Caucuses serve an important function within the organizational structure of the Young Democrats of Massachusetts (YDMA). By providing a platform for underrepresented groups, caucuses help YDMA pay attention to politicians, issues, and actions that might otherwise be missed. Furthermore, caucuses should provide the kind of welcoming social space that makes the Democratic Party the inclusive party that it strives to be. The goal of YDMA’s newest caucus, the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Caucus, is to be a supportive and voice-amplifying social space for those who share a passion for politics, advocacy, and liberal values.
This Caucus is about improving the quality of representation within the Democratic Party; we want to empower individuals who care about politics – especially among a demographic group that has historically been discouraged from participating and preferred to not participate in the political process. Despite being the fastest-growing demographic group, AAPI individuals still are underrepresented at all levels of politics. To take just one vivid example: at the state level, there are only 14 AAPI individuals out of five, six hundred staffers.
The focus on representation and membership, not issues, is deliberate because all political issues affect AAPI communities in Massachusetts. Yes, there are AAPI-specific issues, issues that disproportionately affect AAPI communities, and so it only makes sense that AAPI individuals and groups will mobilize around these issues. Such issues include data disaggregation and ensuring that literature advertising government services are written in the language understood by the targeted citizens (e.g., Mandarin literature will not help a Cambodian family understand what government resources are available to them).
But other political issues affect AAPI communities, too. One concrete example is housing affordability. The gentrification of Chinatown and the resulting exodus of AAPI individuals from downtown Boston is simultaneously an AAPI issue as well as an issue that AAPI individuals and groups can build common cause with, working with Democrats and politicians across identity and party labels.
Education, health care, immigrant rights… AAPI activists are uniquely positioned to know how each of these various issues specifically affects them because they are embedded in the community and the culture, and that knowledge and lived experience is invaluable to craft better policies. It should be treasured and integrated into the political process. Success for AAPI communities is interconnected with the success of all of Massachusetts and vice versa.
Attuned to the nuances of these dynamics, the point of the AAPI Caucus is to create room, a social space, for passionate and politically inspired AAPI individuals to support each other while building connections to the wider YDMA community.
Excited to learn more and get involved? Follow us on Facebook! We will be advertising our social kickoff event in a couple weeks.
And fill out this short survey so that we can get a sense of what members are interested in, and what kinds of activities can best support you.