North Carolina Senators Jay Chaudhuri (D-15) and Mujtaba Mohammed (D-38) are highlighting their Family Heritage during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month and encouraging other Asian Americans to participate in elections and make their voices heard.
“Here’s my challenge to my fellow Asian Americans: Celebrate and share your family’s story,” said Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (D-15) in a recent OP-ED. “Build on the love and values your parents instilled in you. And, bring your voice to the table by getting involved in this coming election.”
- Like many others, the effects of the pandemic weigh heavy on my mind. The coronavirus has upended our daily routines and threatens to permanently change our lives. One thing is certain — the struggle simply does not discriminate.
- My parents, like the generations of immigrants that came before them, left a life they knew behind to chase the American dream. My family’s heritage that began in India but now is firmly rooted in the South shaped me into the person I am today.
- Asian Americans are the fastest growing demographic group in the country, and the fastest growing in North Carolina.
- I’ve also been encouraged seeing Asian American leadership and participation in our communities. Members of the Chinese American Friendship Association of North Carolina donated more than 30,000 masks and thousands of face shields to hospitals, local towns and first responders.
- As we enter the election season, Asian Americans must carry out such participation in the November election, too. Today, North Carolina ranks as one of the most important political battleground states in the country.
- Asian Americans are poised to be the deciding vote in key races up and down the ballot. We have incredible untapped political power within our community. In 2018, for example, Asian Americans turned out to vote in record numbers, but it was still comparatively low, especially among young people.
- Not every elected official jokes about disappointing their parents “because I ended up becoming a lawyer” or shares what they’ve learned from “Asian uncles,” but North Carolina state Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed does.
- Though his parents pushed him toward medicine and engineering, seeing those fields as markers of success, Mohammed credits their focus on family and community as inspiration for his career in public service.
- He noted that in many Asian cultures, “it’s never about you, as opposed to the American individualism that we have,” he said. “It’s always about a team, it’s always about your family. You oftentimes have to make your own personal sacrifices for the good of the family. And that’s kind of how I’ve always, at least as an adult, tried to live my life. It’s part of the reason why I decided to run for office.”
- In all fields where Asian Americans are underrepresented, it’s crucial for them “to be at the table” and “begin to write our own narrative,” Mohammed said, advising Asians “to get involved, because nobody else is going to do it, because there’s not that many of us.”
- “It’s so important for our young people and our children to think outside of the box and, you know, practice law, go into journalism, get into acting or comedy, because we still don’t have people on television that look like us,” he said. “Don’t expect somebody else to come write your story for you.”