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A Cup of Joe: Missed opportunity

 

To my Asian-American brothers and sisters:

 

Where you at?

 

This past weekend, U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-Ca. came to Denver to speak with the community. It was an opportunity for us to discuss issues that concern us with someone on the national level.

 

Unfortunately, the turnout was less than overwhelming.

 

Let me put it this way – there was only one person less than the age of 30 at the emerging leaders meeting on Friday: Me.

 

And at the town meeting on Saturday, there were four of us – two of which were from AsiaXpress.com.

 

As great as it was to have a solo meeting with Honda and many of our community's experienced leaders, including former Colorado State Senate President Stan Matsunaka, it was disheartening being the lone voice for Asian Americans of my generation.

 

And as a journalist I'm supposed to observe and record the news, not be the one who's making it.

 

It's a stereotype that Asian Americans prefer to stay quiet and avoid rocking the boat when it comes to politics. It's another one that many in Generation Y (those born between 1977 and 1994) are apathetic to governmental affairs. Friday did nothing except perpetuate those claims.

 

The Asian-American voice is small on the national scale. Of the 100 U.S. senators, two are of Asian descent. Of the 535 voting members in congress, there are only six Asian Americans. That's 2 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively – far lower than the 4 percent of us who make up the U.S. population. It doesn't help that only 30.7 percent of Asian Americans who are eligible to vote actually did in the 2004 election.

 

If we want to have a voice, we have to become involved. Whether it's running for public office, volunteering for someone's campaign or just getting out there and voting, we have to make our presence known. If we don't, we'll forever remain known as the “silent minority.”

 

Congressman Honda's visit to Denver was a missed opportunity for the community. We can't let that happen again.

 

Joe Nguyen is the editor in chief of AsiaXpress.com. Joe can be reached at joe@asiaxpress.com.

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