Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) and Future Forum – a caucus of 50 of the youngest Members of Congress – hosted a virtual town hall centered around the experiences of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth in San Diego on Wednesday evening. Congresswoman Jacobs opened the event by speaking on the rising trend of anti-Asian violence in the United States, and Jacobs then moderated a conversation with local AAPI leaders, Future Forum Chair Congressman Darren Soto, and Congresswoman Grace Meng, a Member of Future Forum and First Vice-Chair of Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC).
The event took place on Zoom and Facebook Live and can be watched here.
This town hall was the second in Future Forum’s 2021 listening session series, part of their work to address the issues facing young Americans and to better engage them in the work of Congress. Congresswoman Jacobs serves as Vice-Chair of Future Forum and as an Associate Member of CAPAC. San Diego County is home to more than 400,000 members of the AAPI community, many of whom live in California’s 53rd Congressional District.
- Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, Vice-Chair of Future Forum and Associate Member of CAPAC
- Congressman Darren Soto, Chair of Future Forum
- Congresswoman Grace Meng, Member of Future Forum and First Vice-Chair of CAPAC
- Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (via pre-recorded video), Chair Emeritus of Future Forum and Executive Board Member of CAPAC
- Congressman Andy Kim (via pre-recorded video), Member of Future Forum and Executive Board Member of CAPAC
- Nancy Nguyen, Civic Engagement Community Organizer at the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA)
- Brian Hu, Artistic Director at the Pacific Arts Movement
- Andrea Baek, Student Filmmaker
- Lainie Alfaro, Journalism Student at Point Loma Nazarene University and Member of the API Initiative
- Maui Wabe, Student Organizer, Voices of the Filipino American Youth
Congresswoman Jacobs’ opening statement at the town hall was as follows:
Thank you all so much for joining us for this event tonight.
I’m Congresswoman Sara Jacobs and I am proud to represent California’s 53rd Congressional District here in San Diego.
As the youngest Member of Congress from California and the second youngest woman in Congress, it was an easy decision for me to join the Future Forum, a caucus of 50 of the youngest members of Congress.
Last month, I was elected as one of the caucus’ Vice Chairs and am excited to be working with my colleagues to address the issues facing my generation and future generations, and to better engage young Americans in the work of Congress.
Last month, Congressman Soto hosted the first of our Future Forum town halls in his district in Florida, talking with local students about COVID relief and the American Rescue Plan.
So much of our work in the Future Forum is centered around the issues that uniquely affect young Americans – climate change, gun violence, new technologies, college affordability and the student debt crisis…
As I’ve said, it’s our generation and future generations that are going to be living with the consequences of these decisions longer than most, so we should have a seat at the table when that legislation is written.
And that’s really a goal of Future Forum – engaging more young people in the work of Congress – from young Members themselves to young voters and constituents.
I’m really grateful to my colleagues who have joined us here this evening – Future Forum Chair Congressman Darren Soto and Future Forum member and First Vice-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Congresswoman Grace Meng. And we’ll also hear from Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy and Congressman Andy Kim, who can’t join in person, but sent along some remarks.
I’m grateful to them – and to all of you and to our amazing panelists – for being here tonight, because we’re going to have an important discussion about another issue that is facing young Americans – and that’s the rising trend of anti-Asian bigotry and violence in our country.
The violence we have read about in the news and have witnessed in our own communities is heartbreaking, it’s enraging, and it’s unacceptable.
I say it’s a rising trend, because we have seen more and more accounts of this violence lately – but it’s unfortunately not a new problem.
We can’t rightfully say that these sentiments and this violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is “un-American” because prejudice and injustice towards the AAPI community has been written deep into our history books.
In the 1880s, President Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act into law, banning Chinese workers from emigrating to the United States.
During World War II, the United States government committed horrific civil rights abuses against Americans of Japanese descent, sending families to live in internment camps in response to the attack of Pearl Harbor and the war that followed.
Again and again, throughout American history, our government has itself perpetrated injustices against Asian immigrants and the AAPI community.
It’s unacceptable, but until we recognize that prejudice and injustice has, historically, been very American – we won’t be able to undo it.
And that brings us to why we are here today.
Over the past week, I have had a number of conversations with community members and friends and we are all reeling from the violent attacks in Atlanta where a gunman killed eight people, including six Asian women.
We mourn their lives, and we mourn the fact that we aren’t even able to properly grieve one tragedy before another happens.
These aren’t isolated or unprovoked incidents.
I am so grateful that Joe Biden is our president and that we are on a path out of this pandemic – but we all lived through a very dark four years under an American president who openly and cavalierly referred to COVID-19 as “the China virus,” the “Wuhan virus,” and the “Kung flu.”
And we see what has come of it. All across the country we have seen a rise in hate crimes committed against members of the AAPI community.
Last month, right here in San Diego, a Filipina woman was attacked on the trolley as she was traveling downtown.
Today, we are here together to say “no more.”
We have an amazing group of young local leaders who are going to talk about their experiences, the change they are leading here in San Diego, and what they are looking for in their elected leaders.
Before we hear from them, I want to turn it over to my colleagues to share their perspective on the work of Future Forum, on where we go from here, on what Congress can be doing to meet this moment.
So with that, I want to welcome my colleague and Future Forum Chair Congressman Darren Soto.