What's up, internet! You know what time it is. It is time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Eric Salcedo.
Who are you?
My full name is Manfred Eric Salcedo. I was named after the WWI flying ace, the Red Baron, Manfred von Richtofen. My neighbor's beagle is always trying to shoot me down. That said, I go by Eric. I'm a proud husband and father of two adorable "Korpinos" (Korean/Filipino mix).
What are you?
I'm an Aquarius/Tiger. Second Generation Filipino American.
Where are you?
I am in that phase of adulthood that is post-young adult and before middle age: the early-forties.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in New Jersey. Lived in Illinois from 1993 to 2014. Moved back to Jersey to be closer to family.
What do you do?
I've been the National Field Director for APIAVote since 2014. I work with our local partners in 26 states to civically engage Asian American and Pacific Islanders by registering them and getting them out to vote. This November, not only will we see the highest turnout of AAPI voters on Election Day, we are poised to be a critical voting block. AAPIs are already more than 5% of the electorate in nine states, including Nevada and Virginia.
What are you all about?
Given our latent electoral potential, I cannot help but feel we should be getting more attention from the candidates, their parties, and the mainstream media. Instead of celebrating when our community is approached by them, shouldn't we ask them what took them so long and what are their plans to engage us? We have to put them on notice that you don't get points just for showing up.
So how can we send this message? How can we hold candidates and their parties accountable to our communities? In the short term, it's easy: vote. Make your plan to vote: Do you know where your polling location is? What time you are going there and how? Did you look up what will be on your ballot? Don't forget to tell your family and friends that you are voting. This simple brag is proven to increase turnout. If you run into problems on Election Day, call 1-888-API-VOTE. Bilingual assistance is available in eight languages.
What makes you angry?
There are two times when I've had to become an Angry Asian Man.
The first instance was in 1995 as a sophomore at Northwestern University. Despite efforts to lobby the administration to establish an Asian American Studies Program, the university's slow response and delaying tactics prompted us to act. A coalition of students - Asian American, African American, Latino, LGBTQ, and Caucasian - went on a hunger strike to pressure the administration to commit to an Asian American Studies Program.
During the strike, I did not eat for eight days. After 23 days, we ended the strike, defeated and without an Asian American Studies program. But we also inspired future students to continue the struggle. In 1999, the Asian American Studies Program was established and two faculty were hired. We finally won.
The second time I got angry was in 2004, when the city of Chicago, facing a federal lawsuit to dismantle their affirmative-action program for minority and women-owned construction businesses, excluded Asian American contractors. Asian Americans were perceived as a model minority group that faced little discrimination and, more importantly, lacked a representative on city council. Thus, Chicago aldermen deemed them a "safe" sacrificial lamb. Infuriated, my fellow Asian American activists and I sought out to elect the first Asian American to city council, which at the time was unfathomable.
We attended political campaign schools and secretly built a neighborhood political organization. In 2007, we unveiled our candidate and political machine, and were met with derision from both our opponent and those we had hoped would be our allies. Despite this lack of respect, we pushed our opponent, a 30-year incumbent and member of the Chicago Machine, to the brink of defeat by forcing a run-off election. Illinois' political establishment now had to pay attention to Asian American voters and their candidates. This year, Illinois can possibly have Asian American elected officials on the city (Chicago), county (Cook), state, and federal levels.
What have I learned about being angry? It is good to get angry. You can do good things when we stay angry. While you may not see the immediate results, you are laying the groundwork for future Angry Asian People. When enough of us get angry, we win.