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APIAVote Hosts Successful Convening

convening

Earlier this month, APIAVote partners from all across the country came to Washington, DC to attend APIAVote’s two-day convening and reconnect, learn, discuss strategy, and outline the road map to building AAPI power in 2024 and beyond!

convening panel

We kicked the first day of the convening centered on developing short and long-term strategies for recruiting AAPI candidates. AAPI elected officials make up less than 1% of all elected officials, despite representing over 7% of the population – speakers stressed the importance of running to not just change this statistic, but make effective change for our communities across the country at all levels of government. 

For Virginia State Delegate Irene Shin, she “ran because [she] fundamentally [believes] that state and local politics matter.” Whether it’s the simple belief state and local government matter most, it’s implementing solutions for ending anti-Asian hate, or protecting our democracy – there are many reasons community members might be motivated to run. It’s on us to not only inspire and prepare them to run, but also continue to support them even after they are elected.

The agenda also included what ranked-choice voting is and how it works and how to be a thoughtful partner for Pacific Islander communities. We then held several strategy sessions focused on a variety of topics such as the importance of building cross-issue and cross-racial infrastructure in the fight for an inclusive and representative education system, pushing back against the threat anti-China rhetoric and rising geopolitical tensions pose, and the urgency for AAPIs to be a part of the gun reform movement while addressing the concerns many in our communities have regarding public safety and rising anti-Asian hate.

julie su

Day two of the convening opened with an inspiring speech from the Honorable Julie Su. We then delved in a variety of panels focusing on communications strategies – strategies to not only remind our communities of the power we hold, but ensure the rest of the country knows we do too. 

Panels discussed the importance of using our digital capabilities to connect data and cultural values, ways to talk about mis- and disinformation with our loved ones, tactics to push back against problematic narratives as an organization, and what to know about the rise of artificial intelligence as it relates to our work.

NBC anchor and panelist Richard Lui emphasized the importance of “being intersectional in our pitches…we [must] tell stories about our communities, but explain these are really stories about America.” Lui offered an example of when he pitched a story about “yellow face,” tying it to how blackface is still alive and well. By making this connection, he was able to get the green light on this story, and have its relevance and significance more easily understood by a great number of listeners. 

These lessons will help our network of partners not only educate our communities, but prepare us to be the experts that journalists look to to understand our communities, amidst for the onslaught of narratives that will inevitably be spread about AAPIs.

aaja panel

We ended our convening by joining the Asian American Journalists Association for their convention across the street – where we spoke to a crowd of about 100 Asian American journalists. We co-hosted a panel featuring Neil Ruiz from Pew Research, Karthick Ramakrishnan from AAPI Data, and Alexander Falco of TargetSmart. The second half of the session featured several of our local partners from battleground states.

Falco went over data showing how AAPI voter turnout has risen in the past couple of years, and featured the projected impact AAPIs will make in 2024. He pointed out how AAPI registrants are growing at a rate of 1.28 times larger than the AAPI voting-age population, showing just how enthusiastic our communities are and just how our partners’ work is making the difference.

Ramakrishnan went on to emphasize the importance of journalists giving meaning to this data, because without context and explanation – it will not reach the audiences that need to hear it the most. To finish off the panel, Ruiz presented brand new data about Asian Americans’ views on the United States, China, and other countries. We learned that 78 percent of Asian Americans view the United States favorably and while most have a favorable view of their ancestral homelands – would not move back. 

Journalists then had the opportunity to hear from several of our state and local partners, including representatives from Freedom, Inc (WI), Asian Community Development Council (NV), Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, AZ Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders for Equity, Rising Voice Fund (MI), Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance (PA), Asian TX for Justice, and NC Asian Americans Together. They shared stories on how to sustain and build upon their successes and work on voter education, voter mobilization, and fighting voter suppression.

For instance, Eric Jeng shared Asian Community Development Council “hosted Asian Night Markets, ‘Baby’s Goats for Your Votes,’  ‘K-Pop giveaways,’ and shuttle buses going from boba places to voting centers” in their efforts to get AAPI voters in Nevada out to vote.

Partners also explained how political parties must do more to reach out to AAPI communities, and how journalists can be better attuned to the work they are doing.

Over the course of two days, we developed a deeper understanding of the issues impacting our communities, and what our next steps must be. It is clear that AAPI communities are fed up with being used as a wedge. We understand that we need to improve and refine our messaging and be proactive in addressing the issues impacting AAPIs. Not only must we be proactive, we must be loud. We cannot allow others to define or exploit us for their political agendas. APIAVote and our network of partners are committed to combatting these tactics.

 

View more photos here!