Mazie Hirono is sworn into the US Senate

Also  Mazie and Tulsi are breaking congressional barriers by becoming the first Buddhist and Hindu, respectively, to serve in Congress

Tulsi Gabbard further discusses being the first to use the Bhagavad Gita when sworn into the House of Representatives

And Ami Bera becomes the third Indian American member of the US Congress

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Asian American women in Congress: Part 2

Before being the youngest person ever elected to Hawaii State Legislature, Tulsi Gabbard worked with at-risk youth, joined the Hawaii National Guard and was actually deployed twice to the Middle East. She has a degree in international business. During her time in the Hawaii State Legislature, she has served on the Education, Higher Education and Tourism and Economic Development Committees.  Like Grace Meng, Tulsi wants to create jobs in helping Hawaii Businesses as well as reform banking, and bring our troops home when she begins here term in January.  And now the woman whom Tulsi replaced in the House of Representatives…

And there is finally Mazie Hirono, the first Asian American Senator from Hawaii (if I haven’t mentioned that already!). After reading a biography of this woman, she is truly living the American dream. Originally from Japan, Mazie immigrated to the United States with her mother and older brother just when Mazie was eight years old and not know a word of English. She got her first job in elementary school working as a cashier during the lunch hour as well as taking a paper route. She had to put herself through college at the University of Hawaii and Georgetown University law school. Like her fellow Hawaiian, Tulsi, Mazie spent time working with at-risk youth and noticing the difference that affected them and aimed for a career in the public service. In 1980, she first joined Hawaii state legislature and focused on reforming homeowners’ and workers’ insurance. Fourteen years later, she was elected Lieutenant Governor where she pushed for visa waivers for South Korean visitors and revamped Hawaii’s workers’ compensation laws, saving businesses approximately $85 million! And this totally made me love her more! She is a champion of expanding pre-kindergarten learning programs for kids in Hawaii where she worked with parents, teachers, business leaders and local communities! Going into the Senate, she will continue her efforts on expanding early childhood education as well as focus on creating jobs through renewable energy innovation and environmental sustainability.

What this all means to me as an Asian American woman and others like me, it makes me happy and excited to see people/representatives in the US Congress that look like me. Our voices are going to be heard and we have a say in government affairs and public policies. Our growing demographics are starting to be represented strongly in government. Girls and women like me and future generations can aim for more career options than just science/technology/engineering or doctors or business.  Moreover, we can aspire and not be afraid of taking leadership in any organization to make ourselves stand out and be heard. I am confident that more and more Asian American women and women of color, in general, will run for public office…cause women get stuff done!

Asian American women in Congress: Part 1

Having the first Asian American woman, Mazie Hirano elected to the U.S. senate along with four other Asian American women (Grace Meng, Tammy Duckworth, Tulsi Gabbard and Judy Chu) to the U.S. House of Representatives definitely contains historic significance.  According to the Examiner, this is the largest Asian Pacific American delegation to Congress. This delegation definitely changes the way society may view Asian American women. As I mentioned in a previous blog, Asian American women are often perceived as the quiet hard worker who does what she is told to do and works mostly in the background and does not speak up or take leadership. According to the 2010 report on Federal Higher Education Policy Priorities and the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community produced by the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education, AAPIs only made up 6.2% of all employees in federal agencies and only 2.3% of senior executives. Moreover, AAPIs only comprised 5.8% of permanent occupations at the Department of Defense and AAPIs hold only 1.5% of all Board seats of Fortune 500 companies.

                While this delegation is small compared to the still white majority delegation, this delegation plays a significant part changing the overall picture of Congress. Mazie Hirano’s election adds to the historic representation of 19 women in the Senate. Duckworth, Meng, Chu and Gabbard are part of a historic Democratic delegation to the House where women and minorities will take up a majority of house seats. And these women are not going to Washington to just be silent team players. They are going to be major social changers and leaders in terms of policies lending their voices on major issues and do some serious business in Congress.   Moreover, these women have some badass backgrounds and amazing achievements to their names.

 Coming from the New York state assembly, Grace Meng , representing Queens, is a daughter immigrant parents from Taiwan. Being the only Asian American in the NY state assembly, she had to reach across the aisle to get things done. Going to Congress, she plans to improve transportation and create jobs for Queens. 

Judy Chu has served in Congress since 2009 representing California’s 32nd district. During her time, she has introduced bills promoting equal access to quality education, eliminating water pollution, immigrant and labor rights, and helping small businesses succeed. Moreover, Judy is a strong advocate for LGBT issues and has participated in the NoH8 campaign. She voted to end “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in 2010. She strongly opposed Paul Ryan’s budget plan to end Medicare and voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act, believing in strengthening Medicare.

Tammy Duckworth was previously a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, one of the first women to fly combat missions in Iraq. Her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade causing Tammy to lose both her legs and part of the use of her right arm. She was awarded the purple heart for her injuries. However, her injuries did not slow Tammy down. She became director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and implemented programs addressing post-traumatic stress disorders and improving traumatic brain injury screenings. In 2009,President Obama appointed her as Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs where she focused on ending homelessness for Veterans and lead initiatives for female Vets. As an elected congresswoman for Illinois’s 8th Congressional district, Duckworth plans to focus on rebuilding American manufacturing, comprehensive immigration reform, and withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

End of Part 1. Part 2 will later be posted about Mazie Hirano and the representative that replaced her in the House, Tulsi Gabbard! And what does this all mean!

Making history!

Mixing the Paint

NEW YORK, New York — Grace Meng became the first Asian-American from New York to be elected to Congress on Tuesday, beating out Republican Councilman Dan Halloran.

The Democrat from Queens downplayed being an Asian-American and focused her acceptance speech as a woman in government.

“Tonight is historic in that we’ve taken one small step in getting more women elected to government,” Meng said. “More women in government means practical attention on how families educate their children, how they pay their bills, how they worship, how they participate in their community and how they plan for the future.”

Austin Finan, a spokesman for Meng said “As proud as Grace is to be a Chinese-American woman, she’s equally as proud to be a woman, a mother, and that speaks to the people in the district who are not Asian-American.”

When it comes to making history, the apple didn’t fall far from…

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