May 21, 2020 / Blog

Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with the DNCC Team

This May, the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) joins millions across the country in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) to recognize the history and contributions of Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Americans. We also want to take this opportunity to recognize the diverse perspectives of our AAPI staff at the DNCC.

As an Associate Director of Allied Groups leading AAPI outreach for our convention, I’m motivated by an unshakeable belief that a fully inclusive, engaged AAPI community has the potential to help transform this country for the better. This month is a wonderful opportunity to have a national dialogue about how far we’ve come as a community and where we go from here.

We know that the AAPI community is becoming an increasingly important part of the Democratic Party. This community is the fastest growing racial and ethnic group in the United States, and the Asian American voting population alone has increased by 139% in the last 20 years. My colleague Janice explains how APAHM is vital to increasing AAPI visibility.

“Growing up, I rarely saw or heard stories celebrating people of Asian descent in the media or history books. Celebrating APAHM is important to carve out opportunities and highlight those who shaped this country to what it is today.”

Janice Lee, Associate Manager of Hospitality

AAPI voters helped make history during the 2018 midterm elections, when 77% of AAPI voters voted for a Democratic House candidate. That represents the largest percent increase from the 2014 midterm election of any racial group. For Dae, this illustrates the importance of the AAPI community in 2020 and beyond.

“The AAPI community represents a relatively untapped, but growing voting bloc that can help ensure that minority rights, immigrant rights, and progressive causes are advanced with a Democratic administration.”

Dae Yi, Deputy Chief Technology Officer

APAHM this year comes at a fraught time for the AAPI community, who have been the targets of hate crimes and bias incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The online hate incident reporting platform Stop AAPI Hate registered over 1,500 anti-Asian hate incidents between mid-March and mid-April. Additionally, the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in many states. In Colorado, for example, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders comprise 1.61% of COVID-19 deaths, while making up just 0.12% of the population.

This past March, Congresswoman and DNC Vice Chair Grace Meng—the first Asian American elected to Congress from New York—put forward a resolution in the House of Representatives that condemns all forms of racism and scapegoating, and officially denounces any anti-Asian sentiments in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. This resolution was widely supported and passed in both the House and Senate.

The Democratic Party’s fundamental values of equity and inclusivity speak strongly to many AAPI voters. 

“Democrats have sought to meet AAPI voters where they are and understand the issues important to them. They have made investments in in-language ads, multi-language translations that reflect the diversity of the AAPI community, and hired AAPI staff in key elections across the country to mobilize voters.”

Phil Kim, Senior Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement

For the AAPI community, language access is especially important for voter education and turnout due to the sheer number of languages spoken by the AAPI community. Asian Americans come from 19 origin groups from East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent, speaking at least 50 different languages (not including regional and subregional dialects). And there are also at least 39 Pacific Island languages spoken as a second language in the U.S. “I wish that more of the country understood how diverse our community is and took time to understand the nuances within the AAPI identity,” says Rina Patel, an Associate Director of Allied Groups. 

The Democratic Party’s commitment to bringing everyone to the table is reflected in the diversity of staff at the DNCC. Many, like IT Technician Chris Kim, are working for the convention for the first time, motivated by a desire to “change the current course [of our country] and be a part of something bigger than myself.”

Others, like Amy, are veterans of the Convention.

“This is my third Convention, and I love so much about them. It’s the culmination of a national conversation about what the country needs from a leader at that moment. With each iteration, we are more inclusive, more thoughtful, and more dynamic.”

Amy Chiou, Deputy Director of Finance and Administration

This year, we recognize the ways in which Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have helped define citizenship, culture, entrepreneurship, and public service in the United States for centuries.

As we look toward the convention in August, and the general election in November, the AAPI community has a key role in not only defeating Donald Trump, but also making sure the Democratic Party and our country are stronger, more accepting, and more forward-thinking than ever before.