North American Chinese immigrants have come a long way. Some were once railway workers losing their lives in the process of building better countries for Westerners. Some were once gold miners living their American dreams all the way from the other side of the globe to the Golden Gate Bridge. Now a lot of are politicians running for public offices and representing the voices of their people.
There is an increase in the number of Chinese immigrants involved in politics. According to Associated Press, three Chinese-American city supervisors have been recently elected. Gotham Gazette reported earlier today that the first Asian American City Council in New York was born.
Despite these numbers, only about 7 percent – or 3 out of 45 county, state and federal elected officials who represent all or parts of the county in 2009 – are minorities, according to Poughkeepsiejournal.
The same thing occurs in Canada. Throughout my undergraduate career at Simon Fraser University, I noticed that few Asians were involved with student politics. For a while, I worked with the campus radio, which was funded by Graduate Student Society, and I was the only non-White person on the Executive Committee. Just a few months ago, there was an additional ethnic face on the team.
UBC is not much different. The Alma Mater Student Society election is just around the corner. Among all candidates, only two, Timothy Chu and Crystal Hon, are Asian. Everyone on this year’s Executive team is white.
Where are all the Asians?
There is a perspective that Asians are generally heavily concentrated on school and thus compromise a lot of time for campus involvement. An article in a September issue of Vancouver Sun said that the children of Chinese immigrants have a 70% university completion rate, which is about 3 times higher than other ethnic populations.
While I agree with it to a certain extent, I find that the root of the problem lies with the ethnic glass ceiling.
Student politicians are usually awarded with monetary compensation, so in that sense, the positions are like jobs, and the voters in this case are like employers.
On the website of National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, a press release includes a newly released data, which shows strong racial discrimination in the advertising industry and it is more than twice as bad now as it was 30 years ago. The bias against the coloured has always been there no matter how subtle and hidden it appears to be.
Campaigning to run for public offices is a form of advertising, or self-promotion, rather. The aspiring politicans are aware of the glass ceiling. At times, they are likely to be highly discouraged and thus held back. This condition explains the lack of ethnic faces in North American’s political profiles….
till this day.
This day, with Obama elected as the first black president of America, race no longer poses as a glascis ceiling for aspiring politicians, who may have been born at a different place, with a different skin colour, but equally human eligible for the opportunity to make a difference in the world.