Ben

Today, I announce my candidacy for New Hampshire State Representative in the Hillsborough 40 District. I do so, not with the nervous excitement that I had when I committed to running, but with a renewed sense of purpose, a feeling that was with me when I filed a week ago with the Hollis Town Clerk. The gravity of the moment we're living in gives a much greater meaning to who we elect to represent us than it has in recent memory.

The past few weeks have been a time of great significance and seemingly insurmountable injustice, and the stability of our everyday lives over the past few months has been broadsided by COVID-19. It is in these challenging times that I believe we need to pick up easy wins and fix the things that are within our grasp. I want to provide local solutions to local problems that can benefit all of us. To me, that means lowering real estate taxes, making it easier to retire in rural New Hampshire, and providing representation to young families.

But it can't end there...

It is impossible to understand what it is to be a black person in America right now unless you yourself are black, so for those of us who aren't, we must consider who we are, where we stand in the racial hierarchy of the U.S., and what role we can play in correcting injustice. This is who I am...

A Chinese-American, a son of immigrants, and the first lawyer in my family. Many of my fellow Asian-Americans live in a space we believe to be a type of racial limbo. Highly respected at times, but also not without the sense that we are less than. Put aside the codified racism against our kind in the not-so-distant past and things haven't been so bad. For the most part, we don't wake up on-guard, unsure of our safety in navigating everyday life based solely on what we look like. We are often privileged to achieve what many would call the American Dream based solely on effort. However...

There's a glass ceiling that many Asian Americans deal with. Some see the sun and will slam themselves against that barrier, believing someday, if they achieve enough, are successful enough, they will get to be part of the majority. Others, however, realize the truth; that there's no such thing as enough, that the ceiling is impenetrable, and that the answer is not to become, but to lift up.

That is what I can offer as a non-white, but non-Black, American; to lift up and support other diverse candidates as I try to provide representation of my own. I am no more able to implore the majority that #BlackLivesMatter than any other person, and convince those who choose not to listen, to do so, but I believe that representation matters and it is the contribution that I can make right now.

But it can't end there…

It pains me that I will have no useful advice for my young nephew how to navigate this world as a black child, as a black man, but I hope when he's old enough to understand, that he will see that his family did everything in their power to make his world a safer place to live.

It's not about guilt, but about accountability to our young children. They will leave New Hampshire some day, and if we haven't given them the social and emotional tools to understand the increasingly diverse world we live in, they will have questions. Why didn't we educate them? Why didn't we do more?

New Hampshire may not be the State to make a case for progress in diversity, as it is one of the least diverse states in the country. We haven't reached representation in the State House that is even close to in line with the racial makeup of this state. However, everyone who calls New Hampshire home should care about this shortfall and this is the reason.

New Hampshire is aging. Why? Because young people and young families are leaving disproportionately to those who are staying. We have an opportunity right now. To make New Hampshire more appealing to young people and young families who are increasingly diverse, and constitute a workforce that will offset those who should be approaching retirement. If we fail to make New Hampshire a more affordable and welcoming place to raise a family, we will fall behind. We will end up relying on raising already-high real estate taxes to pay for the increasing costs of municipal services. Increasing real estate taxes will make it even more difficult than it already is for those on a fixed income to plan for retirement. And for those who shun this progress, I submit to you that this state will not be the utopia of the way things used to be. It will be a relic of a forgotten time, languishing, because it did not choose the path that the rest of the country had already set forth upon.

So I leave you with this. We can't make all the changes we need in a day, but we don't need much to make big changes in our everyday lives. We simply must care enough to put the right people in the right places so that, together, we can make New Hampshire stronger than it's ever been.

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