Obama And Being An Honorary AAPI

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I was reading this article in the Washington Post and as much as I want Obama to win his bid to become the President - I can't help but kind of go "but..." when I read the part that went like this:

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) introduced Obama at the fundraiser, held in a ballroom of Washington's posh Mayflower Hotel, noting that Obama's family includes Asian Americans and that he spent part of his childhood in Indonesia.

"The son of an immigrant, raised among AAPI's in Hawaii, Barack Obama understands the struggles of immigrants searching for an identity in America," he said.

The candidate's entrance was greeted by an extended ovation. His 20-minute speech dwelled heavily on immigration and Asian-American issues, as well as his own background. Born in Hawaii, raised for a time in Indonesia, Obama said his first college roommates were Pakistani and Indian. "Most importantly," he said, "I have a sister who is half Indonesian, who is married to a Chinese Canadian. I don't know what that makes my niece."

"Being here is especially meaningful to me because I consider myself to be an honorary AAPI member, and I think I've got some pretty good credentials," he said.
I guess to me it falls short because you're not Asian American or even an honorary AAPI member (because in that context nothing like that even exists) just because you have some Asian American family members and you understand the immigrant experience. It might help you in understanding aspects of certain Asian American communities, but it doesn't really make you a part of the group because to be Asian American, you have to be Asian American.

I'm not saying it's wrong to look to those parts of his life that will help him connect with the AAPI community or talking about it for an article - because it's good fodder to chew on.

But when all is said and done - if Obama wins - I'll still be here hoping for a day when I see an Asian American in the same place that he is now.