Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing racial demographic, with nearly 50 different nationalities and ethnicities lumped under the “AAPI” umbrella. Those growing numbers mean growing media and political attention — and sometimes growing resentment from the majority.
Noting the increase in both the number of elected officials and incidents of hate directed toward this community, Dugyala adds
But not everyone can reconcile these two dueling trends of AAPI gains and tragedy. At a hearing on pandemic-related hate crimes last week, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) asked, “If America was such [a] hate filled, discriminatory, racist society filled with animus against Asian Americans, how do you explain the remarkable success of Asian Americans in our country?”
Here’s an answer: Don’t flatten the diversity of the diaspora into the stories of high earning STEM CEOS, politicians and Hollywood types. Yes, Kamala Harris is now the vice president. Yes, “Minari” has six Oscar nominations. That doesn’t override the hate crimes.
Absolutely! But don't condemn McClintock for his (pick one) ignorance, naivete, or disingenuousness. It's not his fault.
When Kamala Harris was elected vice-president, there were few reports, a dearth of tweets, and little talk about a US senator, a former prosecutor, a Californian, or a neo-liberal taking on the job. It was all about her being the first woman and/or first individual of either south Asian or Caribbean descent to take over the office.
It was only about factors- being a woman or having parents of a certain background- over which she had no influence. A glass ceiling had been shattered, we were vigorously reminded by social media, conventional media, and any other media. We were to congratulate ourselves.
A glass ceiling has been broken!
A glass ceiling has been broken! @KamalaHarris makes history as the first Black, first Indian American, and first female vice president. Congratulations! pic.twitter.com/tIEFtu0piB— Kresge Foundation (@kresgefdn) January 20, 2021
CRASH! Did you hear that? A big old glass ceiling just smashed to pieces. https://t.co/ABGUwAi4r0— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) January 20, 2021
It's history repeating itself. When Barack Obama was elected President, NPR reflected the zeigeist when it exclaimed "Barack Obama is promising supporters that 'change has come.' After his historic election as the nation's first black president, Obama promised to be a president for all Americans — including those who voted against him. "
Change has come, implying not only in the one office of the presidency, but to American society in its wondrous capacity to re-invent itself as a uniquely exceptional country.
Repeatedly reminded that the election was "historic," many Americans reacted in the maanner which should have been expected but even now is rarely acknowledged. History has been made! We gave a black man the highest honor! What is it with this "original American sin of slavery," anyway? Eight years later, Donald Trump was elected President.
Pervasive is the notion that the election of Harris is nearly as historic, even though her position is one of no power other than that conveyed by the President himself. President Biden himself once referred to Harris as "President-elect" and at least once as "President Harris." Though references to an "Obama-Biden Administration" were scarece, there have many references in media by Democrats to the "Biden-Harris Administration."
This is not accidental. And so this: when a Republican such as Representative McClintock suggests with a straight face that the success of ethnic Asians in American society demonstrates they face no major discrimination, he is channeling the belief of tens of millions of Americans who know not to express their feelings in polite company. McClintock was properly corrected by Politico's Dugyala, but there should be no surprise. As the media and some Democrats did with the election of Barack Obama and now with that of Kamala Harris, the response has been invited and encouraged.
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