AAPI Politics: Meet Raja Krishnamoorthi

August 24, 2016
Politics

Asian American Pacific Islanders are represented now more than ever in Illinois politics. Our success in representation comes with tough challenges. How unified is our voice? Are we represented enough? What’s our future locally and nationally? Meet history making Asian American Pacific Islander Democrats from Illinois and learn their thoughts on these and other issues.

Raja Krishnamoorthi is the Democratic nominee for the U.S Congress for the Eighth District of Illinois.

What is the Asian American voice?
Asian Americans increasingly have a voice at the highest levels of government and that’s a good thing.

The more Congressional and higher levels of government reflect the diversity of America, the better. 

I look forward to representing all the people in the Eighth Congressional District of Illinois, a very vibrant dynamic place with a large concentration of Asian Americans. 

Do you see the Asian American voice as being unified?
Over time it will be. Right now, the Asian American community is very diverse. You have Chinese, Filipino, Indian, and other people who each have an unique identity, an unique story. There are certain (shared) values that Asian Americans bring to the table such as strongly prizing public school education and making sure we are compassionate towards the least of us in society.

We also prize entrepreneurship and small business, and taking care of the elderly.

I strongly support protecting Social Security and Medicare for current and future generations, because that’s what the middle class needs that to sustain itself and our seniors. 

Are there Asian American issues that you’re passionate about?
I’m passionate about making sure small businesses and entrepreneurs always have an opportunity to start and grow their businesses in America, successfully. 

I’m a small business owner myself, so I believe small businesses are the engine of growth for our economy. Another issue I’m passionate about is how we grow and strengthen the middle class.

The middle class is what sustains our country. It’s the backbone of our economy and whatever we can do to strengthen that backbone, the better.

What is the future of Asian Americans in politics?
I think the future is bright. Tammy Duckworth is our current Congresswoman in the Eighth Congressional district, she’s running for U.S. Senate. I think she’s going to win and that’ll be a big milestone for the community within Illinois. And there are others doing well. Theresa Mah is going to be our first Asian American elected State Representative. Josina Morita is going to be the first county wide elected official. So we’re making strides. 

Asian Americans are like any other community, they’re becoming more and more assimilated into the fabric of America and as they do, they will increasingly take up their rightful positions as every other community has in the history of our country. 

So, we’ll see more and more (of their) faces and voices.

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Mia Park
Mia Park shares her passion of discovery through teaching yoga and acting. Currently studying acupuncture and Chinese medicine, Mia is also a producer, writer, motivator, and celebrator of life. Mia has lived in Chicago for over twenty years and calls this city that works her home.

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DePau student Harmony Zhang ​acts in The House of Bernarda Alba​​ by Federico García Lorca, directed by Jeremy Aluma​. ​Lorca’s final play set in the provincial Andalusia, Spain, ignites with the funeral service of Bernarda Alba’s second husband. Ever determined that her five grown daughters maintain a house of honor, Bernarda declares they will have an eight-year mourning period of absolute seclusion. When the eldest daughter receives a large inheritance, potentially sweeping her away from this fate and into an engagement with a handsome bachelor, conflict brews among the sisters repressed by Bernarda’s rule. Set in a time of tumultuous political climate, this story explores the underbelly of what happens when a tyrant seizes power. The House of Bernarda Alba runs Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM November 7, through November 12, 2017. Free tickets can be reserved on October 27, 2017 at noon at the box office, by calling 773-325-7900, or emailing theatreboxoffice@depaul.edu. Press Opening is Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 7:30 PM. **Preview is Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 7:30 PM. The House of Bernarda Alba will be performed in Room 403 of The Theatre School at DePaul University at 2350 N Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 What's your personal story? I grew up in Tucson, Arizona as one of very few Chinese Americans in my neighborhood. I remember that my sister and I were the only Chinese kids in my whole elementary school. However, my family attended a Chinese church in downtown Tucson, and I also attended Tucson Chinese School where I learned to read and write Mandarin Chinese. I’m very thankful for the persistence that my parents had to have my sister and me grow up learning Chinese and holding on to our ethnic culture. However, growing up, I felt like I was never fully Chinese nor fully American. I didn’t feel the need to blend in with the other kids, but I also desired to connect better with others. An opportunity came up in kindergarten when the entire grade put on a show for the whole school. This was the first time that I felt like I was part of a team, part of a larger group effort to create something fun and beautiful. I remember that year, our production was called ‘To the Future and Beyond,’ and I sang the final solo of the show. In middle school and high school, I continued to take drama classes whenever possible. I loved learning about the lives of people so different from me, memorizing my lines, and sharing those stories with audiences. In college at Duke University, I decided to major in Psychology and Theater Studies, and also performed in three of the Theater Department’s Mainstage shows. Currently, I’m in my second year of my MFA in Acting program at The Theatre School at DePaul University. What's your character's story in "The House of Bernarda Alba”? My character’s name is Angustias, which means anguish or distress. She is the eldest unmarried daughter of Bernarda Alba and is already 39. Angustias is the sole daughter of Bernarda Alba’s former husband, while the rest of her sisters are the daughters of Antonio Maria Benavides, the man they are all mourning at the top of the show. Angustias’ father was rich, so when Antonio Maria Benavides dies and the property must be divided, Angustias’ share of the estate is much larger than that of her sisters. This wealth that Angustias has is then attractive to Pepe, who is trying to marry her, and while Angustias truly believes that he loves her for her, she really just wants to be loved and free from the oppression and alienation she feels within the walls of Bernarda’s house. What challenges does your character face telling this story? Angustias is constantly struggling with the antagonistic energy she receives from her sisters. No matter what she does, her sisters find some way to make her feel even more alienated and separate from the group. No one really gives her a chance to share more about herself. Angustias is always defending herself, but somehow it always comes off as offensive towards her sisters. She doesn’t feel understood. She wants her mother’s approval, but also doesn’t feel fully understood by her either. Angustias has a hard time in this story, because she doesn’t feel like anyone is on her side. How does the character overcome those challenges? Angustias changes throughout the play—I won’t give away too much, but in some ways, Angustias is redeemed from all of her bitterness at the end of the play when her sisters discover how they have wronged her. While Angustias behaved more out of spite at the top of the show, she begins to genuinely ask for help, advice, and empathy at the end of the play. Angustias overcomes her challenges of alienation towards the end of the play when she risks being judged by her mother and sisters by being more vulnerable, and seeking to find the truth, even if she gets hurt in the end. Any other comments? I hope that this play helps audience members to be thankful for the people in life who love them, to hold them close, and to try to understand each other instead of being blinded by individual desires. Why not work together? Why not be a team and create something beautiful? Life is too short not to make the most of it every day. Thank you so much for your time!
Mia Park
11/13/2017