When Barack Obama ran for president, he was forced to repeatedly reassure many Americans that they couldn’t understand a leader who needed less sun protection than they did and whose name would never appear on a cheap gas station key fob.
Anyone who sparked controversy in Obama’s orbit, including his longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright, was pushed aside.
With the lie that Obama shares the same religion as his father, stepfather and the rest of his extended family has been challenged so fiercely, it’s clear that voters on both sides of the political aisle equate Muslims with menacing exoticism and depravity. To prove that Obama had nothing to do with “those people,” his volunteers didn’t even allow two hijab-wearing women to sit behind the then-Democratic presidential candidate at a rally in Detroit.
A lot has changed since that summer of 2008. Two Muslim women now walk the halls of the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, who wears a hijab. In our state, two Muslims, Abdelnasser Rashid and Nabeela Syed, were just sworn into the Illinois State Legislature.
But while the racial, ethnic, and religious makeup of our elected officials has come to reflect the nation’s diversity, the intimidating pushback sanctioned by Donald Trump and other right-wing leaders has become a normalized frenzy, fueled by violence and ignorance .
More than a third of Americans and more than half of Republicans (56%) agree that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so quickly” that “saving it” may require “force “On American Life.
Likewise, a report on preventing gun violence released a week ago by the Giffords Law Center found that gun threats against federal lawmakers increased between January 2021 and October 2022. Women legislators and legislators of color are disproportionately targeted.
When so many Americans are deluded enough to believe their intolerance and personal attacks are feats of patriotism, those who are attacked must speak out.
Asian American politicians and members of the community who have run for office in the past, including Saeed, are encouraged to participate in a survey that will find out how pervasive acts of intimidation and violence against Asian American leaders and candidates are, and Whether women in these groups bear the brunt of the abuse.
More specifically, the goal of the forthcoming study is to document and examine how these experiences influence candidates, representation, and political ambitions, according to its author, Palushah, a professor of Asian American women in politics. Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Sameena Mustafa, my childhood friend who ran against Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley in 2018.
Grace Chan McKibben, a Hyde Park resident who ran for a House seat in Illinois five years ago, said not much academic research has focused on Asian-American politics and the obstacles they may face.
“I think it’s important to do some research and get the real numbers to see how big the problem is, if it’s even a problem,” said Chan McKibben, executive director of the Chinese American Community Coalition.
Syamala Krishnamsetty, a former state representative candidate for the 40th District, added that quantifying anecdotes can not only address the magnitude of the challenge, but also help identify solutions and foster solidarity with other people of color.
Albany Park’s Krishnamsetty hasn’t dealt with much racism in his 2020 campaign, but he said the sexism was palpable.
“You’re lucky you weren’t raped,” Krishnamsetty was told when there was a knock on the door.
Overt aggression from the right is an obvious obstacle, but political candidates from marginalized communities can also be dragged down by supposed allies.
“Witch” is what a member of a grassroots progressive group called Krishnamsetty in an endorsement interview.
During Mustafa’s own short political career, she said Obama appointees and former aides to his top advisers were trying to “defam my reputation as a Muslim woman of color without seeing the irony and sarcasm in their actions.” hypocritical.”
The research, funded by Rutgers University’s Center on American Women and Politics, isn’t just about individuals. Mustafa said the findings could ultimately be a tool to help ensure our democracy remains intact and truly fair.
“After the Jan. 6 riots and the outburst of anti-Asian hate crimes, I realized that our lessons need to be gleaned and used to better protect and advise future leaders,” she said.
For our diverse Asian American community, whose population has soared over the past two decades but has been largely ignored, we need all the answers we can get.
Rummana Hussain is a columnist and a member of the Sun-Times editorial board.
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