BY: ALTON WANG
This week, mailers calling for the deportation of two Asian American school board candidates were sent to households in Edison, New Jersey. These mailers urged voters to “Make Edison Great Again,” complaining that Chinese and Indians were “taking over our town” with Chinese and Indian schools, cricket fields, and “McMansions.” Edison is a township in New Jersey’s Middlesex County only miles from New York City.
As one of the largest cities in New Jersey, Edison also has one of the largest Asian populations in the state. The share of Asian residents in Edison is five times larger than the share of Asians in New Jersey population as a whole. While Asians make up 9% of the population in New Jersey, they are 47% of the population in Edison. Today, more Asian Americans—particularly South Asians—in New Jersey are becoming increasingly active in politics, including growing numbers of Asian Americans running for elected office throughout the state.
Furthermore, the population of Asian residents in Edison—and throughout New Jersey—continue to grow faster than the general population. The Asian population in Edison grew by 20%, compared to 2.3% for the general population from the 2006-2010 to the 2011-2015 American Community Survey reporting periods. This is even greater than the Asian population growth rate statewide, which grew 15.4% during the same period, compared to a 2.1% statewide population growth rate.
While it is clear that such xenophobic and racist tactics serve as a backlash to the growing Asian population in Edison and across New Jersey, we should be celebrating this growth, not attacking it. As the Asian American community in Edison and New Jersey continues to engage in the political process, it is critical that we uplift this work and push back against such displays of hate.