Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote–Michigan quickly expressed outrage with Pete Hoekstra’s “Debbie-spend-it-now” campaign ad, which played on harmful stereotypes of Asians speaking broken English and has stereotypical Chinese music playing in the background.
Mr. Hoekstra’s campaign chose to use harmful and negative stereotypes that intrinsically encourage anti-Asian sentiment. APIAVote-Michigan demanded that the campaign halt the airing of this appalling commercial and to take down the distasteful website.
From 2000 to 2010, the Asian American community grew at the largest rate (34.9%) of all racial groups and continues to be a major contributor to the economy in Michigan.
No elected official or candidate for office, regardless of political affiliation, should use stereotypical imagery or language. The use of these stereotypes is counter to the progress our country has made over past decades to encourage respect for all communities.
APIAVote has seen the various explanations presented to justify the creation of the ad, but we believe it’s a weak attempt to rationalize the use of promoting fear by using racial tactics.
The attempt was to win some additional votes, but by promoting xenophobia Hoekstra only created an atmosphere of exclusion in Michigan. Asian Americans in Michigan and nationwide have a long history of contributing to the economy and the innovation of America. This type of political strategy cannot be implemented at the expense of the community.
APIAVote and many of our grassroots partners in Michigan are working hard to promote inclusion of the diverse communities in the civic engagement process.