Less than 1% of US elected leaders are Asian American, despite making up more than 6% of the US population

  • Less than % of elected leadership in the US are members of the AAPI community.
  • But AAPI individuals make up more than 6% of the population.
  • The statistic was included in a report by the Reflective Democracy Campaign, which investigates diversity in elected leadership.
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Asian American lawmakers make up less than 1% of elected leaders in the US, despite the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders accounting for more than 6% of the nation’s population as of mid-2020.

The statistic was included in a report by the Reflective Democracy Campaign, which investigates diversity and demographic representation in elected leadership. The report was included in an article by Politico on Tuesday.

There are two US senators who are part of the AAPI community — Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. At least 16 US representatives are AAPI individuals.

On a state level, there are more than 150 state legislators in 31 states across the US. One-third of whom are representing majority-white districts, but only 17% representing majority AAPI districts, according to the report.

“The exclusion of Asian Americans from political power mirrors the history of AAPI exclusion and erasure from American society,” Brenda Choresi Carter, the director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign, said in the report. “But AAPI communities are winning visibility and power, and AAPI leaders are winning elections and reshaping politics, from city halls to Congress and the Vice President’s office.”

Strides in AAPI representation in the political sphere were made when Vice President Kamala Harris made history as the nation’s first female vice president, as well as the first vice president who is Black and of Asian descent.

When taking all levels of government into account, the only state whose AAPI elected officials proportionately represent its AAPI population is Hawaii. Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke said in the report that states with significant AAPI populations — save for Hawaii — AAPI people are underrepresented in elected office.

“As a result, governments are unable to adequately serve vulnerable AAPI communities with cultural competency and with language access,” Mielke continued.

When measuring state legislatures alone, AAPI elected officials begin to mirror that of their AAPI constituents, according to the report. The percentage of state legislators in Hawaii, California, Maryland, and who are AAPI are “relatively close or equal” to their AAPI population, the report read.

However, New Jersey has the fourth largest AAPI population in the US but has two AAPI state legislators, and Nevada has the fifth largest AAPI population and has only one AAPI state lawmaker, according to the report.

“Voters, regardless of party identification, really want to see reflective leadership,” Carter told Politico. “Political power has been concentrated in the hands of white men in the United States since the very beginning. And I think we are seeing the limitations of that.”

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