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AudioStories

Why Are Some of Silicon Valley’s Best and Brightest Spending Time on a Foreign Election?

Forget the midterm U.S. elections: Indian immigrants are pouring energy and campaign contributions into India’s national elections.

Stories

Where is Their Vote? Iranian-Americans in New York Join the Debate over Iran’s Contested Election

By Aditi Anand, Feet in 2 Worlds

As turmoil continued in Iran over last month’s contested presidential election, several hundred people gathered in New York City’s Union Square last Wednesday for a vigil in support of those protesting the vote’s results. The vigil was organized by the NYC arm of Where is My Vote, an Iranian diaspora organization, largely over Facebook and other social media sites.

Participants dressed in green or wearing green armbands lit candles, stood behind large swaths of green fabric and held signs reading, “Where is My Vote?” and “RIP Neda”— the latter in reference to Neda Soltan, whose gruesome death was seen around the world after she was reportedly gunned down by pro-government forces during protests in Tehran.

Many in the crowd chanted “Down with the dictator” in English as well as other slogans in Farsi.

Watch video footage of the vigil:

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Feet in Two Worlds on The Brian Lehrer Show and Marketplace

Pilar Marrero and Aswini Anburajan joined Brian Lehrer on Thursday (9/25/08) on WNYC, New York Public Radio to talk about the impact of mortgage foreclosures and the financial crisis on immigrants in the US. They also discussed how economic concerns may affect the election in battleground states like Nevada and Florida, which have large numbers of Latino voters.

Click here to listen to the segment.

In a piece that aired on Marketplace on Friday (9/26/08), Aswini Anburajan reports on the rising political influence of Indian Americans. During the presidential primaries, Indian American donors gave $5 million each to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and half a million dollars to John McCain. Now some of these Democratic voters are seeking to expand their national presence with a political action committee, the Indian American Leadership Initiative.

Listen to the full story on the Marketplace Web site.

Favorite Son? Ethnic groups want Obama in their story

In the media frenzy over the Latino vote and the candidates’ recent speeches before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and National Council of La Raza, scant attention has been paid to Barack Obama’s increasing levels of outreach to other ethnic groups, notably Asian-Americans.

In June, Obama’s Indonesian-American sister Maya Soetoro-Ng appeared at a fundraiser targeting Asian voters in California, where she described Obama’s youth in Indonesia and Hawaii (a state where 56% of the population is Asian-American) in an effort to highlight his close ties to their community. Earlier, Soetoro-Ng’s Chinese-Canadian husband Konrad Ng told the New York-based Chinese newspaper World Journal that Obama was deeply influenced by Asian cultural values as a result of his upbringing. This appeal to Asian-Americans will likely increase as Soetoro-Ng continues to campaign more aggressively in the fall and as the campaign makes a more deliberate effort to engage ethnic media to reach voters.

The renewed emphasis on Asian Americans is part of Obama’s evolution in branding from a “post-racial” candidate at the start of the election cycle- remember his “swift and unequivocal” dismissal of race in November 2006—to that of a multiracial candidate who embraces his multicultural identity. Soetero-Ng acknowledged in an Associated Press interview that during the primary season,“the idea was to downplay to some degree race and ethnicity.” But the national maelstrom created by Rev. Wright’s comments and the burgeoning importance of Latino voters lessens the possibility of the campaign doing so now. (more…)