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It is a fact of political life Representative Judy Chu is accustomed to: when there is a discussion about people of color in Washington, she will inevitably have to elbow her way in so that Asian-Americans are considered.


“We have long had a problem with Asian-Americans being invisible in politics,” said Ms. Chu, the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress, who represents Pasadena, Calif. “When the conversations are about people of color, we are always making sure that we are included and we have to insert ourselves in the process.”


The intense focus on racial identity in politics has once again left some in the Asian-American community considering what diversity really means — and how exactly they fit in.


“A couple of journalists have asked me whether I feel a responsibility to represent all people of color on the debate stage,” Mr. Yang said recently in a tweet. “I tell them that is impossible — our communities are too diverse for that. Most Americans I meet are concerned about very similar things.”


That Mr. Yang — a candidate who has risen from almost complete obscurity to become one of just a few Asian-Americans to ever mount a serious run at the presidency — will be the only nonwhite person speaking to millions of voters on Thursday is in itself extraordinary to many political veterans.


Still, Asian-Americans are far too often left out of conversations about people of color, said Mark Takano, a Japanese-American Democratic congressman from Riverside, Calif.


“It’s a blind spot even among progressives,” Mr. Takano said. “In my experience, progressives are dominated by a lot of educated white people. They tend to think about African-Americans and Latinos as people of color, and Asian-American somehow doesn’t count.”


Mr. Takano blames much of the problem on the myth of the “model minority,” which over-generalizes Asians as diligent and high-achieving, and the idea that Asian-Americans do not have any of the same challenges as blacks or Latinos.


“The reason it’s important to think about Asians-Americans right now is they offer this window into race relations, identity and privilege,” said Janelle Wong, a professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, who studies Asian-American politics.


During Mr. Yang’s remarkable political ascent, he has largely sought to avoid extended discussions about his background, choosing instead to focus on ideas like his signature policy, universal basic income. His crowds at rallies in big cities are young and diverse, and include Asian-Americans who say they were drawn in by his ideas, but are also happy to see someone who looks like them running for president.


To that point, several experts and activists in the Asian-American community said they hope he will use his time as the only candidate of color on the debate stage Thursday to address issues of race head-on.


At about 6 percent of the United States population, Asian-Americans are not a large enough voting bloc to propel a national candidate to victory on their own. But Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders represent about one out of every six registered voters in California and Asian-American voters in swing states could prove critical in a close election.


Asian-Americans are also the fastest growing racial group in the United States. Many experts believe that anti-immigration rhetoric increasingly espoused by the Republican Party under President Trump has helped ensure that the voting bloc leans heavily Democrat.


“There’s no question that the backbone of the Democratic Party is African-Americans; we’re not saying ‘look at us not them.’ We’re saying ‘look at us also,’” said Manjusha P. Kulkarni, the executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council — a coalition of more than 40 community based organizations that serve and represent about 1.5 million Asian-Americans Los Angeles County.