Community, Headline, Politics

Asian Americans must be in decision making rooms: Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris at the AAPI Victory Celebration & Next Generation Leaders Reception

AAPI Victory Fund hosts AAPI Victory Celebration & Next Generation Leaders Reception at Kennedy Center

Vice President Kamala Harris has called upon Asian American voters to once again be the margin of victory in November midterm elections to ensure they are in the rooms where decisions are being made.

“It is not hyperbole to say: What we do between now and November will determine the future of our nation. Truly,” she said at the AAPI Victory Celebration & Next Generation Leaders Reception on May 20 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

The event was hosted by the AAPI Victory Power Fund focused on strengthening American democracy by tapping into the collective power of more than 11.1 million Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander voters across the United States.

Read: AAPI Victory Fund endorses New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (October 22, 2021)

“We need to make sure that AA and NHPI (Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders) voices are heard at the ballot boxes around our country, just as we need to make sure that those voices are represented in all levels of government,” said Harris.

“Asian Americas must be in the rooms where the decisions are being made.  Because when policies reflect our experiences — our collective experiences — our perspectives, I am certain of one thing: Our country is stronger and our country is more just,” she said amid applause.

“We have the work in front of us that we are doing just this very evening to support the AAPI Victory Fund, knowing that it mobilizes and turns out voters, and that that work could not be more important in this moment,” said Harris.

“And just think about it.  We have a track record of knowing it makes a huge difference,” she said noting, “Two years ago, the work of this group and these leaders helped send President Joe Biden and me to the White House.”

“Yeah.  And turn the Senate blue!  Yes!,” added Harris amid more applause.

“And because of the work of the Victory Fund and the support and the hard work in 2020, our country is, therefore, getting back on track. And this year, then, we need our voters,” she said noting “Asian voters were the margin of victory in 2020.”

“So as the midterm elections draw near, we know that so much is at stake: the progress we have already made; the progress we must make on voting rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights; the work we must do to bring down costs, to create good-paying jobs, union jobs; the work we must do to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to succeed, no matter where their grandmother was born,” said Harris.

“The President and I remain focused, as do we all, on the path forward toward a better future for all people.  A future free from the dark scourge of hate,” she said.

Read: AAPI Victory Fund endorses Cincinnati mayoral candidate Aftab Pureval (March 22, 2021)

“A future where every child can reach their potential; where every community is safe and healthy; and yes, where every woman gets to make decisions about her own body” she said.

“I believe, as I know we all do, that we can build that future together,” said Harris. “So let us continue with our work, having confidence that what we are doing is making a difference.

“But here’s the deal: I believe there is nothing that we have achieved in this nation that has been about progress that did not come with hard work and, yes, struggle, and sometimes a good fight,” she said.

“We’re up for it, so let’s continue to do this good work together,” Harris exhorted.

Harris also thanked AAPI Victory Fund chairman Shekar Narasimhan, Aftab Pureval, first Indian American mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio and other elected Asian Americans for their leadership.

“Think about it: Since the time of the 2020 election, our administration, together — all of us, working together — we’ve taken action to protect our AA and NHPI communities,” Harris said.

The Biden-Harris administration, she noted, had “appointed more Asian Americans at every level in our government, including to the federal judiciary.  And we know what that means.”

Meanwhile, a new brand called #OurVote, a collaboration between designers Prabal Gurung and Phillip Lim and the AAPI Victory Fund, led by Brad Jenkins, was also launched at the May 20 event.

Read: AAPI to host 40th Annual Convention in San Antonio in June 2022 (November 18, 2021)

This partnership came about after the trio connected through their own organizing work around the Stop Asian Hate movement, according to Teen Vogue.

House of Slay – a community-centric digital space founded in 2021 will also be home to the newly-launched #OurVote, which includes a collection of merchandise including sweatshirts, t-shirts, baseball caps, and tote bags with silhouettes and styles geared towards youth.

It utilizes a webcomic series featuring five prolific Asian fashion moguls (namely Phillip Lim, Prabal Gurung, Laura Kim, Tina Leung, and Ezra William) as a group of superheroes that combat a villain aptly referred to as the God of Darkness (also known as… Racism.)

Multiple different cultures are represented in each piece, with the word “vote” translated into several languages and dialects from the Asian continent.

#OurVote will be available on the House of Slay online shop starting May 27.

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