0-Advocacy_Politics_COLLIER_2008 - Advocacy Agencies and...

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Advocacy Agencies and Politics by Malcolm Collier (2008 revision) Historically, the dominant characteristic of Asian American involvement in electoral politics has been its absence, this was largely the product of restrictions on citizenship and other forms of discrimination which served to discourage participation. After 1965, changing immigration laws and the reaffirmation of racial minority civil rights led to a huge increase in Asia American population and the removal of legal barriers to political activity. Following these changes, participation in electoral politics by Asian Americans had increased substantially. An important component of this new activity was the development of "advocacy politics," beginning in the late 1960's. This essay explores the connection between the development of modern advocacy oriented agencies and the development of modern Asian American involvement in local politics. It is proposed that the development of modern advocacy agencies in Asian American communities between 1960 and the early 1990s had an important role in providing a political voice for those communities and in laying the foundation for the movement of Asian Americans into electoral political activity and offices. Most examples used come from the context the Chinese American communities of San Francisco, California but similar patterns are found in other Asian American communities as well.(1) Nature of Advocacy Politics "Advocacy politics" is the use of social service agencies, programs, and community organizations as bases from which to publicly advocate the interests of communities and constituencies before governmental commissions, agencies, administrators, and elected bodies or officials. The goal of such advocacy is to affect government on both administrative and policy levels. Subjects addressed in the advocacy process can range from details of local permit application processes to the character of federal legislation on immigration. Zoning, schools, transportation, health, housing, employment, law enforcement, appointments to boards and commissions, funding of programs, selection of judges, and all forms of local, state, and federal legislation are subject to political influence through such advocacy activities. Involvement in advocacy leads to increased public contact with government officials, politicians, and, ultimately, with electoral politics. The development of modern Asian American advocacy work can be illustrated by examples from the Chinese American communities in San Francisco. Here, the late 1960's and 1970's saw the formation of a number of new organizations that often provided specific services to clients but which also saw vigorous public advancement of Chinese American needs as a primary activity. Self Help for the Elderly, Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), On Lok, Chinatown Neighborhood Improvement Resource Center (CNIRC, later called Chinatown Resource Center or CRC, and now called the Chinatown Community Development Center), Asian Inc., and the Association of
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This document was uploaded on 11/04/2011 for the course ETHS 220 at S.F. State.

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0-Advocacy_Politics_COLLIER_2008 - Advocacy Agencies and...

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