Saturday, April 11, 2009

Texas seems to have a surplus of idiot legislators

From Think Progress among many outlets:

Texas lawmaker Betty Brown: Asians should change their names to make them easier for Americans to deal with.

What? Really?

Lee is too difficult? How about Chung? Wait, wait, I know, it's Chang, Low, or Lew. It's really those Japanese names, like Devin Setoguchi, a star forward for the San Jose Sharks. Perhaps Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston who wrote about her own painful experiences in one of America's most shameful chapters, imprisoning its own citizens on Japanese descent in the award winning "Farewell to Manzanar". How about Evergreen Community College Trustee Randy Okamura, that's a tongue twister. I bet Betty Brown, the Texas legislator who made this asinine comment and wanted the Asian population to change their names would surely like Randy to become Randy Smith or probably Randy Brown in order to make her life easier.

I grew up in Santa Clara Valley and it has always been a magnet for people seeking a better life. Before a silicon wafer was an idea and a computer was the size of an elephant, the valley was an agricultural hub, full of orchards, prunes, cherries, citrus and called the Valley of the Heart's Delight.

The population was not nearly as diverse as today. The current demographics show the population to be 64% either immigrant or children of immigrants. California is a majority minority state. We are growing and changing together in this valley. Our successes are interdependent on each other as much as our need to understand each other culturally.

Forming political coalitions has made us more effective. I have worked on campaigns with Asian candidates, learning different cultural norms, ways of approaching problems, respecting different points of views. I have always come away far more educated and wiser from the variety of experiences. In the Prop 8 elections, the Asian Pacific American (APA) population voted the most heavily for equality, well over 60% voted no. At my own wedding in August the guests were over 50% a combination of Latino and APA. I looked out and saw the faces of my friends, family and the reality of California.

In an earlier post about same sex marriage, someone said this lgbt civil rights movement is not the same as earlier movements based on race or gender. I wonder why, then, Dolores Huerta stands firmly with us? Coretta Scott King, when she was alive, said we are part of the civil rights movement. I know I can always count on State Assemblyman Paul Fong to stand up for equality for all no matter what setting, no matter how difficult the conversation. The same is true for San Jose City Councilor Madison Nguyen, Congressman Mike Honda, Asian Americans for Community Involvement Executive Director Michele Lew. It's a very long list of APA politicians who are allies and friends.

My generation understands a lot of things today. Our parents understand and our grandparents understand racism and discrimination. No one wants to be treated the way we have been treated. No camps, no name calling, no segregation, no calls to change our names. We wear our names proudly because it has taken us a long time to get to this place where our President has a different kind of name and a different color skin.

So, no, Ms Betty Brown, we are not going to change our names, not in Texas and not in California. For once it is not all about you and your folks. We learned that lesson, too.

Here's another really important one. When is your re-election? Lots of us are going send some money to your opponent. Maybe even go work on that campaign. Together.

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