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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

March 11, 2007

Written by C.N.

Asian American Political Success in California

I’ve written several posts recently about how Asian American are beginning to flex their political power as voters and as politicians. The New York Times now has a recent article that summarizes the rise of Asian American as a potential political power bloc in California:

California’s 4.4 million Asians constitute the state’s second-largest ethnic minority group (after Latinos) and the largest Asian population in the country, but they have been underrepresented in elected office. Now they are moving beyond fund-raising, where they have long been a force, to elect representatives of their own. . . .

There are now nine Asian-Americans in the State Legislature, compared with one 10 years ago. In November, a Chinese-American, John Chiang, was elected state controller. Three of the five members of the Board of Equalization, which administers the state’s tax policies, are Asian-American, including Mr. Chiang.

“If you look back a decade or two ago, there was a considerable amount of talk about Latinos being the sleeping giant in politics, that they’d reached a certain level of potentially having impact,” said Paul Ong, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has written about Asians’ growing influence in the state. “Asians are at that point.” . . .

Should the number of Asian-American elected officials continue to grow, the issues many of them have pursued — bilingual language assistance, equitable admissions standards at state universities and affordable health care — will become increasingly visible.

The article notes that one challenge still to overcome is that Asian American voting rates of are still lower than that for Whites and Blacks, even among those Asians who are U.S. citizens and therefore eligible to vote. Still, progress has been made. Now Asian Americans like myself can confidently predict that soon, our community will be represented in the halls of political power in California and beyond.

Of course, that’s not to say that we will all agree ideologically, but having the critical mass in terms of numbers of Asian American political leaders is certainly a nice start.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Asian American Political Success in California" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/03/asian-american-political-success-in-california/> ().

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