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An Awakening Community

Repelled by progressive policies, Asian-American New Yorkers look to the other side of the aisle.

Rong Xiaoqing January 26, 2022 New York, Politics and law, The Social Order

Three in four Asian New Yorkers are immigrants. They have long been considered reliable Democratic voters, but lately, many seem more animated by opposition to Democratic policies. The extent of the shift became clear in the New York City elections last year, when Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa, as well as some candidates for city council, scored well in Asian-heavy districts. While Democrats try to figure out what this means, Republicans hope to capitalize this year—and beyond.

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Asian voices have only grown louder since then. They fought against former mayor Bill de Blasio’s specialized high school reform proposal that, they worry, would reduce the chance of admission for Asian students; the borough-based jail project that would bring an expanded jail to Manhattan’s Chinatown; the state’s marijuana legalization; and bail reform and the defund-the-police movement, which cut against their public safety concerns.


With each protest movement came the emergence of community activists new to politics. Phil Wong is one. An immigrant from Hong Kong and a father of three, Wong participated in protests for the first time in 2018 against specialized high school reform. Now he’s a civic leader mobilizing Chinese parents to fight affirmative action and critical race theory. “The atmosphere at schools here is more and more like China’s cultural revolution that encourages students to cancel teachers and parents, all in the name of equality,” Wong says.


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