by Gloria T. Caoile
My mother is a proud American citizen. Even now, in her 90s, she recites the Pledge of Allegiance and sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” enthusiastically.
She came to this country with the belief that with hard work and determination, she can better her life. And she did. I grew up the daughter of immigrants, and learned through her about our American ideals. She taught me about our American history and our Filipino history, and to be proud of who we are. But, more importantly, she showed me that what makes America so great is that it’s made up of millions of people like me who see America as a place where our diversity unites and strengthens us, not divides us. Where everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, cares about their neighbors and is part of a community.
Yet, despite these ideals, there are two different Americas. Depending on your race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status the life you live is likely leagues different from someone who is white, wealthy, or native-born.
Over the last four years, these divisions have only widened. The injustices we face have become more intense, and the fear between us and our neighbors grows more too. We have lost our way by being outraged every day by a president who stokes our worst inhibitions. But, now we face a choice that can get us back on the right track, a choice that can end the constant outrage, and begin the long path back towards progress and unity. This election is that choice.
Joe Biden is a man who believes in those same ideals my mom taught me. He believes that Americans are good people, who want to work hard and better the lives of their families, our neighbors and our communities. Kamala Harris believes that too. At the core of their platform is the simple belief that no one should be left behind, and a rising tide lifts all boats. They have laid out plans to create a stronger, resilient, and inclusive economy where every American enjoys a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead. They will strengthen unions and help all workers bargain successfully for what they deserve. Simply, they will reward those who, like my mother, just want honest pay for a hard day’s work.
As Filipino Americans, we know we have contributed to this country in many ways. Right now, many of us are on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis while we go back to work.
Hundreds and thousands of Filipino Americans are essential union workers who are facing rising income inequality, stagnant real wages, the loss of pensions, and pay cuts with greater workloads. Many of those are nurses of Filipino descent, in particular, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Even though Filipino American nurses make up a small percentage of the workforce (4%), nearly a third of the registered nurses who have died due to COVID-19 have been nurses of Filipino descent. The effects of the pandemic have not been felt evenly. While this disease does not see color, our country’s systems hurt those of color. And minorities are paying the price.
The Trump administration has failed to take the pandemic seriously and people that look like me are bearing more than our fair share of suffering. We are risking our lives for our neighbors, and what are we getting in return? The Trump administration does not care about us, our fight, and our struggle to keep everyone safe. Vice President Biden does. He will lead us forward, keep us safe, and lead us out of the pandemic.
This is the crossroads we find ourselves at. This is the choice we face. Our lives and our futures are on the ballot because we live in the “other America.” But it doesn’t always have to be that way. We take care of our families, we take care of our communities, and now it’s time to take care of our country.
By electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, we can choose leaders that know our struggle and can fight for us from positions of power to make our lives better. We can begin to bring about the change needed to help save lives and support our families. Joe Biden knows us, and our struggle, and it is time we are heard in the White House.
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Gloria T. Caoile is a multi-awarded civic leader in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. She is a founding member of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), where she currently serves as the Director of Civic Engagement in Nevada. She previously was the Special Assistant to the President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and was a member of the President’s Advisory Commission of AAPIs during the Clinton administration.