An unknown number of Edison, New Jersey residents received a racist, anti-Asian campaign mailer in the post earlier this week attacking local school board candidates Falguni Patel and incumbent Jerry Shi. The mailer proclaims that we should “Make Edison Great Again” and that “the Chinese and Indians are taking over our town!”
“Chinese school! Indian school! Cricket fields! Enough is Enough!!” reads the text of the postcard, which also includes images of Patel and Shi above “Deport” graphics.
The back of the mailer lists several anti-Asian stereotypes — including the Perpetual Foreigner stereotype — with the text: “Stop the overcrowding! Stop taking over our sports fields! Stop the McMansions! Stop the multiple families living in the same house! Stop wasting school holidays! Stop the outsiders! Let’s take back our Edison & our schools!”
Edison is home to a diverse population, and nearly 45% of its residents identify as Asian American, including 28% of residents who are Indian American. Over one-third of Edison residents are immigrants.
Shi and Patel are two of nine candidates running for three 3-year term at-large seats on the Edison Township Public school board. Shi was elected in 2014 and is seeking reelection in the November 7, 2017 election. Shi is part of a slate of candidates running together that includes Patel, incumbent Beth Moroney, and Paul Distefano who is running for a fourth 1-year-term seat.
It is possible that the group responsible for the mailer backs a candidate running against the slate of candidates that includes Shi and Patel, and has deployed racism to attempt to attempt to smear the slate. Either way, the mailer does not include the funding organization’s name or information, which is a violation of campaign rules.
Patel — who was born in New Jersey and who is not an immigrant —spoke to the New York Daily News expressing outrage over the mailer. She said:
“I’m obviously disgusted by it, to say the least.”
“I was born and raised in New Jersey. To see the word ‘deport’ on my picture — where are you going to deport me to? Really it’s just outrageous,” she added.