Erin and I have seen Barack Obama speak three times. We were at Invesco Field for the climactic speech he gave during the Democratic National Convention in Denver. We were in the audience for his interview with CNN during the Unity Conference of journalists of color in Chicago in July. And, almost two years ago, we attended a rally in Aurora, Colorado, we were entranced by his public-speaking ability when he stumped for Ed Perlmutter, the Democratic Congressional candidate in our district.
That was months before Obama officially announced his intention to run for President of the United States, but Erin knew right then and there she’d vote for thr guy. I held out for some months, cynically thinking that because of his race, Hillary Clinton would be the more likely Democrat to win over voters. How wrong I was.
We met Ed Perlmutter the other day, when he and San Jose Congressman Mike Honda, a leader among Asian American pols, came to Sakura Square in downtown Denver, campaigning on Obama’s behalf (Perlmutter is also on the ballot, but although he wasn’t leaving anything to chance, Erin and I had honestly never even heard of his GOP opponent). The two men were in the area trying to ignite interest for the election in the Asian American Pacific Islander community.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders definitely seem more engaged with the political process these days. Maybe it’s the DNC being in Denver that’s made me sensitive to everything that’s going on. Maybe it’s Obama’s Hawai’i connections. Or maybe AAPIs are finally coming out of the shadows and fighting to have our voices heard, and not be invisible anymore.
Here’s an email being distributed by the group, Asian Americans for Obama, by the Hawai’ian-born actress Kelly Hu, who showed up unannounced at an AAPI Caucus meeting during the DNC (shown above):
Internet technology is such a great, rapidly evolving field, that we’re constantly being presented with new ways to tell stories — to do journalism. Who woulda thunk even just 10 years ago that the Internet would be many people’s main source of news and information? Who woulda predicted services such as Facebook, or Twitter, not to mention blogs? How about live streaming video?
All these elements were part of a cool historic moment tonight, when all three Presidential candidates took some time to connect with Asian American voters for a first-ever Town Hall sponsored by an organization called APIA Vote.
The event was held in an auditorium at the University of California at Irvine, an LA suburb, and included the expected speeches and some cool entertainment. JA actor Tamlyn Tomita kicked butt as an engaging, entertaining emcee. Hillary Clinton spoke first to the group via satellite, followed by Barack Obama over the phone, and then a surrogate stand-in for John McCain in person. The whole event was broadcast live over the Internet. A small — too small — group of us in Denver met in a meeting room at the Daniels Fund to watch the live feed. Continue reading