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.
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.”
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