The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is not a monolith.
Representing over 18 million people, AAPIs are a diverse, fast-growing population that includes Americans who identify with one or more of numerous East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups. Even the most populous of of AAPI sub-groups — Chinese Americans, Indian Americans, and Filipino Americans — individually comprise less than one-quarter of the total AAPI population.
And yet, the federal government still largely fails to collect data that reflect the diversity of the AAPI community; instead, most federal agencies follow an archaic standard — established in 1997 — wherein they lump together all AAPI into the two broad categories: “Asian” or “Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander”. Such a generalizing approach misses the nuance of the AAPI community, and washes away the specific socioeconomic challenges faced by AAPI sub-groups.
Last month, US Customs and Border Protection announced a proposal to institute a “voluntary” social media check of Chinese travelers to the United States. The proposal would add an “optional” question requesting account information for an applicant’s social media accounts to the Electronic Visa Updates System (EVUS), the system that foreign visitors use to manage their visa applications to the United States.
A mandatory social media check policy is already proposed or in place for travelers from several Muslim-predominant countries, and those practices have already been widely criticized as unreasonable and unjust. It is unclear how voluntary the proposed “voluntary” social media check of Chinese travelers will be in practice.
Right now, Congress is considering the Marketplace Fairness Act, a bill that would change US tax law to allow states to collect taxes from online retailers, even if those retailers are physically located outside of the state of the sale. The Act is backed by the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, a public relations groups which argues that existing tax loopholes disadvantage the mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar small businesses of American “Main Street” by requiring them to pass the cost of state taxes onto their patrons, while online retailers can charge lower prices for the same goods.
Ironically, however, the Alliance for Main Street Fairness doesn’t actually just represent small business; instead, it includes among its members big box-store retailers such as Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Home Depot and JC Penney.
This month the Alliance for Main Street Fairness has set its sights on lobbying for the Marketplace Fairness Act using ads that specifically target Alibaba, a Chinese eBay-style online retailer. These ads draw upon Yellow Peril fears by casting a Chinese face as the destroyer of Main Street. In addition to the ad embedded above, the group has released a cartoon showing a red wrecking ball emblazoned with the name “Alibaba” and the yellow stars of the Chinese flag smashing the windows of an American Main Street shop (after the jump).
In a speech — less than 20 minutes long and snubbed by the country’s major cable networks — President Barack Obama made history (again).
In 2008, Obama promised constituents comprehensive immigration reform within his first term, but a combination of Republican obstructionism and a prioritization of other issues (like healthcare reform) led to the tabling of the issue. By Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, immigration activists were frustrated and alarmed, Obama’s inaction coupled with his administration’s record high rate of returns and removals led to many on the Progressive Left to start labeling him the “Deporter-In-Chief”. A multiracial coalition of activists including prominent AAPI civil rights organizations and undocumented immigrants such as Jose Antonio Vargas and Ju Hong lobbied tirelessly to pressure Obama and the Left to address immigration reform before 2016. They held the rest of us accountable by refusing to allow the fight for comprehensive immigration reform to leave the spotlight.
Last night, these activists should be taking a victory lap, because last night President Obama took the first step towards that promise of comprehensive immigration reform. And, while it is a small step with many caveats, it’s a necessary one.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!