Barack Obama, The First Asian American President?

Yesterday in Washington, at a fundraiser sponsored by a coalition of Asian American political groups, Senator Barack Obama pronounced himself an "honorary AAPI."

Obama, at Fundraiser, Pronounces Himself an 'Honorary AAPI'.

Okay, I don't know if I'd go that far (is there a place to apply for such status?) but I think you can make a case that he has some cred in this area. As Rep. Mike Honda noted when he introduced the Senator at the event, Obama's family includes Asian Americans and he spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. "The son of an immigrant, raised among AAPI's in Hawaii, Barack Obama understands the struggles of immigrants searching for an identity in America," he said.

Obama's 20-minute speech dwelled heavily on immigration and Asian-American issues, as well as his own background. Born in Hawaii, raised for a time in Indonesia, Obama said his first college roommates were Pakistani and Indian. "Most importantly," he said, "I have a sister who is half Indonesian, who is married to a Chinese Canadian. I don't know what that makes my niece."

Indeed, just as Toni Morrison referred to Bill Clinton as "our first black president" in The New Yorker in 1998, in his latest "Asian Pop" column for SFGate, Jeff Yang makes a similar case for our possible first real black president, only this time asking "Could Obama be the first Asian American president?"

I've never been a big fan of the 'all-my-friends-are-Asian-thus-I-am-Asian-too' line of reasoning, but I am definitely encouraged at the prospect of a President who has some semblance of understanding of my perspective, and where I'm coming from as an Asian American.

It certainly beats the hell out of a candidate that would openly refer to someone as "the gooks."

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