When Lance Chen, PHD states “…Asians are told two lies when coming to America. The Democratic Party is good for immigrants and minorities.” I was like Wow…not sure if I’m ready for this truth. Are you?
Toward the end of Washington, DC-based filmmaker Yi Chen’s non-partisan documentary “FIRST VOTE”, one of the film’s subjects posits, “The central question that I think all Asian Americans feel is, ‘Do we belong?’” Having said that, in 1952, federal law barred immigrants of Asian descent from becoming U.S. citizens and voting, it is a searing and inescapable reality faced by Asian Americans. They weren’t allowed to vote until 1965 when the Voting Rights Act passed prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. Yet many didn’t cast their first vote until 2016 – if at all.
Taking her camera on the road during the 2018 midterm elections, Chen introduces us to a cross section of politically engaged Chinese Americans: an avid Trump supporter in Ohio; a Democratic podcaster whose views have alienated his wife’s conservative friends; a gun-toting, Tea Party-favorite in North Carolina; and a progressive University of North Carolina professor. Speaking with distinct political voices, they share the common goal of seeing Asian Americans take their rightful place in the American political landscape.
What I mostly learned is the pervasive ignorance and misinformation surrounding Asian culture from those of us that are ‘other’ is embarrassing. Asians for decades were considered “partly colored” in some sectors. In some sectors of the Deep South they’re viewed as honorary ‘white people.’ Many of us don’t know the difference between Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Island Pacific, Filipino. Just like many of us don’t know the difference between Nigerian, South African, Jamaican, Trinidadian or Latin, Columbian, Puerto Rican. It’s this ignorance that leads to the very racists ideology spreading throughout America to this very day. For it is only when we break down our prejudices from an educational vantage point will we eradicate racists clinging to guns and religion to divide and conquer what is supposed to be the land of the free. First Vote will make you realize that we – all of us have so much more work left to do in bringing our world together as part of one race. The human race.