By Grace Zhang
If you’re like me, Andrew Yang is quite a curiosity. A speck of color in the very white-washed world that politics tends to be. I blinked quite a few times when he announced that he would be running. But now, after months to get to know him, I’ve forgotten what made me hopeful in the first place.
Personally, I don’t think he’s done a bad job. In fact, I support many of his proposals and campaign promises. But, for many people I know, what matters isn’t really his ideas, but the fact that he’s Asian. Historically underrepresented in politics, Andrew Yang proved to be a spark of hope among my Asian family and friends. (Currently there are 14 Asians in the House of Representatives and 3 in the Senate which are .03% and 3% respectively. The U.S. is 5% Asian-American). But, to my disappointment and my parents’ dismay, very rarely does Yang ever mention China.
Sometimes my mother mentions moving to New Zealand or somewhere equally far away. Often I can’t tell if it’s a joke or not, but with rising anti-China sentiments and scary rumors, I have a hard time hearing any humor in her voice. Though probably unfounded, the fear that one day my existence (I’m Chinese) may not be so welcome anymore sometimes keeps me up at night. While I’m in no way sympathetic to the Chinese government, I’m afraid that my heritage has come to represent something more than what it is. Grossly misconstrued in the media, I feel that the Chinese have become a sort of monster, one that hides under your bed waiting for the right moment to take your jobs, steal your intellectual property, and pass yet another tariff.
Sometimes people seem to forget that I’m an American. That I have my foot in two different doors but really fit through none. This feeling that I don’t quite belong has been a theme throughout my entire life, one that I’ve accepted but I’m not quite comfortable with. It’s for this reason that Yang’s silence when it comes to China is discouraging. A simple Google search reveals little to no information; I have no idea what his stance really is. The future of American-Chinese relations is incredibly important to me, especially since sometimes it’s hard for some to completely separate what I look like from what I am. How can I trust a man meant to represent me and my people when I don’t even know what he thinks about something as intimately connected to me as this? So Andrew, you may be afraid of the negative consequences mentioning our homeland will have on your campaign, but your fear won’t be getting my vote.