By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – The goal is rather lofty: A U.S. president of Asian descent in our lifetime.
“Why not?” said Rozita Lee, a leader of the Asian American Pacific Islander community in Las Vegas. “It’s interesting. But i see it in the future. We’re all mixed now.”
“It’s very realistic,” said Lee, who added that the election of Barack Obama as the country’s first black president opened the door for other minority communities to aspire for the position.
The numbers tell the story of the growing political clout of the Asian-American community, often referred to in the past as the “Invisible Minority” because of their non-involvement in political affairs.
The Asian population in the United States increased by 43 percent between 2000 and 2010, more than any major race group, Census statistics say.
From 10.2 million in 2000, the community rose to 14.7 million in 10 years, and now comprise 5 percent of the total U.S. population of about 314 million.
That is the Asian alone population, not including those of mixed races, or Asians in combination with other races, which add another nearly 1 percent.
In most swing states, including Nevada, Asian-Americans could influence the result of national and local elections, Lee said.
“If they don’t pay attention to us, they would lose the election,” she said.
Since 1990, Nevada has experienced one of the most rapid population surges of any state. Between 2000 and 2010 the Asian Pacific American population has expanded by 116 percent, making up approximately 8 percent of the population–that is over 3 percent greater than the national figure.
Filipino- Americans are the largest Asian group in both the state and the city of Las Vegas.
In Nevada, there are about 200,000, and in Las Vegas, nearly 30,000, composed mostly of casino workers and health care professionals, including nurses and doctors.
The long-term goal of one day capturing the White House would be one of the topics of panel discussions at the OCA Asian Pacific American convention next month at the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
“At some point in our lifetime, it would be a reality,” Hayashi said of the possibility of a U.S. president of Asian descent, as the community gets more engaged in this country’s political process.
“I would like to seem more involvement, and to amplify our voices in the ballot box,” he said.
Asian refers to people from the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.