Guest Blogger – Howie
What a weekend! Just 24 hours ago, I was outside the Harbor Palace Restaurant in Las Vegas Chinatown waving a “Vote for Obama” sign alongside Kelly Hu. Now I’m back at work, responding to emails. . .
Over 84 people came to Las Vegas last weekend as part of the Asian-American/Pacific Islander effort to get Barack Obama elected. Jay Chen, Governing Board Member of Hacienda-La Puente School District organized the trip which drew people from Los Angeles, San Diego, and the Bay Area. With an AAPI population of 13% (twice the Nevada average), Las Vegas was the perfect place for our community to represent. And of the remaining swing states, Nevada is second only to Virginia in terms of population of Asian-Americans. But enough numbers. A quick recap of what went down:
Wait, is that Kelly Hu? It is! What a nice way to start a day of canvassing. Kelly met our group outside the hotel lobby as we prepared to walk the Las Vegas neighborhoods in 90 degree heat. Having her there at eight o’clock in the morning definitely took the edge off an otherwise grumpy canvasser from the Bay Area. We then met up with other volunteers from Nevada for Obama, which resulted in a crowd that had so many AAPIs that we could have been mistaken for a Lowell High School reunion. We then spent the better part of the day canvassing local Las Vegas neighborhoods, where in all we hit 3600 homes and spoke to 1500 people. People were excited about Obama, though there was one case where one of our volunteers was told in a not-so-friendly way to get off the lawn. Pink shirts apparently don’t play well with Republicans. Well, at least pink shirts on guys don’t.
After a short break to freshen up, we all got together for happy hour at Firefly Restaurant where we met many leaders of the AAPI community from California, Nevada, and the Obama campaign. Kelly also gave an incredible impromptu speech about her work with the AAPI community, including a story about how she got involved with will.i.am’s Voices for Change Obama video. For once, the guys were the ones who were swooning.
Sunday began with about 50 of us heading to the Las Vegas Chinatown to make signs for our sign-waving event. For those who haven’t been to the Las Vegas Chinatown, know that it’s legit — they have a Ranch 99. Using posterboards and thick magic markers, we made Obama signs in Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Tagalog and (of course) English. In all, there were over 50 people flanking both sides of Spring Mountain Road, getting people to honk their horns for Obama.
Afterwards, a few of us went the AAPI Roundtable at Makinos Restaurant where we saw Congressman Mike Honda, Yul Kwon (of Survivor), Kal Penn (of Harold and Kumar) and Kelly Hu (again!). Joe Jackson (Michael Jackson’s dad) was there too, though I didn’t catch the connection to the group. Regardless, it was fun to see what Michael Jackson should have looked like.
This was a great trip. In addition to helping the campaign of Barack Obama, it was great to meet so many people from our community that share a passion for change. There is going to be another trip to Las Vegas from October 31-November 1, the weekend before election day. I would encourage anyone with an interest in helping Obama and the AAPI community to go. My contact info is [email protected] for those who are interested.