HOUSTON, TX — According to the latest census numbers, the number of Asian-Americans in Texas has increased by 42 percent since 2010– and now is the fastest growing ethnic group in the state.
But Asians have been historically overlooked in Texas politics.
Democratic state representative Gene Wu of Houston–one of the few Asian Americans in the Texas Legislature–says Asians in Texas have a tendency not to vote so political candidates don’t pay much attention to their communities. In particular, the Filipino community.
“Filipinos have a very proud history, not only in this country but especially in Houston. We have a large Filipino community here, but they are very separated and there is not a lot of concentration of power.”
Many experts feel that Asian engagement in Texas politics is a key tipping point for upcoming elections.
Last November, 8 of the 13 Asian American candidates won their 2018 elections in Houston.
Debbie Chen leads a local Houston community organization, wants to build on those victories and increase Asian involvement in political issues. But Chen says Asians are often nervous about participating in civic affairs and are often reluctant to talk about politics.
“Some people may have certain residual fear of like not wanting to raise attention or rather draw attention to them from the government because they didn’t have that kind of Liberty from where they were.”
Nelvin Adriatico is aiming to be the third Asian and the first Filipino American to ever serve on the Houston City Council. He says it’s time Filipinos become more “civically engaged,” and that it’s up to the politicians to invest time into learning how to best communicate with these various groups.
“Filipinos are one of the largest minorities here in Houston, and in Texas. So in order for us to have a voice, to get our voices out there. Our culture, our heritage, we need to have a voice at the city.”
Although Asian Americans are only 5 percent of the population in the U.S., Asian Americans have links to more than 60 percent of the population of the world — enough power to influence not just national politics, but globally as well.
Wishing Adriatico the best of luck in his campaign for Houston City Council this fall.