By Kris Ramstrom & Jeremy Lu
Imagine opening your mailbox only to see a flyer featuring your face with the word “deport” plastered over it. You look down your street and see that your neighbors have all received the same flyer, labeling you as a danger and a disgrace to the community. As you turn over the ad in your hand, the unsettling message starts to sink in: WE don’t want YOU here.
This recently occurred just last week in Edison, New Jersey, to school board candidates Jerry Shi and Falguni Patel. An anti-Chinese and anti-Indian campaign was plastered on the doorsteps of the Edison community, pinning the word “deport” over the faces of the candidates and promoting the Trump-inspired slogan “Make Edison Great Again”. “I was borned and raised in New Jersey” Patel said when talking to the interviewer, “to see the word ‘deport’ on my picture ….. Really it’s just outrageous.” The police couldn’t identify who sent the flyers because they were sent anonymously and do not indicate who paid for them. The candidates along with the township were of course appalled by the flyer, but expressed that this kind of racism is nothing new. Khyati Y. Joshi, an education professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, said, “It’s not just in Edison. It’s a long line of anti-Asian sentiment that goes back to the 1800s.” The dramatic increase of the Asian population in Edison is what most likely sparked the fear expressed here. The current political climate has shown this kind of bigotry being directed mainly towards African American and Mexican communities, but proves to affect other minorities as well.
This is hardly the first instance of discrimination against Asian Americans in the political sphere. In the past there have been numerous examples of Asian American citizens running for office or positions of power, who have been neglected because of the stigma that comes along with being Asian. Both Asian American men and women are typically seen as submissive, so when they attempt to assume a authoritative position they are ridiculed and discredited. Ted Lieu, a congressman from California and an outspoken advocate for the Trans community, is one of the main faces in the political struggle for Asian American rights. He has tackled issues such as immigration and background checks, all while feeling the pressures of systematic racism in the government.
We need ambitious Asian Americans like Jerry Shi, Falguni Patel, and Ted Lieu to speak for the voices that have been silent for far too long. Hopefully they can inspire a new generation of young people, to take up the fight that was handed down to them, through generations of struggle.