Asian Americans are sounding off following President Trump's controversial comments at two fundraisers that took place in New York earlier this month.
Two weeks ago, Trump visited the Hamptons to speak at a fundraising event hosted by real estate developer Stephen Ross and another by homebuilder Joe Farrell, the New York Post reports. At one point, he touched on conversations he had had with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. While doing so, he put on a fake Asian accent to mimic them, according to the newspaper.
The incident has since triggered members of the Asian American community, some of whom have criticized the president for perpetuating foreign stereotypes of one of the U.S's fastest growing demographics, the Associated Press notes.
"It empowers people who would be predisposed to doing that kind of thing anyway," Amanda Berg, a Korean American who grew up in Colorado, told the news agency. "And it makes it acceptable to be openly, increasingly discriminating."
It also comes at a time when the Asian American voting population has more than doubled — from 4.3 million to 11.1 million — in the last 20 years, the Associated Press reports. As the community has grown over the past two decades, so has the percentage of Asian Americans who have aligned with the Democratic Party — from 53 percent in 1998 to 65 percent in 2017, the Pew Research Center points out.
In that context, Trump's words aren't doing much to help the Republican Party, Natalie Masuoka, a professor of political science and Asian American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the Associated Press.
"He’s willing to use Asian stereotypes, Asian accents in his public speeches," she explained. "In that way ... the way Americans are talking about race is now shifting possibly back to what historically was effective before the civil rights revolution."
When asked about the backlash from the Asian American community, a spokesperson for Trump's re-election campaign dismissed any concerns.
"The Asian American community has never been stronger than under President Trump’s leadership," Kayleigh McEnany told the Associated Press. "Millions of Asian Americans have secured access to the strongest economy in modern history, with the Asian American unemployment rate hitting a record low under the leadership of President Trump."