Helping give a voice to Asian-Americans is the concept of Asian-Americans for Political Advancement, run by Taylor Chow.
The group, based out of the East Bay with a mailing address in Burlingame, is a political action committee and lobbying coalition formed to create a political voice for Asian-Americans regarding political issues and candidates. Its president, Chow, 50, decided to start the group in 2011 after opposing a ban on the possession or sale of shark fins in California.
“It’s an unconstitutional discrimination bill,” said Chow, originally from Hong Kong. “This is one reason we organized the group.”
The group’s cause came front and center during the introduction of Senate Constitutional Amendment 5. This initiative would ask voters to consider eliminating California Proposition 209’s ban on the use race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in recruitment, admissions and retention programs at California’s public universities and colleges.
“We opposed it because we believe affirmative action has done its job,” he said. “There’s no necessity to have a quota system. We will keep educating the community. ... Although Asian-Americans only occupy about 14 percent of the total population in California, Asian students are 35 percent of the UC (University of California) system.”
Chow believes state Sen. Edward Hernandez, D-West Covina, introduced the bill because he wanted to use the quota to reduce Asian students in the university system even though the amendment’s language specified it was aimed at aiding Latino students.
Chow, a father of two teenagers, moved to the United States in 1984 to study physics at Cal State Stanislaus. After graduation, he began working in Oakland and then helped organize the Oriental Food Association to organize importers to work with the Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture.
Chow notes that traditionally Chinese-Americans have not been interested in politics, but he wants to change that. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act isolated Chinese immigrants from other immigrants and it wasn’t repealed until 1946. Large-scale Chinese immigration didn’t occur until the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
“For 130 years, the Chinese have been excluded from having a political voice,” he said. “There’s been no political voice for Chinese people and that’s why there’s only two Chinese congressmen. Unfortunately, our voice is still so small compared to other ethnic groups.”
The group is helping though, Chow said.
“Today we are the watchdog for any policy and law,” he said. “If there’s anything that discriminates against Asian-Americans, we want to educate the people to protect their rights. We believe everyone should be equal.”
Uniting people is something Chow really enjoys about his organization, he said.
“We’re learning how to see if there’s discrimination against Asian-Americans,” he said. “Right now they (Asian-Americans) know better how to protect their rights through the organization. We see the people running for office; this is good progress. People are starting to come to us and get their voices heard.”
The group also works to raise funds for causes it lobbies.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105