South Asians and Elected Office

The mission of our organization might seem oddly specific at first glance. Though the civic engagement is important, why specifically the South Asian community in the Bay Area? How many people does this pertain to? The answer is many.

Between 2000 and 2010, the South Asian American population became the fastest growing major ethnic group in the United States. It comprises of those with ethnic backgrounds tracing back to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan is also considered part of South Asia by some, though it is up for debate. It also includes members of the South Asian diaspora — past generations of South Asians who previously settled in other parts of the world before immigrating to the United States. These communities have emerged in concentrated areas of the country, one of which being the state of California. One of the metropolitan areas with the highest South Asian population is the San Francisco Bay Area.

As a result, South Asians are becoming an increasingly powerful segment of the American electorate, with U.S. citizens of voting age increasing up to 471% since 2000. In regards to our civic engagement, our representation is lacking. The most high-profile elected officials of South Asian descent are Senator Kamala Harris, and Congress members Ami Bera and Ro Khanna. However, in the Bay Area counties — including, Santa Clara, Marin, Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Sonoma, and Napa — there are few local officials of South Asian descent serving at the county level.

This demonstrates a large disparity between the rising population South Asian Americans in the area and officials who understand the community enough to represent them with their best interests in mind. This is why promoting civic engagement in our community is important, and it’s why we do the work we do.

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