I don’t know what it means when you hear the voices of two people you know on NPR on the way to work, but it happened for me this morning. First, the voice of one of the first adopted children I had ever met spoke for fostered children in California. I can still remember playing at the park next to Chantel’s house as a kid, and now she’s representing child-related public policy in Sacramento.
Listen: Helping Foster Kids Escape the Cycle of Teenage Pregnancy from the California Report.
Second, Dr. Lai, a professor that pretty much every Ethnic Studies student at Santa Clara University had, came on to discuss the recent “wave” of Asian Americans in politics. It’s a bit of a trip listening to your teacher come on the radio to…talk. Dr. Lai always had an incredibly understanding tone and started one-fifth of his sentences with “friends.” Pretty awesome, friendly guy. I think he also said “comrades” to address the class, but I can’t remember if that was planted in my brain because of classmates’ impersonations of Lai or if it was the truth.
Listen: Asian-American Political Engagement from Forum.
Anyway, politics in the Bay right now are being populated by a number of Chinese Americans and Asian Americans: Jean Quan, mayor of Oakland; Edwin Lee, interim Mayor of San Francisco; Evan Low, mayor of Campbell (AND he’s 27-years old and openly gay.); a score more worth tallying throughout Bay Area cities. SF and The Town are probably the two best-known cities in the Bay Area, and seats throughout the South Bay’s public policy are also occupied by Asian Americans (and have been for years). It’s a fascinating time for Asian Americans in the Bay. It’s history in the making, these “firsts.”
I thought the discussion (also featuring Taeku Lee from UC Berkeley Poli Sci and Evan Low) was great for curious minds. We’re witnessing minority groups going through phases of acculturation and acceptance into mainstream society. Whether you’re interested in politics, the Bay, the ever-progressing zeitgeist, minority issues, or Asian America, I highly recommend a listen.
(Worth noting that the “Asian American” population referenced in the discussion was more Chinese American and less representative of refugee Asian Americans, South Asians, or Southeast Asian populations. “Asian America” encompasses such a large and diverse group of people that it will always butt heads against who it’s intended to describe and who it is perceived to describe. Getting into the details calls for more than a narrative, it calls for at least two university classes.)