senses. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) And 15 reps, distributed almost equally between men and women. Nearly half won elections in majority white districts, according to Tuesday’s report. There are 152 AAPI state legislators in 31 states, with one-third of them representing white-majority districts.
“Voters, regardless of party identification, really want to see thoughtful leadership,” said Brenda Choresi Carter, the campaign manager, who tracks the diversity of elected officials. “Political power has been concentrated in the hands of white men in the United States from the very beginning. And I think we see the limits. ”
The report is a step towards transparency and collecting more detailed data on AAPI’s representation, said Choresi Carter, essential for a demographic that includes more than 50 countries of origin, broad income inequality and English proficiency rates variable.
It also comes at a crucial time: the Senate recently introduced a bipartisan Covid hate crimes bill to combat rising discrimination, and the country is still in mourning over two mass shootings where American Sikhs and East Asian women were the alleged targets. But the AAPIs also had political victories: Kamala Harris was elected vice-president. And Asian Americans have proven to be a crucial electoral bloc in the battlefield states.
Greater representation will drive policy change for the most vulnerable AAPIs and take into account the diversity of the community, said Choresi Carter.
The Campaign calculated the gap in political representation over population for each racial and ethnic group. AAPI people were the most under-represented group, at a factor of -85%, while whites were over-represented by + 46%.
State and local offices have lower percentages of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans than the federal level. Choresi Carter said the county level turned out to be the whitest and smartest office level in the United States.
“When women and people of color are at the ballot box, they win at the same rate as white candidates,” she said. “But the opportunity to compete is so tightly controlled by a system of political guardians, which makes it incredibly difficult to break into the system. It really gives new meaning to the term “old boys club”. ”
AAPI’s lack of representation is most glaring in the criminal justice sector, which has been in the spotlight given ongoing discussions on police reform, solidarity and incarceration.
Excessive surveillance affects Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, who are much more likely to be incarcerated than whites in Hawaii. Meanwhile, Southeast Asian Americans are at least three times more likely than other immigrants to be deported due to previous criminal convictions, according to the report.
But AAPIs are being left out of the debate over the future of criminal justice, said Premal Dharia, executive director of the Institute to End Mass Incarceration at Harvard Law School. The reasons for this are twofold: they are classified as “other” in many state prison systems, which means they are not tracked. And there are few AAPI law enforcement officials.
Last year, only six of the 2,539 elected prosecutors were AAPI, according to the Campaign report. County sheriffs play an important role in eviction proceedings – but only two of the 3,035 elected sheriffs were AAPI.
“There is a long way to go to do the kind of major overhaul of our mass incarceration system,” Dharia said. “One of the pieces of this larger puzzle is increased transparency and a better understanding of what we do, who is responsible.”