Recently, an outspoken presidential candidate, Donald Trump, questioned a Korean American Harvard student, Joseph Choe. After Choe’s confrontation about Trump’s false pretenses around U.S. defense spending on South Korea, Trump asked, “Where are you from?”
A day before Trump’s outlash, Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeted: “I Trust @BernieSanders with my tax dollars like I trust a North Korean chef with my Labrador!”
Let’s hit pause. Would you ever ask a white American where he was from? No really, where he was really from? Choe answered, he was born in Texas and raised in Colorado.
Asking questions that single out a specific demographic and/or ethnic background—in Trump’s case, a Korean American—that does not look like the “typical” American with white skin, blue eyes, and blond hair insinuates them as “outsiders.” These are the types of racist comments that create foreignness where there shouldn’t be any.
According to the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA), there are more than 670,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Washington state. The AAPI population is not only one of the most diverse culturally, but the fastest growing population in Washington. Currently, it makes up more than 8.5 percentage of the population, according to the CAPAA report in 2010.
So why do we still talk about the APIA population like we are some sort of invaders? The first Asian Americans settled in Washington state in the mid-nineteenth century, so we are not a new demographic. So, politicians listen up.
Like every other American with blue eyes and white skin, we are people who work hard, try to provide for our families, and create a better life for our children. Inequities happen because politicians like Trump and Huckabee create a distasteful space for people of color. It happens because powerful politics and policies constantly work against what you call “foreigners,” but what I call family.
APIA population is one of the most booming populations in America, and by 2052, America will have one of the most diverse high school graduate classes in history. The face of America is changing, so should its politics.