By Chamiya Carnathan
Have you ever wondered what candidates running for DC Council member in DC are thinking of the rising violence against Asians and Pacific Islanders? On Friday, October 14th, 2022, my classmate, Penelope Morris, and I, along with the Executive Director of Globalize DC, met Graham McLaughlin in the home of Allister Chang and discussed with him the issues of anti-Asian hate.
Graham McLaughlin is an Executive at a Fortune 10 company. For eight years, he rented rooms in his house to men out of jail or federal prison to support former inmates in the District. He also frequently hosts events at his home: Sunday meals for talking about religion, Thursday dinners for ex-offenders to learn business skills, and Pancake Saturdays for ex-offenders rebuilding their lives as well as anyone else in the mood for brunch and chat. He received an endorsement from the Washington Post stating that his top priorities include reducing crime and discrimination against LGBT residents.
Because he knew about our Japanese Tamago #Stop Asian Hate Project, Allister Chang, Ward 2 Member on the DC State Board of Education, invited Globalize DC, as well as several of his own friends, to his home to meet Graham McLaughlin and raise concerns about affordable housing, violence against ethnic groups, support for teachers, and more. “On your education page, I see that you’re passionate about getting children the education that they need,” I said in response to one of the numerous inquiries Graham received, “The social studies standards don’t provide enough information on Asian American history, so I was curious what you thought about inclusion of Asian American standards.” Graham retorted that while he agrees that the standards fall short of meeting their full potential in terms of Asian American content, he lacks the necessary background to speak on the subject of curriculum and Asian American history. In response, Penelope asked if he would be open to collaborating with AAPI organizations to discuss the inclusion of more Asian American history in the DCPS Social Studies Standards. In response, Graham said that he definitely would work with AAPI organizations to advance Asian inclusion in education in the future. This response fit Graham’s character, as he seemed to appreciate the need for collaboration in order to resolve many of DC’s concerns.
In conclusion, meeting Graham McLaughlin was a terrific opportunity to learn about the political philosophies of prospective Council members. I learned from meeting Graham that he was an honest man who was aware of his talents as well as areas where he still needed to learn more.