By Guest Contributor: Christine Chen, Executive Director of APIAVote (@apiavote)
Edison town council member Sapana Shah realized something was wrong the moment she checked social media, learning that she and her neighbors received the same anti-Asian mailer Wednesday which featured a “deport” stamp on the photos of two Asian school board candidates. The postcard also read, “The Chinese and Indians are taking over our town.”
Targeting candidates based on bias and hate toward various ethnic, racial or religious identity is not new. And Shah is no stranger to it as a candidate. She recounted multiple incidents to me over the phone. Shah, a long-time resident in the Edison township of Middlesex County, New Jersey, was told to go back to her country when she ran for local elected office. She once found her campaign signs inscribed with the words “dot head,” an offensive racial slur. As a town council member, Shah endured insults from residents who shouted her down at the end of a public meeting for voting to include Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, as a school holiday.
When individuals are targets of hate, it not only affects them but also entire communities.
In a historic vote, the third largest political party in Canada — the social democrat New Democratic Party (NDP) — has elected Sikh-Canadian Jagmeet Singh as its federal party leader, making Singh the nation’s first non-white leader of any major political party.
Singh won 53.8% of the New Democrat vote on Sunday in the first ballot of the NDP Leadership race, far out-performing the other candidates vying for the position. The position of NDP leader was vacated after Singh’s predecessor — former NDP leader Tom Mulcair — lost a leadership review vote at the party’s convention in April.
Hours after winning the NDP leadership vote, Singh declared he was challenging Justin Trudeau to be the next Prime Minister of Canada in 2019.
Khizr Khan, the Pakistani American and Muslim father of US Army Captain Humayun Khan who was killed in 2004 while deployed during the Iraq War, says he has been forced to cancel a scheduled speaking engagement in Canada after learning that his “traveling privileges are being reviewed.”
By Guest Contributor: Sudip Bhattacharya
“Sudip, what’s going to happen to us? Can he really create a registry…?”
The words stuck to my ribs as nausea gripped me.
It was meant to be a typical Friday night. My friends and I met at the local IHOP, as we often did, with plans to crack jokes about Nicholas Cage or perform impressions of Batman ordering pancakes. Instead, we sat, staring at our plates. I was the one studying politics in grad school, so my two friends — who are Muslim and South Asian American — asked me about what was next. We had grown up together in central New Jersey, where we had spent carefree weekends at shopping malls and exploring random towns along Route 1. Yet, that evening, I saw the lines on their faces deepen with anxious creases.
I would’ve been lying if I encouraged them to sense a light at the end of the tunnel, when clearly, everything we believed was collapsing before our eyes. I shifted the conversation, asking them about a trip they were planning. I tried listening, while realizing that since the election of Trump, my capacity for hope was extinguished.