The Freedom to Vote

The USA has taken a lot of steps recently to address AAPI issues.  President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, Illinois has required public schools teach Asian American history, and California has set aside $156 million to community groups to tackle the root causes of Asian hate.

We need to wield political power to continue this trend, and this means we need to VOTE.  We turned out in historic numbers to elect President Biden and the current House as well as many Senators. But state legislatures have created voting restrictions that disproportionately affect voters of color — limiting absentee voting, purging voter registration lists, closing polling sites, reducing voting hours, and even criminalizing handing out food and water to voters waiting in line.

These laws are creating obstacles to our voting process and limiting accessibility to the polls for those who need it most. They don't protect voters or our country’s electoral process.  Instead, they create doubt and try to undermine confidence in the democratic process, reinforcing divisive political tactics that prioritize the voices of some citizens over others. 

It is disappointing that as we approach the 56th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we are still fighting for our freedom to vote. But we cannot give up, and we cannot stop now. The ability of every individual to have a say in our political process is the keystone of our democracy; it is the key tool for AAPIs to continue the progress we have made towards reaching equity for our communities and stopping Asian hate. If we cannot act now, we may not have another chance.

Join us and take action today.  

Look up who is is your is Senator here.

Call them and use this script (feel free to adapt if there’s anything else you’d like to discuss):

Hi, my name is [Name]. I am a constituent from [City/State], [ZIP Code].

I am calling to urge Senator _____________ to please vote in support of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Voter suppression is a shameful reality in our country. The ability for everyone to meaningfully participate in our democracy and the need for legislative action is urgent. Congress needs to pass H.R. 1 and H.R. 4 now. These bills are popular. In fact, 8 in 10 Americans are in favor of the provisions in these bills. Again, I urge the Senator to support these bills and do what it takes to protect our freedom to vote. Will Senator ___________  be voting in support of the For the People Act?

Thank you for your time.

**Text Adapted from the Asian & Pacific Islander Americans Vote newsletter, July 29, 2021

Escaping Coronavirus: AAPI Caucus Speaks to Mingway Lee

On Saturday, July 10th, the AAPI Caucus hosted Mingway Lee, an artist, who spoke about his experience during the COVID-19 crisis through a presentation of his drawings chronicling his evacuation to Travis Air Force Base, his stay under the first federally mandated quarantine in decades, and his eyewitness account of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.

His drawings recreated a vivid image of what it was like to be in Wuhan as the COVID-19 pandemic began and how uncertain this period was for everyone. Attendees expressed their gratitude for his willingness to share his experience. We all were able to gain an understanding of what he went through and were reminded of how no one knew what was going on or what was going to happen as we entered the pandemic.

If you missed it, you can see the recording here:

About the Artist

Mingway Lee is an artist living with his wife and two sons, Max and Rex, in New York City. He moved from Beijing to New York in 2012. In 2019, he graduated from Pratt Institute with an MFA degree.

Collaborating with an established writer/director, Clayton Broomes, Jr., he is writing a memoir with more than 100 of his drawings about how he went into the coronavirus crisis in China, escaped the coronavirus from Wuhan to Travis Air Force Base, and relived the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.

Responding to Hate Crimes on a State Level

On 20 May 2021 President Biden signed into law a bill that was introduced by  Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, which aims “to make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels by boosting public outreach and ensuring reporting resources are available online in multiple languages. It also directs the Department of Justice to designate a point person to expedite the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19 and authorizes grants to state and local governments to conduct crime-reduction programs to prevent and respond to hate crimes (NPR 20 May 2021).”

On 2 July 2021, the Stop AAPI Hate Coalition (#StopAAPIHate) released the results of their survey documenting the hundreds of resolutions and actions taken to combat anti-AAPI racism at the state level.  The report noted that of the states that have passed resolutions, over 90% go on to be enacted.  17 states have yet to take any meaningful action to combat anti-AAPI racism: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota,West Virginia and Wyoming.

If you vote in one of these states, we urge you to contact your state and local officials and urge them to take action against racism in your community.

July News: Movie Night Rescheduled & Looking for Volunteers in the Americas


We want to thank all of those who participated in our events in June in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride Month. The AAPI Caucus hosted a film discussion about Alice Wu’s movie The Half of It in conjunction with the LGBTQ+ and Youth Caucuses for the Virtual Pride Marathon. We interviewed Amy Sueyoshi and Stan Yogi, curators of the Seen and Unseen exhibit, which explores the intersection between Japanese and Queer identities prior to World War II. In case you missed the event, you can watch the recording of the event and read about it here.

In July, we will be speaking to Mingway Lee about his experience escaping the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China. The event will take place on July 10th, 2021 at 6pm Berlin / 9am Vancouver.

We are looking for more volunteers in the Americas region. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders can make a difference in the upcoming midterm elections, and we need your help to reach them. If you or someone you know would like to get involved with the Global AAPI Caucus, please make sure to reach out to us at [email protected].

Best wishes,

Cory J. Lemke and Emily Lines

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Seen & Unseen - Cultural Exhibit

Seen and Unseen is the first-ever exhibit focused on Nikkei (Japanese Americans) who were involved in intimate same-sex relationships or defied gender roles in the early 20th century. The exhibition is hosted by J-Sei, a multi-generational and multi-cultural organisation with its roots in Nikkei values and culture.

On June 24th we had a fascinating online discussion with the exhibit curators, Dr. Sueyoshi and Mr. Yogi, about the development of the exhibition and its role in addressing the past and present struggles of queer and gender non-conforming Japanese Americans. They explained not only the deeper history behind the exhibit images, but also the thought and planning behind the exhibit and shared the discoveries they made. Please don't miss the chance to watch this enlightening, heartwarming and delightful discussion of the queer Japanese story in America. 

If you missed it, you can see the recording here:

The Exhibit will be online until June 30. View the exhibition here:  https://www.seenandunseen.net

 About the Curators

Sueyoshi.pngAmy Sueyoshi is Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies with a joint faculty appointment in Race and Resistance Studies and Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State University.  She has received numerous awards for her scholarship in queer history and for her community engagement and advocacy.

Stan Yogi is an award winning author of several books and his essays have appeared in newspapers and academic journals. He has co-curated traveling exhibits on civil liberties.  He is Co-Chair of Okaeri, a Nikkei LGBTIQ+ Community based in Los Angeles.





Cooking Live: Filipino Adobo (Chicken or Tofu)

If you've always wondered how to make this famous and traditional dish from the Philippines, try this delicious and easy recipe! Filipino Adobo (Chicken or Tofu) with Coconut Milk & Rice (PDF)


Recipe: Korean Street Food

If you missed our live Korean Street Food event, it's not too late!  Get the recipes below, and join us live the next time!

Korean Street Food with Saehee Chang

Spicy Rice Cakes with Vegetables (Tteokbokki) - Click here for the recipe

Seafood and Green Onion Pancakes (Pa Jun) - Click here for the recipe

June News: From APA Heritage Month to Pride Month

We hope you enjoyed our Asian Pacific American Heritage Month events! In May, we hosted 11 events and had broad participation from around the world. Our cooking classes (Korean Street Food and Filipino Chicken Adobo) were hugely popular - they had the highest turnout. Don’t forget to check out some of the other events we held - some of them are online on our YouTube channel and can be watched at any time. We look forward to seeing you at our other AAPI events!

June is Pride Month. To celebrate, our caucus will be exploring the intersections between AAPI and LGBTQ+ identities in partnership with the Global LGBTQ+ Caucus. We’ll be hosting a segment of the Pride Marathon on June 20 (more details below). And join us on June 25 for a Q&A session with Professor Amy Sueyoshi, Associate Dean of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, on her work with the Seen and Unseen Exhibit, which explores the history of LGBTQ people in the Japanese American community before 1945. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates on those events!

As we wind down from the Democrats Abroad Global Meeting last month, we will also begin developing tools to help country committees increase their outreach to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in their countries. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing racial group in the United States, and our votes can make the difference in states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Check out this page to get involved today!

Best wishes,

Cory J. Lemke and Emily Lines

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Southwest & Central Asian Voices

Asia is diverse, and so are our Asian American experiences! Here's a list of recommended reading for people looking to include Central and Southwest Asian American voices on their bookshelves and their screens. 

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In Conversation with Shuli de la Fuente-Lau, Founder of @AsianLitForKids

“In some ways, our libraries or what we read hopefully reflect a world we wish we saw - maybe a world beyond what we are in right now.” - Shuli de la Fuente-Lau, founder of @AsianLitForKids.

Shuli de la Fuente-Lau of @AsianLitForKids sat down virtually with Angela Chen from Democrats Abroad Lion City to discuss the intersection of children’s books, racial identity, and the anti-racism journey.

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