More than 1.4 million Asian Americans live in Texas. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up about 6% of the total electorate in the state. That’s more than 790,000 voters. The number of Asian Americans in Texas has nearly doubled since 2010, which means this group will have a great impact on elections now and in the future.
In Austin, Asian Americans account for 8% of the city’s population. That’s a significant chunk of the 850,000 eligible voters in Travis County. Yet, in Texas a large proportion of Asian American voters failed to receive outreach from either major political party. According to data collected by the Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote organization, only 52% of these voters reported contact by the Democratic Party, and an even fewer 40% reported contact by the Republican Party.
There is vast diversity within this group in terms of ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, language proficiency and education. While the Indian, Chinese and Tawainese ethnic groups make up a large percentage of this population in Austin, this community also includes Korean, Filipino, Japanese and many other groups. And in recent years, refugees from Nepal, Burma, Cambodia and Laos have contributed to the growing diversity within this community.
What do these voters have to say about the upcoming election? That’s what the Decibel team set out to capture in the video above.
Over the course of a month, we recorded interviews for this video. Due to the pandemic, we decided to keep these sessions virtual.
We started collecting interviews for the piece by sending out an email message to all of the guests of our September community conversation asking if they would like to be a part of this video. By midway through the month, we noticed we were not capturing enough diverse voices and put out another email call out to gather more voices. In the end, we captured 16 voices in this video. Of those 16, five identified as Indian American, four identified as Chinese American, three identified as Vietnamese American, and other voices identified as Pakistani American, Indian and Pakistani American, South Asian American and Asian American.
What we did wrong
We failed at capturing the rich diversity that exists within this community. Our approach of emailing members of this community and waiting for people to come to us was not aggressive enough. By only including people who responded to our emails, we missed the opportunity to capture voices that often get overlooked within this community.
What we learned
The Asian American community does not consider itself to be a monolith, either culturally or in terms of political affiliation. Most of the people we spoke to both in these interviews and during community events stressed the broad diversity of cultures that are placed under the term Asian American.
This underscores that we have to do a better job of outreach in the future. We can’t just sit back and wait for people to come to us. If we want to achieve our mission of true representation, we can’t default to listening to only the people in a community who have easy access to us. Covid-19 has made outreach more challenging, but that is not an excuse for not doing a better job of making sure more ethinic groups from this community were represented in this video.
In the future, we will make sure our outreach is more targeted and will continue to meet with community members to discuss the best ways to listen to the communities we are covering. If you have suggestions for how we can improve our outreach methods, please email us at email@example.com.
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