AAPI's On Capitol Hill
It is a well-known fact that Asian-Americans have been one of the least involved demographics in terms of political participation out of all other racial groups for years. However, recently Asian political apathy has decreased, with registered Asian-American voters increasing by 130% between 2006 and 2014. In fact, many have even made their way to the United States Congress. From Patsy Mink to Ro Khanna, these politicians have made waves in opening up spots for Asian-Americans and increasing political participation. It’s time we pay homage to the AAPI’s that have served and currently serve on Capitol Hill and paved the path for many others to come.
Ro Khanna is an Indian-American Democratic Congressman representing California’s 17th Congressional District,located in the Bay Area. He works specifically on the House Budget Committee, Armed Services Committee, Oversight Committee and Reform Committee. Throughout his career, Khanna has contributed a lot to the world and the realm of politics, such as his writing of a book by the name of Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America's Future, which, to summarize, discusses the importance of innovation, growth and manufacturing. He also endorsed and eventually worked as the co-chair of the Bernie Sanders campaign. One of the things he is most known for is representing Silicon Valley, and works towards bringing the tech industry -a huge, and exponentially growing industry that often leaves black and brown individuals behind - to those of any background. Khanna has represented and paved the path for future South Asians to participate in politics.
Kamala Harris, the half Indian, half Black Democratic junior senator of California is widely known around the United States. After high school, she attended Howard University to obtain her Bachelors Degree, and went off to a graduate program at University of California, Hastings college of law. She started off her political career as the District Attorney in San Francisco, later going on to become the first woman to hold the position of the Attorney General of California. After being sworn into Senatorial office in 2017, she made history by becoming the second black person to be in the Senate and the first South Asian to be in the Senate. She ran in the Democratic Primary elections in 2019, however eventually dropped out. She has written several novels. The first written in 2009 called, Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor's Plan to Make Us Safer, where she discusses her viewpoint about the Criminal Justice System. She went on to write to other books in 2019, one of them being named: The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, a novel about her journey in the career she built. The other one was called Superheroes Are Everywhere, a children's picture book. She made history for Asian Americans around the country, being the first one in many of the positions she took up, and continues to her unique perspective on issues as a woman of color in Congress.
Ted Liu is a Taiwanese-American Congressman who represents California’s 33rd Congressional District. After immigrating to the United States with his parents as a young child, his family started a small business. He later went on to graduate from Stanford University in 1991, and Georgetown University in 1994. After seeing how his family was able to grow and prosper in the United States, he chose to join the military and serve the country, and this ended up shaping his political career. He was first a State Assembly member, and then went on to become the California State Senator and served his term from 2011 to 2014. When elected to the House of Representatives, much of his policy was inspired by his experience as a military veteran, and ended up passing laws that helped veterans experiencing homelessness and foreign policy legislation. He also uses his knowledge in technology to influence some of his propositions. Ted Lieu’s work for underrepresented minorities has left a lasting mark on Capitol Hill, and he continues to open up spots for Asian-Americans in Congress.
Patsy Takemoto Mink:
Elected to Congress for the first time in 1965, Patsy Mink became the first woman of color to step foot into the halls of the House of Representatives, and the first Asian-American woman in Congress. The Hawaiian-born Congresswoman is widely known for her involvement in passing Title IX, a piece of legislation that forbade sex-based discrimination within any educational environment. This made waves in the United States, and opened up opportunities across the country for women of all ethnic backgrounds. She continued to dedicate much of her career as a politician towards women’s rights, most notably, by the passage of the Women’s Educational Equity Act, which worked towards providing more educational opportunities for women, increasing their job prospects, and eradicating any gender norms/stereotypes within curriculum. Mink also participated in the passage of a policy initiative called The Great Society, a set of bills dedicated to increasing equality on the basis of economics, healthcare and education. There were also a number of initiatives within The Great Society that pertained to improving the environment, cleaning the cities, and more. She later passed away in 2002 at the age of 74 due to Pneumonia. Patsy Mink has become a symbol for the AAPI community and for the United States as a whole, it is our job as young, AAPI activists to carry on her legacy.
These politicians have made history in so many ways, however, we as AAPI’s cannot just stop here. We must continue to educate ourselves on current events and keep ourselves civically engaged in order to be recognized in the political eye. There is still a long way to go.