168: Rep. Gil Cisneros on Anti-Asian Racism, Campaign During COVID-19
These are things that I I. Can I keep speaking out against this? This discrimination and against racism and it's something that I've done before the virus and something that will continue to do after the virus Being a person of color and representing people of Color. But this is part of my job. It's part of what I see is my responsibility is to stick up for them and to speak out and to be the voice. Not a lot of these people feel that they can't be wrong to go to be the one that will be for them. That will fight for them Because a lot of them you know especially if they might be documented and there are a lot of individuals you know both from Stanford Community and from the Asian Community that lives in the thirty nine But I'm there to be their voice and to let them know that I'm here to represent them and I'm here to to speak up for them to make sure that everybody is treated equally. We have heard today not a victory of potty but eight celebrate of freedom symbolizing and as well as they beginning signifying renewal cage. Hello everyone welcome to episode sixty eight of the motto majority podcast but we talk about politics culture and life through the eyes of three Asian. American former field organizers I am your co host Kevin Shoe. Today's podcast is part. Two of a three part series. We're doing with congressional representatives and candidates on how their campaign is adapting to Koba Nineteen and what they are doing to fight back against all the anti-asian hate crimes and discrimination. That's happening across the country. As a result of the fear surrounding cove in nineteen and fanned by Donald Trump. Today's episode is an interview. I did with Congressman Gil Cisneros. Who Represents California's thirty ninth? Congressional district is a very diverse district a minority majority district that is made up of a third Hispanic Third Asian American and Pacific Islanders and a third Anglo white population. We discussed how his campaign operation has been adapting to become a source of service and information for his post issuance during the nineteen and ways that we can speak up and help him help us speak up against all the anti-ageing sentiments that are out there. Part one of this series as some of you may know was a conversation with Congressman Harley Rueda and par-three of this series is with congressional candidate Sri Preston Carney who was a previous guest on our podcast as well. He is currently running to represent the twenty second congressional district in Texas. Make sure your listen and subscribed model majority podcasts. Wherever you get your podcast listening done and check us out on our Social Media Handle at Model Majority pee on twitter and at model majority podcast on instagram. All right without further ado here is my conversation with Congressman Cisneros Congressman Cisneros. Welcome to the MODEL majority podcast. Today will ever having Kevin. It's a pleasure to be here with great. So let's get started by actually getting to know a little bit about your district. I A lot of our audience may or may not know which part of the country you represent. So could you tell us a bit about the Congressional district that you are representing where is it and what are some of it's interesting characteristics? I represent California's thirty ninth Congressional district. It's actually one of the most verse instruments in the country then encompasses parts of three different counts The majority of the district is in Northern Orange County We have about thirty percent of it is the eastern Los Angeles County and we also have a little bit of San Bernardino County as well which consist mainly of Chino Hills. So the make up a demographic wise. It's about a Third Latino. It's a third Asian American Pacific Islander is pretty much all angler white so it really is a great district to be part of. There's a lot of great ethnic food in the district You know it's a minority majority district And it's a large community emigrant community that's growing district and so I'm proud and I'm happy to represent the thirty nine right so I want to talk to about a couple of things as it relates to the corona virus obviously is really taking over. Everybody's lives in some way shape or form and one of the many impact has of course is on campaigning. And you of course are running for reelection just like every other house member every two years. How has your campaign operation been adapting to Cova? One thousand nine hundred either strategically or even being. Repurpose in some way to be used differently. Well to be honest with you campaign kind of ticket bashing compared to the official side our focus my focus mainly been about the corona virus. And how can we support my constituents So you know on our official side. We're taking calls all the time. We were responding to these calls A lot of the word that I'm getting out right now focused on the corona virus You know a lot of the calls that were having regard to that like the other day we did. A Hall regarded around the small businesses. And how they can apply for these different loan programs that are out there to support businesses. That's a lot of what we focused on the campaign side Really like you said. It's not that it stopped completely but it has kind of taken a back seat and really. We're just kind of doing a lot of the same stuff. It's it's about getting the word out to people using our campaign to let people know about new information on the corona virus What's going out there? You know information about the businesses as well Making sure that everybody staying safe getting that word out. It's become a form of communication You know not being able to go out and to hold events like we had in the past Is kind of really made everything? Go Virtual So a lot of the meetings that we're doing now are the things that we do with a campaign are all over. You know the phone now are doing zoom. Meetings are one of the other various website program that you can use to communicate with people. But that's kind of what we're doing now and that's kind of become the new direction and you know we're we're still kind of figuring it out Out of move forward with this But we have a lot of volunteers. we got a lot of people that are getting on the phone making calls for us. checking in on individuals. Giving them information that's important that we took the corona virus and it's just really our adjusting but it is Indefinitely as a change from how we've done things in the past and as we kind of further into this we're continuing to adapt and we'll continue to make adjustments as we move forward one thing. I would love to hear from you given the makeup of your district like you said as a Third Hispanic thirty Asian American Pacific Islanders third wide. Is I think a lot of what's happening on the ground is exposing how our system is not really working at all or is working for certain people and not working for other kinds of people a lot of it along racial lines. Have you seen some of that happening? Your district or even of course using your official capacity to help alleviate some of those gaps in those differences whether supporting individuals and or businesses. While you know you know I'm a person who Hispanic origin Mexican American So strong connection with the people in the district when it comes on most racial lines a lot of my relatives as well. You know that are also Asian American You know my uncle. Peter who's my wife's maiden my my mom's brother his wife my aunt. Sally is Chinese so I have cousins. That are Cheney they have cousins that are Pacific Islander so I'm able to connect with the individuals. There is a certain thing color that we we know. Were I have a connection with them Discrimination that something that I faced growing up. I know it's something a lot of my constituents are facing right now. Especially around. The Corona virus can even one of my staff members in states You know discrimination. People making comments At him because of him being Chinese But you know these are things that I can. I keep speaking out against this discrimination against racism and it's something that I've done before the virus and then something that will continue to do after the virus being a person and color and representing people of Color and this is part of my job. And it's it's part of what I see is my responsibility is to stick up for them and to speak out and to be the voice not a lot of these people feel that they can't be to go to be the one that will speak up for them that will fight for them Because a lot of them you know especially if they might be undocumented and there are a lot of individuals both from the Stanford Community and from the Asian Community that lives in the thirty nine But I'm there to be their voice and to let them know that I'm here to represent them and I'm here to to speak up for them to make sure that everybody is treated equally right. Definitely 'cause one thing we've of course seen a lot as well which echoes. What you're saying is a lot of people. A number one really getting hated on for lack of a better term particularly asian-americans during this episode of course racism and hate crime against certain people of color has been going on for a long time. And one thing we've been telling people on the ground of course to not only report these incidents but maybe proactively support immigrants people who don't speak English very well people who are undocumented really anybody who don't feel like don't don't feel comfortable reaching out to law enforcement which is obviously a very scary thing right to talk about this stuff and that just makes people fear for even though it's within their rights to do so and one thing. I love to hear from you is one of you your office. Receive a lot of these reporting or a complaint. So you're them and also number two. What is being done with this information gathering rikers? We love to close the loop on this grassroots activism to support people to tell them that hey congress people or people in positions of certain power are doing good with this information and we have a hopeful future in some sense to look forward to. So we've been getting these calls and we've been documenting them in my office You know a lot of we have a lot of small business owners at are of the Asian American Pacific from Asian American Pacific Islander Community That have seen their businesses. Started to go down Right from the beginning when news this virus starting to come out. You know when you you heard people that have like I said People directed comments Ethnic slurs towards because of their their origin their ethnic origin. Just because of this virus. Until we're documenting this stuff and we're taking that information and this is you know some of the reasons and the things that I've done in. Congress is partnered with my colleague grace meaning from from New York to do a letter sticking out against this discrimination. We sent a letter. No I can a letter with my colleagues as well but to the president asking him to stand up and speak out against a lot of this discrimination happing towards the Asian American Pacific Islander community because of the virus. We asked him. You know to stop using you know ethnic you know ethnic turns In regards to the virus which you know when he does that really focuses alight and it lets people you know China's. He's trying to tell people that they're in a way responsible for that. And then that's nothing could be further from the case And so these are things that we're doing and we take information and we take it back to Congress and you know we're doing these letters and we're asking for resolutions and we're looking at you know possible legislation that we can do kind of like I said earlier. Speak Up for communities racism in this discrimination. That's being targeted for the American Asian American Pacific Islander Community. And you know like you said we've done this before the virus and we will continue to do it after virus. That's right so I want to wrap up our conversation with kind of a quick call to action if he were from urine. Whether there's anything that you WANNA listeners to pay attention to to go visit a website because I think a lot of this challenge and we're facing we had to get through it together right. It's not completely up to the representatives. Do Everything we as people on the ground to help you out and you of course and to help us out and is really partnership hopefully in some sense and we will do what we can to tell people what to do. But what are some things that you'd like folks to pay attention to so that they can help you do what you do while there? There's a few people can go to first of all anybody can go to my website Scenarios Dot House Dot Gov and really check that out and kind of we have a lot of the current information. That's up there. You're maintaining island the stuff that we've been doing To go out there and let people know we've been working on and and just a lot of you know stuff from the CDC but people can always go to the CDC website as well. You know in regards to public health to find out what the wouldn't new information is coming out as long as they're county public health department as well but also In regards to a lot of the discrimination I think people should go to Asian Americans advancing justice in read a lot of the information on that website and really communicate with them especially. They're facing a lot of this discrimination. But but continue please if anybody is out there facing discrimination Please you gotta speak up and you got to let people know we're going to be able to go to fight. The chancing is if we can work together and work on this these issues together and this is why it's important for my constituents to let me know the racism and discrimination that they're facing so I can like I said earlier be their voice that they're afraid distinct up I can be bad boys and that will take the message for then. I will work with my colleagues To make sure that we fight against racism we fight against discrimination not only for Asian American community but also about their immigration. Discrimination Definitely Congressman Cisneros. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to join us and give us your thoughts and also everything that you're doing. We we really really appreciate it. Well thank you for having me really do appreciate it.