When an unidentified man from a suburb of Adelaide, Australia ran a classified ad to sell his home, he wasn’t expecting a reporter and camera crew to show up on his doorstep. Unfortunately, it was the last line of the ad that “brought out the reporter’s crusading instincts.” The real estate listing reads: “HIGHGATE. Open for inspection. 68 Smith Street, Between 2-4. 3 brm b/t newly renov and painted, new carpet right through, walking distance from city, close to all schools and shops. No Asians thank you.” The exchange between the reporter and the man was caught on a video that has suddenly gone viral. The reporter grills the man about why he dislikes “Asians” so much and how discrimination is against the law. But it soon grows clear that the apparent bigot only wanted to hear from prospective home buyers, not AGENTS, and the person who had taken the man’s order had misheard him and written “Asians” instead.
The video ended with the camera crew bursting into laughter, and the two men shaking hands. Apparently, even Australians have trouble understanding Australians. The video was filmed back in the 1980’s and presumably wound up on the news station’s cutting room store until some wag dredged it up from the archives for reasons unknown.
Here’s the video:
This feel-good video makes us laugh and allows us to reassure ourselves that we’re not REALLY racist, ha ha ha. Unfortunately, racism and discrimination against Asians really does exist. Asian groups haven’t been as vocal about these issues as the African American and Latino communities, but this is starting to change.
We’ve heard a lot about the Republicans’ attempts to prevent blacks and Latinos from voting (for a list of AI articles on this topic, click here), but we’re just starting to learn about how these tactics have also affected Asian Americans. Mel Fabrikant reports in the Paramus Post that on February 1st, the Asian American Justice Center and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed an amicus brief for 28 Asian American groups with the U.S. Supreme Court for Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder. The amicus brief demands that the court uphold Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Margaret Fung, AALDEF’s executive director told reporters:
“AALDEF submitted comments to the Justice Department on three voting changes that were ultimately denied preclearance under Section 5. As Asian American political participation continues to grow, this key provision of the Voting Rights Act must be upheld to ensure the full and equal participation of all voters of color in the electoral process.”
Mee Moua, the AAJC’s president and executive director added:
“Asian Americans are often subject to the ‘perpetual foreigner’ stereotype and the evidence showing that Asian Americans and other minority voters in Section 5-covered jurisdictions continue to face voting discrimination is extensive and overwhelming. With the Asian American population growing significantly in Section 5 jurisdictions, Section 5 is greatly needed as a tool to prevent unconstitutional and discriminatory voting provisions.”
Section 5 is a key component of the Voting Rights Act, because it seeks to prevent voter discrimination before it happens, by requiring states and counties with histories of racial discrimination to provide fair and reasonable access. The AALDEF and AAJC amicus brief states the need for increased access for Asian Americans in the following areas:
- Language access: Growing Asian American neighborhoods need fully-translated ballots and assistance from interpreters at polling places.
- Political representation: Surprise! Asian Americans don’t like discriminatory redistricting plans either. Most recently, in 2012, Asian American groups helped deny pre-clearance for a proposed 2012 redistricting plan in the State of Texas.
The Paramus Post adds that the insanely-Anglo sounding law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP provided pro-bono legal council to the AAJC and ALLDEF for the amicus brief, and that the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder on February 27th.
|Elisabeth Parker is a writer, Web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante. Come visit her at ElisabethParker.Com, “like” her on facebook, or follow her on Twitter. For more articles by Elisabeth, click here.|