Want to Stop Asian Hate? Start by Passing the Build Back Better Act

A family draws images of money, house, clothing, and games on a chalkboard.

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)

Last year, on the campaign trail, our first Asian American vice presidential candidate spoke about her mom. She recalled how Shyamala Gopalan Harris — a proud, Indian-American immigrant and single mother — would “work around the clock,” “pack lunches before we woke up” and “pay bills after we went to bed.” 

It’s a struggle Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) mothers know too well: Can I get a good job? Can I afford to pay my bills before the cost of childcare eats everything up? Will my aging parents get the care they need? Will my kids have a better future than my own?

With Washington deep in negotiations on President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, AAPI mothers across America are asking themselves the same questions. 

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What we’re not talking about when we talk about equal pay

Screen capture of video for AAPI Equal Pay Day from 2017. (Photo credit: NAPAWF)

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow (Executive Director, NAPAWF)

The gender pay gap is the difference between what men and women earn for doing the same work, and it varies for different sub-groups of women. In 2019, Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) women earned 90 cents for every dollar that white, non-Hispanic men made. Today marks the symbolic day in 2020 when we “catch up” to white men’s earnings from the previous year. The wage gap exists in every state and every occupation, regardless of education—but there’s so much more to the story hidden by the averages. 

The term AAPI includes more than 50 ethnic subgroups, some of which experience much wider pay gaps. Vietnamese American women, for example, made 67 cents for every dollar white men made last year and Cambodian American women made 57 cents. These women will have to work for several more months for their paychecks to catch up while the lost wages compound. 

Asian Americans have long been depicted as “model minorities” in this country. It’s a persistent myth that all Asians are the same and we’re all high-achieving with stable incomes. By failing to recognize our lived experiences, the myth makes it easier to dismiss our struggles and reinforces the misconception that Asian people don’t need resources or support. 

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One Year Later, Women of Color Still Pushing Back Against Kavanaugh

Protesters hold signs opposing Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States in New York on July 10, 2018. (Photo credit: AP / Seth Wenig)

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow (Executive Director, NAPAWF)

One year after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, women of color, our families, and our communities are still under attack. This time last year, more than 100 women and people of color from all over the country traveled to Washington, DC to voice our strong opposition to Kavanaugh at the first-ever Reproductive Justice Day of Action. We showed our collective power in the halls of Congress to fight Kavanaugh’s nomination because we knew it would exacerbate the decades-long degradation of our rights and disregard for our lives, our families, and communities.

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Trump’s Asian American Judges Are No Friends to AAPI Community

Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao testifies before the Senate at her confirmation hearing last month. (Photo credit: Zach Gibson / Getty)

By Guest Contributors: Sung Yeon Choimorrow (NAPAWF), Quyen Dinh (SEARAC), and Alvina Yeh (APALA)

Last month, the Senate voted to confirm D.C. Circuit Court nominee Neomi Rao, who will now be the first Indian American woman to sit on a federal appeals court.

Critics have repeatedly shed light on the dearth of people of color among Trump’s judicial nominees, especially when compared to those of President Obama. Trump has nominated not a single African American or Latino to federal appeals courts amongst a sea of white men. Despite this, two other conservative Asian American federal appeals court nominees in addition to Rao face imminent confirmations–and lifetime appointments–to the U.S. judiciary: Michael Park and Kenneth Lee, to the Second and Ninth Circuits, respectively, have also received hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Don’t be fooled: these appeals court nominees are a danger to civil rights and justice for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community; they are pawns in Trump’s larger scheme to uphold white supremacy under the guise of promoting racial diversity in the top ranks of government.

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The Illusion of the Asian American Dream

Elaine Chao

Asian Americans are often lauded as a “model minority” that has achieved complete acceptance into American society. But silent and pervasive racism has shown that American identity was never meant to include people who look like me.

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director, NAPAWF

Throughout Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), I have reflected on the stories I’ve heard about the deeply frustrating lack of visibility of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). While many Asian Americans are often referred to as “model minorities” whose stereotyped high achievements provide them a proxy to whiteness and American identity, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. We continue to suffer from microaggressions, are still seen as perpetual foreigners, and have repeatedly been denied the ability to shine beyond the stereotypes of our communities — which were shaped by decades of American history and foreign policy. So on the last day of APAHM, I’m still thinking about why we are still striving to figure out where and how we fit into the fabric of this country. Because oftentimes, we have to fight just to be seen as American.

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