April News: AAPI Heritage Month is just around the corner

Primary season is well underway! If you haven’t already, make sure to request your ballot for this year’s elections at votefromabroad.org.

Upcoming Primaries

  • May 3 Indiana, Ohio
  • May 10 Nebraska, West Virginia
  • May 17 Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania
  • May 19 Idaho
  • May 24 Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Texas (runoff)

We have been busy getting our events for AAPI Heritage Month lined up, which starts in just a few days. We are excited to announce that we will be speaking with Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY) on Sunday, May 1, 2022, to kick off the month! Congresswoman Meng will talk with us about continuing to engage the AAPI voter community and why AAPI Heritage Month is important.

Get your calendar out and save these dates:

  • May 6th to hear from Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), who will speak about their work to protect AAPI women’s right to reproductive health.
  • May 19th, we will talk with Brian Niiya, Editor of the Densho Online Encyclopedia, and Grace Shimizu, Director of the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project and Coordinator of the Campaign for Justice: Redress NOW for Japanese Latin Americans! They will talk about the importance of preserving the legacy and history of Japanese American incarceration.
  • Our own Steering Committee member, Annie, will host a cooking event on May 15th to show you how to make fried rice.
  • To round out the month, we're welcoming Diego Sanchez, Director, Advocacy, Policy & Partnerships, PFLAG, on May 28th to celebrate intersectionality within our communities and transition into Pride month.

Make sure you follow us on social media and check our events page for the latest updates. 

We are excited to see you at one of our many upcoming events. If you are looking for ways to get involved, especially as the midterms approach, you can find various opportunities on our website. You can also make a donation to Democrats Abroad on behalf of the AAPI Caucus. Your financial support to our all-volunteer organization helps pay for voter outreach, improvements to our website, and more.

Best wishes,

Emily Lines
Chair, AAPI Caucus

P.S. If you missed our event in March with the Environmental Climate Crisis Council, renowned author and activist Dr. Craig Santos Perez was truly moving. Watch the recording!

Upcoming Events

Amplifying the AAPI Voice: Kick-off to AAPI Heritage Month with Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY)

Sun. May 1, 2022, 9:30am EDT
RSVP

Save the Date – Reproductive Justice for AAPI Women: Conversation with Sung Yeon Choimorrow

Fri. May 6, 2022, 10am EDT
In collaboration with the Global Women’s Caucus

Cooking Fried Rice with Annie Tanampai

Sun. May 15, 2022, 9am EDT
RSVP

Save the Date - Remembering the legacy of Japanese American incarceration

Thu. May 19, 2022, 9am EDT
In collaboration with the Global Black Caucus and the Reparations Task Force

Unity, Inclusion, and a Shared Commitment to Human Dignity - an interactive session with Diego Sanchez, Director, Advocacy, Policy & Partnerships, PFLAG

Sat. May 28, 2022, 7pm Seoul / 12pm Berlin / 6am Washington, D.C.
RSVP

Updates

Voting Issues

As part of our monthly newsletters, the AAPI Caucus will be sharing information on key issues affecting the coming elections that will impact AAPI communities at both the state and federal levels. In this newsletter we provide an update on redistricting, gerrymandering and the impact on representative Asian Americans and their communities.

Redistricting Update - April 2022

Congressional maps delineating district borders must be redrawn every ten years after the decennial census to account for shifts in population, to ensure that districts are correctly mapped to represent changing populations and communities. As the current redistricting process which began in 2021 nears its conclusion, there appears to be a shift of 12 congressional seats to the Democrats. But the Republicans are also seeing an increase of seats, and with complex litigation in some states regarding redistricting and a conservative Supreme Court, there will be an uphill battle to maintain the house majority.

As of April 4, 2022, 41 out of 44 states have now finished the redistricting maps (Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming are not required to do redistricting as they only have one congressional representative). Three states, Florida, Missouri and New Hampshire, have yet to approve a new map. As reported by the Brendan Center for Justice in their March 2022 Redistricting Update, 67 cases across the U.S. have challenged newly passed congressional or legislative maps as racially discriminatory or partisan gerrymandering.

In some states in this current process, Asian American groups and multiracial coalitions have successfully advocated for districts reflective of their communities including the first ever Asian American district in Chicago’s Chinatown, and adding districts with high Asian American populations in California and New York, among others.

Read the full write-up about redistricting by the AAPI Caucus.

Recommendations

Essay: Asian Americans Have Always Lived With Fear by Min Jin Lee

(New York Times, March 18, 2022)

As we remember the tragedy of the Atlanta killing one year ago, and the ongoing hate crimes against Asians, novelist Min Jin Lee writes a very moving essay on growing up as the child of immigrants in New York and the violence, racism and fear that she experienced, and continues to experience today.

"Far too many of us in this world are despised and rejected for our immutable characteristics — race, gender, disability, sexual orientation and identification, ethnic origin and religion — so when we can, some of us change jobs, homes, education, clothing, safety protocols, bodies, names and how and with whom we spend our time, in the slim, perhaps vain hopes of seeming less other through our modifications. But I ask you: Should we want to change who we are meant to be?

I am no longer an immigrant girl. Like her, though, I still keep vigil for my elderly parents, sisters, husband, son and our growing family. I cannot imagine a world without them. I want to feel safe. We want it for everyone."

Book: The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang

Lan Samantha Chang is the author of two previous novels and a short story collection. She is the first female director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.

One of the most highly anticipated books of 2022 as noted by Literary Hub, The Family Chao was released last month to critical acclaim. The novel, loosely borrowing from The Brothers Karamazov, tells the story of Chinese immigrants, who, having settled in the Midwest, open a Chinese restaurant 35 years before the start of the story. Partly a literary murder mystery and partly a family drama centering on the experiences of the three brothers’ experiences growing up as Asian-Americans and their struggles with their overbearing father, the chef and owner of the restaurant. Both funny and sad, it deals with issues of race, identity, interracial relationships, ambition, and the American Dream.

Book: When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East by Quan Barry

Quan Barry was born in Saigon and raised in Massachusetts. She is the Lorraine Hansberry Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently serving as the first ever Forward Theater Writer-in-Residence where her first play, The Mytilenean Debate, will be staged later this year.

As noted in The New York Times review, Quan Barry’s “…dazzling new novel, When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East, is centered on themes of faith, history, language and yearning.” It follows two identical twin brothers, one a Buddhist monk, and the other previously a Buddhist monk who has left the order and is now a tour guide, across Mongolia in search of a tulku, a child who is the reincarnation of an esteemed Buddhist saint. Along with two other monks, they travel across Mongolia exploring not just their religious quest, but their connection with each other. Beautifully written, Barry also interweaves global concepts including Chinese suppression of religion, immigration and population migration out of regional areas as well as shedding light on Chinggis (Genghis) Khan.

Exhibition: Sutra and Bible: Faith and the Japanese American World War II Incarceration

Japanese American Museum, Los Angeles

Sutra and Bible tells the stories of those faced with sudden, heartbreaking exile through an array of astonishing artifacts from the concentration camps: from the prayer books and religious scrolls they carried into camp, to the Buddha statues, crosses, and altars they handcrafted to keep their spirits alive. Curated by Duncan Ryuken Williams, Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity, Chair of the USC School of Religion, and the Director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture and Emily Anderson, Project Curator at the Japanese American National Museum. A video of the exhibition and a gallery talk with the curators is available at: https://www.janm.org/exhibits/sutra-and-bible

Streaming: Pachinko

The Series premiered on March 25, 2022 on Apple TV+

Pachinko, based on the novel by Min Jin Li (reviewed in a previous AAPI Caucus newsletter), will screen the first three of eight episodes on March 25, with the other five then screening weekly. Told across the three languages of Japanese, Korean and English, it tells the story of a Korean immigrant family to Japan across four generations. South Korean filmmakers Kogonada and Justin Chon are joint executive producers and directors, with each directing four episodes. In addition to academy award-winning actress (for Minari) Youn Yuh-jung, it also stars Lee Minho and Minha Kim among others.