Constance Wu, Celeste Ng, prominent Asian Americans endorse Elizabeth Warren

More than 100 Asian American and Pacific Islander creatives, activists, and academics endorsed the Democratic presidential candidate in an exclusive statement on Thursday.
Image: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., takes the stage during a campaign event at Iowa State University in Ames on Oct. 21, 2019.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., takes the stage during a campaign event at Iowa State University in Ames on Oct. 21, 2019.Daniel Acker / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

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By Kimmy Yam

More than 100 prominent Asian American and Pacific Islanders — creatives, activists and academics — announced their support Thursday for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

The collective includes notable names like “Crazy Rich Asians” actress Constance Wu; author Celeste Ng; Rabia Chaudry, attorney and author of “Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After 'Serial'”; and the CEO of Project Include and former CEO of Reddit, Ellen Pao. The collective cites Warren's stance on a number of issues important to the Asian American community, including immigration, education and investment in entrepreneurship among the reasons for its support.

Constance Wu and Celeste Ng.Getty Images

The group explained in an exclusive statement that they “agree unreservedly with their assessment and assertion that Senator Warren’s experience, policies and character — and her support of broad inclusion, her profound empathy and her openness to input and change — are unique among the 2020 candidates.”

The group -- spearheaded by journalist Jeff Yang, writer and documentary filmmaker Curtis Chin and Laura Shin, founder of Korean Americans for Obama and Korean Americans for Hillary -- was inspired to formally endorse Warren as a cohesive front by 100 Black Women for Elizabeth Warren, a group that describes itself as “an organizing collective of leaders, activists, artists, writers and political strategists from across the country in the fight for Black Liberation.”

No one candidate has definitively clinched the Asian American vote. Two in 5 Asian American registered voters did not identify themselves as either Democrat or Republican, according to the 2018 Asian American Voter Survey.

Pao said she is primarily concerned with the issue of inequality pertaining to health care, living wages, housing, job opportunities, voting rights and other topics. She said she feels Warren has the ability “to address fundamental issues of fairness and opportunity for all, to improve quality of life for everyone, and to bridge divides.”

“All of these issue about fairness are relevant to Asian Americans, who suffer from discrimination, harassment and bias in different ways,” Pao said. “I believe she is the only candidate remaining who understands and cares about intersectionality and will make sure we don't leave anyone behind.”

As Pao pointed out, Asian Americans confront inequities, even as a minority group. The community currently has the nation’s largest income gap among races, with Asians at the top 10 percent of the income distribution earning almost 11 times as much as Asians at the bottom 10 percent, according to Pew Research.

One member of the collective, Anil Kalhan, an immigration law professor at Drexel University, said that he is particularly interested in Warren’s immigration plan. According to Pew Research, 59 percent of the Asian American population was born in another country. That statistic jumps to 73 percent when looking at adult Asians.

“The moment that sealed the deal in my support for Senator Warren was when she released her impressive plan to reform immigration in July 2019,” Kalhan said. “She came out much earlier than most of the other candidates with a strong, detailed and genuinely comprehensive vision to reform immigration that goes beyond simply reversing the damage done under Trump's presidency.”

Jenny Han, author of “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” series, explained that she is confident in Warren’s follow-through.

“Elizabeth Warren is more than just a person with great plans. She's a person with the drive and perseverance to see those plans through,” Han wrote. “She's smart, she's a fighter, and I believe she has the experience necessary to lead this country with empathy and strength.”

When it comes to Democratic presidential candidates, analysis on third quarter filings with the Federal Election Commission shows that the entrepreneur Andrew Yang is the top recipient of Asian American donations. However Christine Chen, executive director of APIAVote, a nonpartisan civic engagement nonprofit, previously told NBC News that the donor population may not be perfectly reflective of the overall group’s voting population as the donor community tends to be less diverse.

In fact, a joint survey between AAPI Data and the Public Religion Research Institute of AAPI voters in California, the state with the racial group’s largest population, revealed that 45 percent found former Vice President Joe Biden favorable, the highest proportion. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont followed closely behind at 43 percent.

One Asian American super PAC, AAPI Victory Fund, has already announced its support for Biden. In a statement provided to NBC News last week, the group’s chairman, Shekar Narasimhan, said that “we believe that Joe Biden is the best candidate to defeat Trump and lead our country.”

Read the list of endorsers below:

Geri Sanchez Agilpay (IL), Small business and economic development advocate

Tanzila Ahmed (CA), Founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY). Artist and Storyteller #GoodMuslimBadMuslim #MuslimVDayCards

Sasha Neha Ahuja (NY), Community Organizer and Hillary for America Alum

Sefa Aina (CA), Board Chair, Founding Member of EPIC (Empowering Pacific Islander Communities); Former Vice-Chair, Obama’s Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Liz Hsiao Lan Alper (CA), TV writer (Chicago Fire, The Rookie); WGAW board of directors; equity and inclusion advocate

Subini Annamma (CA), Associate Professor of Education, Author of The Pedagogy of Pathologization: Dis/abled Girls of Color in the School-Prison Nexus

Gina Apostol (NY), Novelist, Author, Insurrecto

Frank Aum (DC), Former Senior Advisor on North Korea at Pentagon under Obama Administration

K.J. Bagchi (DC), Co-Founder/Immediate Past Board Chair, Desis for Progress

Vidhi Bamzai (MS), Civil Rights Attorney, Southern Poverty Law Center

Ginny Barahona (NJ), International Development & Philanthropy, Former Obama Appointee

Amanda Baran (VA), Attorney and Writer; Former Senior DHS Immigration Official and Senior Advisor to WHIAAPI Under Obama

Marie Bigham (LA), Co-Founder and Executive Director, ACCEPT: Admissions Community Cultivating Equity & Peace Today

Iram Parveen Bilal (CA), Filmmaker, Artivist; Former Chair, Asian American Committee, Writers Guild of America; Founder, Qalambaaz, #PakistaniCinema, #womendirectors

Gregory A. Cendana (DC), Dancer, Strategist and Entrepreneur

Dr. Stephen Chao (TX), Family Physician; Community Advocate; Former President of Chinese American Doctors Association of Houston

Rabia Chaudry (DC), Attorney and Advocate; New York Times bestselling author; executive producer, The Case Against Adnan Syed

Karen Chee (NY), Comedian and TV Writer

Preeti Chhibber (CA), Author and Podcaster

Curtis Chin (CA), Writer and Documentary Filmmaker, Tested and Vincent Who?

Li-Chen Chin (NC), Assistant Vice President for Intercultural Programs and Instructor, Program in Education, Duke University

Dennis Chin (NY), Racial Justice Educator, Communicator and Queer Activist

Chang Chiu (TX), Co-Founder, Chinese American Progressive Action

Dr. Esther Choo (OR), Emergency Medicine Physician; Writer; Health Services Researcher; Healthcare Equity Advocate

Tracy Chou (CA), Software Engineer; Entrepreneur; Diversity advocate; Founder and CEO of Block Party; Co-Founder of Project Include, #MovingForward, and Arena

Olivia Chow (CA), Activist and Organizer

Keith Chow (MD), Writer, Editor, Podcaster, and Creator of The Nerds of Color

Arthur Chu (OH), Writer, Cultural Commentator; Jeopardy Champion

Navneet Chugh (CA), Attorney; Founder, South Asian Bar Association

Nicole Chung (MD), Author, All You Can Ever Know; Co-Editor of the Forthcoming Anthology A Map Is Only One Story; Editor in Chief, Catapult Magazine; Former Managing Editor, The Toast

Deborah S. Craig (NY), Broadway and TV Actor

Selma D’Souza (IL), Community Activist; Attorney

Vinh Dang (PA) , Co-Founder, Dang-inh Productions

Anil Dash (NY), CEO, Glitch; Advocate for Ethics and Inclusion in Tech; Pioneering Blogger and Host of the Podcast “Function”

Shilpa Dave (VA), Professor of Media Studies, University of Virginia

E.J.R. David (AK/WA), Professor of Psychology, University of Alaska-Anchorage. Author of Brown Skin, White Minds: Filipino/American Postcolonial Psychology; We have not stopped trembling yet: Letters to my Filipino-Athabascan Family

Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis (MD), Curator, Editor, Writer, Scholar; The Asian American Literary Review

Ramona Diaz (MD), Documentary Filmmaker, Motherland; Imelda

A.C. Dumlao (NY), Transgender Advocate, Activist, and Writer

Tuyet Duong (MD), Former Obama Appointee, Founding Committee of Vietnamese Americans for Hillary, and PIVOT

Aditi Dussault (DC), Obama Administration Appointee

David L. Eng (PA), Richard L. Fisher Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania

Caroline Fan (MO), Community Organizer; Startup Strategist; Former Endorsements Chair, Asian American Action Fund

Jenn Fang (CA), Founder and Editor, Reappropriate (reappropriate.com)

Kip Fulbeck (CA), Distinguished Professor of Art, University of California, Santa Barbara

Shruti Ganguly (NY), Filmmaker; Appointee, Obama Administration’s ECCO committee of influential media and entertainment executives

Gayatri Gopinath (NY), Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis; Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, New York University

Abby Govindan (TX), Comedian and Writer

Sonia Gupta (LA), Attorney; Technologist; Anti-Racism Advocate

Jenny Han (NY), New York Times bestselling author, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You

Pakou Her (MO), Principal, Tseng Development Group

Jennifer Ho (CO), Professor; Director, Center for Humanities &the Arts, University of Colorado Boulder,

Tonga Hopai (HI), First Tongan to Serve as White House Intern

Tiffany Hsieh (DC), Political and Community Activist

Yvonne Hsu (DC), Former Obama Appointee

Madeline Hsu (TX), Professor of History and Asian American Studies, The University of Texas at Austin

Vicki Hsueh (WA), Professor of Political Science; Director of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Betsy Huang (MA), Associate Provost; Dean of the College; Klein Distinguished Professor, Clark University

Elena Hung (MD), Disabled Rights Advocate and Mom of Disabled Kid with Complex Medical Needs; Immigrant; Lawyer; Ally

Hyepin Im (CA), President and CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment

Zareen Jaffery (NY), Founder, Salaam Reads,

Gish Jen (MA), Author of The Resisters and other books

Rev. Sandhya Jha (CA), Author of Pre-Post-Racial America and Transforming Communities; Founder and Director, Oakland Peace Center

Anu Joshi (NY), Immigrant Rights Activist

Anil Kalhan (PA), Professor of Law, Drexel University; Visiting Scholar, Center for the Study of Law and Society, University of California, Berkeley

Michael Kang (CA), Sundance Award-Winning Filmmaker

Kathy Khang (IL), Author, Raise Your Voice and More Than Serving Tea; Progressive Faith Advocate,

Jeffrey S. Kim (CA), Former Commissioner, California Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Affairs

Jian Zapata Kim (VA), Former Obama Appointee; Past Vice Chair, Democratic Asian Americans of Virginia; Co-Founder, KAYA: Filipino Americans for Progress (previously Filipinos for Obama)

Ramey Ko (TX), First Asian American Judge in Austin, TX; Former Obama Appointee

Madhavi Krevat (NC), Organizer, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Sarah Kuhn (CA), Author, Heroine Complex; I Love You So Mochi, comic book writer Shadow of the Batgirl

Manjusha Kulkarni (CA), Executive Director, Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council

Preeti Kulkarni (CA), Commissioner, Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission

R.O. Kwon (CA), Nationally bestselling author, The Incendiaries

Thanhha Lai (NY), Author; Winner of National Book Award, Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, Newbery Honor

Heather Laverty (DC), Labor Activist

C.N. Le (MA), Director, Asian and Asian American Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jennifer Lee (NY), Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

Philip Lee (CA), Publisher and Co-Founder, READERS TO EATERS

Stephen Lee (CA), Professor, University of California, Irvine School of Law

Nancy Leong (CO), Professor of Law, University of Denver; author, Identity Capitalists

Amazin LeThi (GA), Athlete, Author, LGBTQ Activist, Athlete Ally ambassador

Ricky Leung (NC), Community Organizer; Boardmember, Durham People’s Alliance

R. Zamora Linmark (HI), Author, Rolling the R’s and The Importance of Being Wilde At Heart

Cezar A. B. Lopez (NY), Former Obama Appointee

Lori Lopez (WI), Associate Professor of Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin – Madison

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (CA), New York Times bestselling author, The Food Lab; NYT columnist; Chief Culinary Consultant for Serious Eats, chef at Wursthall, a modern California beer hall

John Ly (CA), Lawyer, Liang Ly LLP, @johnk_ly

Victor Manalo (CA), Dean, Claremont Core, Claremont Lincoln University

Courtney Milan (CO), New York Times Bestselling Author; Former SCOTUS Clerk Turned #metoo Agitator; Inclusion Advocate, #1 Yuzuru Hanyu Fan

Kristin Mink (MD), Teacher; Activist; Organizer

Mike Mochizuki (DC), Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University DC

Erika Moritsugu (DC), Former Obama Appointee

Aparna Mukherjee (CA), Writer; Systems Thinker; Ex-FUSE Corps Fellow; Executive Advisor, City of Los Angeles

Enormvs Munoz (NY), Actor/Dancer

Joohee Muromcew (WY), Writer and Editor; Content Strategist

Taiyo Na (NY), Musician; Writer; Educator

Kevin Nadal (NY), Professor of Psychology, John Jay College; Author of Filipino American Psychology

Raj Nadella (GA), Samuel A. Cartledge Associate Professor of New Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

Meera Nair (NY), Author, Video:Stories, Activist

Celeste Ng (MA), New York Times Bestselling Author, Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere

Anthony Ocampo (CA), Associate Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona, and author of The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race

Ellen Oh (MD), Middle Grade and Young Adult Author; Co-Founder of WeNeedDiverseBooks

Elizabeth R. OuYang (NY), Community Activist, Civil Rights Lawyer; Educator; Special Assistant to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Under President Clinton

Ellen K. Pao (CA), CEO and Co-Founder, Project Include; Advocate for Inclusion and Ethics in Tech; Former CEO, Reddit; Award-Winning Author, Reset

Annabel Park (VA), Filmmaker, 9500 Liberty

Jacqueline Parker (NJ), US Military Academy Graduate, US Army Veteran, LGBTQIA Christian Activist

Anh Phan (VA), Community Organizer

OiYan Poon (CO), Associate Professor of Higher Education Leadership, Colorado State University

Nisha Ramachandran (DC), Community Advocate; Co-Founder, Desis for Progress

Saira Rao (CO), Co-Founder of Race To Dinner and Haven Media

PJ Raval (TX), Filmmaker, Call Her Ganda; Before You Know It

Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow (CA), Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA); Author, Don’t Be an Asshat and In Defense of Kindness

Kiki Rivera (HI), Playwright; Independent Theater Artist

David S. Roh (UT), Associate Professor of English, University of Utah

Dan Santat (CA), New York Times Bestselling Children’s Author; Graphic Novelist and Animator,

Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons (OR), Unitarian Universalist Minister

Angana Shah (MI), Economic Inclusion and Development Specialist; Attorney

Laura Shin (DC), Founder of Korean American for Obama and Korean Americans for Hillary. Past President, Korean American Democratic Committee of Los Angeles

Valerie Soe (CA), Filmmaker

Vega Subramaniam (MD) , South Asian/LGBTQ activist

Soh Suzuki (MI), Board, Japanese American Citizens Alliance, Detroit Chapter; Board, James and Grace Lee Boggs School

Renee Tajima-Pena (CA), Documentary Filmmaker, Who Killed Vincent Chin?; No Mas Bebes

Edward Tang (AL), Professor and Chair, American Studies, University of Alabama

Theresa Thanjan (NY), National Co-Chair, South Asians for Obama; Documentary Filmmaker, Whose Children Are These?

Bouapha Toommaly (CA), Former Kerry-Edwards Staff; Activist; Daily Kos, Director of Finance,

Viet Tran (DC), Community Advocate and LGBTQ Activist; Former Obama White House AAPI Initiative

Monique Truong (NY), Bestselling Novelist (The Book of Salt; Bitter in the Mouth; The Sweetest Fruit); Librettist; Attorney; Vice President, Authors Guild

Vincent Paolo Villano (NY), Hillary for America Alum

Alton Wang (CA), Community Activist

Esmé Weijun Wang (CA), New York Times-bestselling Author, The Collected Schizophrenias; The Border of Paradise; Speaker; Teacher

Constance Wu (CA), Actor, Hustlers; Crazy Rich Asians; Fresh Off the Boat

Susan Wu (CA), Investor and Startup Advisor

Jeff Yang (CA), Author; Editorial Commentator; Podcast Host, “They Call Us Bruce”

Jenny Yang (CA), Comedian and Writer

Alvina Yeh (CA), Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

Miriam Yeung (NY), Consultant; Former Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

John Yi (CA), Boardmember, Korean American Democratic Committee

Nancy Wang Yuen (CA), Sociologist; Author, Reel Inequality

Joseph Yun (DC), Former US Ambassador and Special Representative for North Korea Policy