Getting AAPIs registered and out to vote, and protecting the freedom to vote so that communities can advocate for the issues important to them.
Directly investing in grassroots organizations across the nation, and connecting them with expertise and resources to effectively engage with people of diverse ages, backgrounds, and languages at the local level.
Mobilizing AAPIs toward greater civic engagement around issues like fair districting, US Census and American Community Survey participation.
Developing data-driven research and supporting policies that help AAPIs build collective power and gain recognition as a growing national force.
Amplifying the issues impacting AAPIs today, and combatting mis- and disinformation spread within our communities.
Since 2007, APIAVote has been at the forefront of a rising movement to strengthen the presence and power of AAPIs in our democracy. With our Alliance for Civic Empowerment (ACE), we work with more than 60 partners on outreach, organizing, and communications efforts that have reached millions of AAPI residents. The results from our efforts are clear: AAPIs are determining the outcome of elections because of historic turnout levels, ensuring that our communities’ needs are met.
This starts with enabling every eligible Asian American and Pacific Islander to register to vote and participate in elections. The 2020 presidential election saw historic voter turnout by the AAPI electorate, with nearly 60% of AAPIs heading to the polls. AAPI voters had the highest growth of any racial group in 2020, with a 47% increase. This milestone happened despite a rise of anti-Asian hate and violence, and a global pandemic that shut down the US economy. However, it did not happen overnight. This was a result of decades of population growth, coordinated organizing, and strategic investments to encourage AAPIs to register and vote at the same levels as other communities.
But that work is far from done. If we are to reach voter parity with other groups and have a voice in the decisions affecting our lives, we must continue to sustain the momentum, increase voter registration and participation, and combat voter suppression tactics that take away our rights.
Building power also means supporting AAPI candidates and policies that reflect the diversity of AAPI communities. AAPIs are also the most underrepresented in office – making up just 0.9% of elected officials in the US – despite being over 7% of the population. It is important that AAPI voters see more reflective leadership so they understand that our representative democracy includes and works for their best interest, and to ensure that their needs, especially in the most vulnerable populations, are addressed with cultural understanding and in the languages they are proficient in.
APIAVote supports building economic power in AAPI communities through entrepreneurship, workforce development, and wealth creation. AAPIs are integral to the success of the American economy — Census data shows that in 2019 alone, the AAPI community earned more than $783.7 billion in income, paid more than $167.9 billion in federal income taxes and almost $72.5 billion in state and local taxes. A pre-pandemic Neilson study projected the collective buying power of Asian Americans to reach $1.3 trillion in 2022.
There were an estimated 612,194 Asian-owned businesses in the United States in 2020, and an estimated 23.7% or 145,714 of them were in the Accommodation and Food Services sector. Asian-owned businesses had the largest estimated receipts ($841.1 billion) among minority race groups. By increasing investment into local economies, we have the ability to uplift and revitalize local communities, and create social resilience.
While we have pride in what we’ve achieved, we must also acknowledge that AAPIs have the largest wealth gap of any ethnic group, due to factors including historical discrimination, language barriers, and cultural differences. Closing this divide is critical for increasing economic opportunity, reducing inequality, and improving health outcomes for those communities.
Financial stability and economic mobility all contribute to empowered individuals, who will then have greater resources and capacity to better champion their causes, back the candidates who fight for their interests, push for beneficial reforms, provide for future generations, and invest more in community-serving nonprofits.
Media and entertainment significantly influences the way people think and perceive certain groups. By increasing AAPI representation in the media, we can increase our visibility, combat harmful stereotypes and promote more accurate and diverse portrayals of AAPI individuals and communities. Although there has been progress in recent years, AAPIs are still underrepresented in media compared to population numbers, highlighting the need for more culturally inclusive content. For example, according to a 2021 USC Annenberg report, only 5.9% of all speaking roles on 1,300 top movies between 2007 and 2019 were AAPI characters.
Even more crucial, it is imperative that AAPIs themselves are empowered to shape their own narratives, to tell their own stories and portray their lived experiences through writing, reporting, directing, producing and acting. For example, a 2020 study by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy found that AAPIs were mentioned in only 3.1% of New York Times articles from 2016 to 2019.
In addition to representation in the media and entertainment industry, inclusive representation of AAPI history, contributions and experiences in education is vital. This enhances cross-cultural understanding and inclusion from a young age, and allows AAPI students to see themselves reflected in their education, as well as awareness of their own unique and important histories in the United States.
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