Obama: The First Asian American President?

imageLike many other Asian American Barack Obama supporters, I too was upset to learn that Asian Americans overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton on Super Tuesday. I know a lot of that has to do with name recognition (or if CNN is to be believed, Asians’ innate racism towards blacks), but if more Asian American voters were aware of Obama’s Asian roots, maybe they’d be able to better identify with the junior senator from Illinois.

First of all, if Obama wins the nomination (and hopefully, the presidency), than America will have not only its first African American nominee, the White House will have its first resident with Asian family members visiting for the holidays. Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is hapa (Indonesian/White) and identifies as an Asian American. Her husband (Obama’s brother-in-law) Konrad Ng is Chinese Canadian. Moreover, his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, was an Indonesian student studying at the University of Hawaii.

Not only that, but Obama knows what it’s like to grow up the son of an immigrant. His story is not that different from the typical Asian American coming of age story (being branded “the other,” explaining your exotic name to adults who should know better, etc.) These experiences, along with the fact that Obama grew up in Hawaii and Jakarta, give our next president a perspective that many Asian Americans can identify with. He may not have Asian blood, but if Bill Clinton can be the country’s first black president, then why can’t Barack Obama be our first Asian American one?

Be sure to check out the official AAPI for Obama website.


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