A very good evening to all of you.
It is with grateful of good citizenship and personal privilege for me to be here today among all the distinguished community leaders. No impersonal representation of a culture or ethnicity can fully communicate its reality to others who have never known its living substance. Through personal relations – our curiosity can be fulfilled by a sense of knowledge; cynicism can give way to trust, and the warmth of human friendship to be kindled.
Generations of Asian Americans have helped make America what it is today. Their histories recall bitter hardships and proud accomplishments. Despite facing racial discrimination, hatred, violence, bigotry and even internment, Asian Americans served this country with honor and patriotism. Time and time again, they proved that, as President Franklin Roosevelt said, “Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry.” Today, nearly 5 percent of soldiers serving in the U.S. Armed Forces are of AsAm – that is over 124,000 AsAm’s currently serving in our armed forces. More than 300,000 AsAm veterans have bravely served our nation.
Asian Americans comprise many ethnicities and languages, and their myriad achievements embody the American experience. We must remember that often Asian American face significant adversity. As you just saw the slid show presentation. Many AsAm communities continue to fight prejudice and struggle to overcome disparities in education, employment, housing, and health care.
It is therefore our patriotic and moral duty to dedicate ourselves to the continued quest for equality and justice for all. For ourselves, for future generations and for the nation we love.
I was asked by a friend why are you doing this, why you involved? Well I don’t know how to respond, so I said, there are 7.118 Billion people in the world according to United States Census Bureau, out of 7.118 B almost 3.8 billion people lives with less than $2.50 a day and I’m so fortunate not to be in that group of population, so I asked myself what can I do? Can I be the voice for the voiceless, can I be the power for the powerless, can I lend my hands to make world a little better place. So I opened my eyes and start talk about discrimination that led me to understand how we are so disproportionally discriminated, this is the greatest country on earth, but we can’t ignore the fact that discrimination exist in every level.
It is not about republican or democrats, or independent or no party affiliation; it is about what is right and rightfully be ours. There are many non-profit organizations doing wonderful work, but they can’t do what NAAPAC is capable of because of their 501c3 status prohibit from any political activities, there for NAAPAC can work in harmony with all of those Asian organizations and actively to create bloc vote.
Florida is a pivotal battleground state in every recent presidential election—no candidate can win the White House without winning FL (along with OH). As such, Asian Americans in FL have become the surrogate representative of Asian Americans’ political voice and aspirations nationally. In assuming this enormous responsibility, we are mindful of our fiduciary duties to our community and to our nation and we believe America is strengthened and enriched when all Asian Americans are accorded equal opportunity to reach their full potential. To become all that they are capable of being.
The shocking extent of discrimination and inequality that Asian Americans have endured for two centuries is well documented. They are not going to go away quickly no matter how fervently we wish, or how gently we “persuade” our lawmakers to redress them. Just look at where we are with the Alien Land Law in FL.
Just like the African Americans in the 50’s and 60’s, we have to begin our civil rights quest in ERNEST—not by a quiet discussion in the corner, not by being the last topic of an agenda, if on the agenda at all, but by being front and center conscience and activities. Justice and equality delayed is justice and equality DENIED.
We are so used to believing in ourselves that many of our fellow Asian-Americans also naïvely believe that everything is possible by individual effort alone. If our community becomes smarter politically, we can become the mouse that roars and be kingmakers (national presidential) politics. This is our privilege and sacred responsibility—to use our political power—to advance the civil rights cause on behalf of all Asian American.
We must unite to fight for comprehensive immigration reform so 4.3 million Family Visa that are in waiting list can be expedited, of the 4.3 million applicants nearly half of them are from Asian Countries, just to give you few updates.
Bangladesh – 161731
China – 226921
Philippines – 423449
India – 306789
Vietnam – 267067
NAAPAC is an organization of diverse volunteers. We have neither enough manpower nor money, so we appreciate all the volunteers who step forth to serve. Naturally, we have different abilities and perspectives and like any human being with frailties and imperfections, we don’t always manage to communicate with clarity and sensitivity. Sometimes our intentions are misconveyed, or our passion makes us appear overbearing and actually offended.
Civil rights causes are no more “ideologies” than fundamental human rights. It’s not about whether we should cut welfare spending and invest more in defense. IF we don’t want to open our eyes and see the facts as they are laid before us; IF Asian Americans themselves want to avoid hearing the ugly truth about how our best youths are being held back by the highest bars to admission at top schools, how our top engineers and scientist are not promoted because of prejudice they cannot be true Americans and could even be spies—HOW then, are we ever going to right this wrong, when our own ranks become uncomfortable by NAAPAC bringing the urgent civil rights issues into the limelight? IF we object to their talking about the issues as being bombarded by them, and cramming ideologies down throats, then how ELSE are we EVER going to reach the promised land of equality?
Remember, we are not advocating better opportunities or preferential treatment at the expense of any other ethnic group. We are seeking only a fair chance at the American dream. When Asian Americans get a fair chance, our whole nation benefits as we contribute disproportionally to the intellectual and entrepreneurial capital of this nation.
There is every reason to be PROUD (not ashamed) of what we are trying to accomplish. And yes, we can hold our head high with pride and self-respect and we can look in the eyes of future generations of Asian Americans and ALL Americans and say, “I did this, for you.”
JFK once said, “Of those much is given, much is expected.” Today, as leaders of our community, we hold the privileged position and sacred duty to pave a path of equal opportunity and justice for future generations of Asian American.
The mission is critical; the task is challenging and lonely. There is NO ONE ELSE to turn to or give the task to. We are it. This movement will grow or die by your decision to support us or forsake us. Our quest is noble, our challenge is enormous, our mission is sacred and we must not fail. We must not fail our children.