'Binded by blood,' split over election: Asian American family embodies generational shift in politics
Four years ago, Louie Tan Vital received an invitation from her 81-year-old grandmother, an immigrant, to attend a prayer rally in the hope of being the next President of the United States, Donald Trump.
In order to be respectful, Vital participated but did not actively participate. “I felt incredibly uncomfortable. And I remember talking to my grandmother later, "Vital told NBC News about Zoom from her Washington, D.C. home.
25-year-old Vital identifies herself as a Democrat and considers herself a progressive activist, while her grandmother Estrella Pada Taong identifies herself as conservative and Republican. She remembered asking her grandma about her views on Trump and when she found out that her grandma was religious and "a good Christian". Vital said she decided not to answer any further so as not to get too upset.
"My opinion is that he is not a religious man, nor would I say that he traditionally teaches Christian values, respects women and family and all that," said Vital.
Like many immigrant groups, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders experience a generation gap between voters. Vital, who was born in the United States, and her grandmother Taong, who was born in the Philippines, reflect these differences - some of which can be explained by their age and place of birth.
Sixty-six percent of Asian Americans ages 18 to 34 would vote for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, compared with 20 percent of those over 50, according to the latest Asian-American voter poll.
"What we find is that where Asian Americans live, it is not so important which party they identify with or who they will vote for, but how age and birth are," said Karthick Ramakrishnan, director of the Asian American Voter Survey and founder of AAPI Data.
Ramakrishnan said younger voters identify more with the Democratic Party and are progressive on issues such as health care, the citizenship process, protecting the environment, gun control, abortion and their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and an increased awareness of matters are like racial discrimination, while older voters tend not to be as progressive.
Ramakrishnan explains that while party affiliations and identity politics vary between different Asian American groups, when younger and older voters are compared, younger voters tend to be more progressive.
Organize for "the exact opposite beliefs"
As the 2020 US presidential election approaches, conversations about political beliefs and disagreements with family members could be difficult. Vital's cross-generational Filipino-American adopted family found that understanding each other's upbringing and life experiences is more important than focusing on differences of opinion.
"It's interesting that I'm here on this side of the country to organize the community. I fight in politics and fight for progressive politics. And on the other end of the country, my grandma is out here too, organizing for exactly." the opposite beliefs, ”said Vital.
Vital said that when she visits her family in Hawaii, the time is not about discussing politics, but "cooking together, just hanging out, watching movies, just everyday family things".
"I am not authentic in the present myself because I know my political views could come between us and I sometimes actively choose not to address that," she said.
Alex Ly, a registered marriage and family therapist in Fremont, California, says that a family member chooses to resolve a political disagreement and suggests how families could communicate their views.
"When this person feels understood, they are more open to a different perspective," said Ly.
Ly, who sees around 10 to 15 customers a week, including Asian Americans, suggests bringing "a level of curiosity" into the conversation, taking into account the intent and outcome, and not just the person's location but who Story behind it is understood.
Explain divisions in subgroups such as Indian Americans and Vietnamese Americans
AAPI data shows that Vietnamese Americans are the only Asian-American subgroup who identify as Republicans at 38 percent, compared to Democrats at 27 percent and 29 percent as independent. The explanation of why includes nuances such as the refugee trauma and its past colonial history. One of the main factors is how Vietnamese communities were affected after the Vietnam War, according to Nick Nguyen, director of research at VietFactCheck.org, a project by PIVOT, a progressive Vietnamese-American social justice nonprofit.
Many Vietnamese Americans formed political opinions after the Vietnam War, when the lives of the Vietnamese people were changed and once stable families became refugees, said Nguyen of Palto Alto, California. He said the belief arose that the Republican Party had an anti-communist agenda rather than a peacenic view that reflected the views of these communities at the time and has since been adopted. In addition, this political affiliation could also be explained by the fact that more Vietnamese people feel much more welcome from this party to the United States and for other reasons such as religiosity.
"We didn't go through the trauma they went through," said 44-year-old Nguyen, adding, "I am very empathetic to elders and why they feel the way they feel."
Nguyen, a second generation Vietnamese American, attributes the security and disenfranchisement of his victims to his family, who came to the United States as refugees and became naturalized citizens.
“Because we didn't grow up under all of the stress that can really affect your view of the world and life, we have the luxury of really looking outward at issues that we believe lead to bigger problems and that we want to solve it, ”he said.
Nguyen said he grew up a Republican due to his family's influence and history, but was later identified as a Democrat at the age of 25 as he developed his own political views from his personal and professional experiences.
Another reason could be Trump's harsh speech about China, a communist country that once ruled Vietnam. For older Vietnamese Americans, this appears to be a beneficial factor in supporting the incumbent as it harks back to former President Ronald Reagan's anti-communist approach, according to Dr. Anh-Thu Bui, who leads PIVOT's election strategy. a non-profit organization that works to increase the turnout of Vietnamese Americans.
Within the Asian-American electoral bloc, naturalized immigrants are the largest sources of growth for eligible voters. Of the group, Indian Americans are among the fastest growing, and have doubled in the recent past.
About 89 percent of Indian Americans who identify as Democratic plan to vote for Biden, compared to 80 percent of those who identify as Republicans and plan to vote for Trump, according to the Carnegie Endowment For Peace, citing the Indian - American setting from 2020. Those born in the United States are more likely to identify as Democrats, which is 64 percent, compared to naturalized US citizens, which is 48 percent, according to the same report.
"I am very connected to India through my family, but I need to focus on what the US government is doing about the economy," said Khyati Joshi, professor of education at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. "Most second-generation Indians like me, however, are concerned with health care, economic and social justice issues."
Some experts state that one factor contributing to this split could be Trump's alliance with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, given the large portion of the Indian-born US community. While a total of 14 percent of the US population were born abroad, 71 percent of Indian Americans were born.
In 2019, Modi and Trump held a rally to appeal to Indian-American supporters in Houston. The "Howdy Modi" event drew 50,000 people and the two leaders performed together on stage. In February they held a joint rally in India, where they praised each other in front of over 110,000 people.
Other issues, such as Trump's order to curb H-1B visas, which were temporarily banned by a district judge through the end of the year, have affected Indians in the US, who have received half of all widespread H-1B visas to specialized technicians since 2001.
Other experts explain differences within the community from the perspective. Pawan Dhingra, a sociologist and professor of American studies at Amherst College in Massachusetts, said immigrants tend to think that "we have to pay our dues and therefore accept certain types of inequalities." However, their children are less compliant. "The second generation believes that as US citizens we grew up here and deserve equal rights."
Understand each other
Taong, who works as a mortgage loan officer in Honolulu, said she became politically active with other Filipino Americans when Trump ran for president in the previous election. She realizes that her political views are different from those of her granddaughter and understands why.
“I just have to understand, I have to understand her current situation, her current place, the culture that she is now. I need to understand her I need to understand her colleagues, the school she goes to, the education she gets from the school, ”Taong said of Zoom from Honolulu.
Unlike her granddaughter, Taong said she grew up with strict parents in the Philippines that she couldn't disagree with.
“We can't do anything about what our parents would say. If I were there, as Louie did, my parents would surely say, as I said, that they are not joining the activist group. As a kid, I have to follow, ”said Taong.
Her granddaughter said she took part in the marching for the Black Lives Matter movement and had spoken out in favor of a progressive activist since her elementary and college education at the University of Washington.
Third Andresen, a part-time professor at the University of Washington who teaches courses on ethnic studies and critical racial theory, recalled teaching Vital as a student on his study abroad course in the Philippines and said she excelled in her studies.
Andresen also recalled that as a student, Vital had sought his advice on how to deal with disagreements with the family.
“Be ready to feel uncomfortable. If you are not ready, you may want to keep practicing until you are ready, ”Andresen told his students.
Taong remembers her granddaughter's passion for being an activist as a student and not accepting her at the time, but found a way to understand and respect her.
"I respect her opinion because I believe she is a little mature enough to consider what's good for her. And the only thing I can help her is pray for her, pray for her safety and to pray that her plans will be well received in the world, ”she said.
Taong shared that her leadership was based on having lived in the Philippines and seeing a different view of activism that sometimes hurts and made people unsafe and feared for Vital.
Despite the differences, Taong, like her granddaughter, pursued higher education. She said she did a PhD in administration and oversight in the Philippines. She said there are a few different factors that shape viewpoints.
"It's through culture, family background and education and educational background and the influence of the environment," she explained. "We have exceeded what we got from our parents, we are passing it on to our next generation, the next siblings."
It's a feeling that has been vindicated by her daughter Lucky Tan Tasato, 49, who said she raised Vital to be free to "choose and choose".
“I have my own beliefs. I am basically driven by my own values and morals. And when it comes to Louie, I encourage her to stand up for what she thinks is right, ”said Tasato of Zoom from Honolulu.
Vital's mother remembered her daughter wearing a mask that said, "We'll decide" the day she voted. "And I told her you are right, you are part of us," she said.
“We can be left, right and in the middle. But in the end we're still tied to blood, ”said Tasato. "So we still have to respect each other and respect the fact that we are free to speak out loudly, or perhaps not even loudly, about our political affiliations."
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