To encourage better and broader civic engagement within the AAPI community in Trump’s America, #DearMyAAPIRep is a new feature that will appear semi-regularly in 2017 that will feature an open letter written to specific Asian American & Pacific Islander elected officials. Each letter will highlight an issue of particular relevance to the AAPI community and will invite a response from our elected officials.
Dear Rep. Ami Bera, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Rep. Grace Meng, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Rep. Ro Khanna, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Rep. Doris Matsui, and Rep. Bobby Scott,
On Friday, the power of the United States’ highest office will peacefully transfer from the nation’s first Black president and to a man who rose to prominence by fomenting a racist “whitelash” against his presidency. Over the course of the 2016 campaign, President-elect Donald Trump deployed racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, classism, ableism, threats of violence, and the promise of exclusionary immigration laws to cement his majority support among all subgroups of white voters. Today, it remains unclear exactly what legislative damage we might expect with the Trump administration – there is no need for me to list the many looming threats to our liberties and civil rights posed by Trump’s inauguration — but, it is certain that life will be much harder for people of colour under A President Donald J. Trump.
As of this morning, nearly 60 members of Congress have joined a national Congressional boycott against Trump’s inauguration. The boycott was inspired by President-elect Trump’s disdainful (and overtly racist) tweets against civil rights legend (and sitting US Representative) John Lewis. Trump ushered in Martin Luther King Day weekend celebrations with an accusation that Rep. Lewis — who grew up in Jim Crow segregation and who nearly gave his life to the Civil Rights Movement — was “all talk” and that he should focus on fixing soaring crime rates in his “falling apart” district. (In reality, Lewis represents one of the wealthiest, and least crime-ridden, districts in Georgia.) In response to this bizarre and offensive attack, Rep. Lewis mused that Trump was not “a legitimate president”, citing US Intelligence reports that Russia had deliberately influenced the election’s outcome for Trump.
In the wake of this latest Trump Twitter dust-up, members of the Congressional Black, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific American Caucuses rallied to Lewis’ defense with declarations that they would join him in a boycott of Trump’s inauguration. That movement has since spread throughout the House. Currently, four of Congress’ AAPI congressmen – including Reps. Mark Takano, Ted Lieu, Pramila Jayapal and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) chair Rep. Judy Chu – are participating in the boycott.
Rep. Lieu cited Trump’s history of “racist, sexist and bigoted” remarks as motivation for his decision to participate in the protest. “For me, the personal decision not to attend Inauguration is quite simple,” said Lieu. “Do I stand with Donald Trump, or do I stand with John Lewis? I am standing with John Lewis.”
By Guest Contributor: Sudip Bhattacharya
At a post-election event in Boston, Senator Bernie Sanders uttered the following: “It’s not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me!’” No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.”
Since the victory of Trump over Clinton, comments like those have echoed across the political spectrum, including from several Democrats (or those claiming to be). Those who hail from the political left fear that the Democratic party has lost its way with the “working class” — which is a problematic frame that I’ll explain later — or that Democrats are more invested in diversity than in dismantling class oppression. These are both valid points. However, those of us who are underrepresented and politically insecure — especially those of us who are people of color — have reason to worry: this framing portrays us and our issues as mere distractions from the “real” concerns of American people. Evidently, the soul of the Democrat Party is a site of struggle. I hope to push back against the forces that would marginalize racial justice on the Left, and which would leave POC like ourselves stranded and more powerless than before.
There are valid critiques of “identity politics,” including some raised by other folks of color. We might, for example, confuse a person’s background for their politics. When we elect Bobby Jindal or Nikki Haley, some of us can make the mistake of believing that they’ll stand up for us, or that their wins should be celebrated. Similar sentiments might also apply to Margaret Thatcher or other so-called “change” candidates, even when these figures are revealed to only serve the interests of the wealthy elite. However, the argument turns bitter and dangerous when the person advocating against “identity” politics invokes a sort of “neoliberal” agenda to divide and rule the people while neglecting working class politics.
The critiques of “identity politics” are problematic in three ways. First, it marginalizes the experiences of African Americans and other groups of color who are part of the working class. Second, it distorts the image of who is the typical reactionary voter. Most importantly, it consistently negates the power of race and racism in the U.S., both past and present.
Former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who is the only member of President George W. Bush’s Cabinet to serve the full eight years of his two terms in office, has been selected by President-Elect Donald Trump to head the Department of Transportation in his upcoming administration.
Chao, who was the first Asian American woman to sit on a presidential Cabinet, previously served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation and Director of the Peace Corps under President George H.W. Bush.
Chao’s tenure as Labor Secretary was marked by her decidedly pro-business stance, leaving her frequently at odds with labour unions and workers’ rights groups. The Government Accountability Office reported in 2008 that the Labor Department inadequately investigated tens of thousands of complaints filed by workers alleging labour violations. In addition, the Department of Labor under Chao was repeatedly criticized for failing to conduct proper safety inspections to protect worker health, while redirecting resources towards stricter scrutiny of labour unions’ financial records. Nonetheless, Chao has remained a powerful player within the national Republican party even after leaving the position of Secretary of Labor, particularly as a close strategist and advisor to her husband of over twenty years, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Yesterday, I reported that Trump supporter Carl Higbie had appeared on Fox News’ The Kelly File to offer Japanese American incarceration (a note on language by the JACL) as a legal precedent for a national Muslim registry.
Last night, Higbie was invited back onto The Kelly File to clarify his statements (video after the jump).
Earlier this morning, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he has chosen Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to fill the role of US Attorney General under the upcoming Trump administration.
This selection is tantamount to a declaration of war against people of colour and immigrants, including against Asians and Asian Americans. The Asian American community must rally to stop the confirmation of Senator Sessions as our next head the Department of Justice.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!