Nearly twenty years ago, California voters passed Proposition 209, a ballot measure that effectively outlawed affirmative action in state-run institutions. Among other effects of Prop 209 was the loss of affirmative action policies — the ability for college admissions officers from being able to consider race among other application criteria — in the state-wide UC college system.
Prop 209 has had a devastating effect on UC schools: Black, Latino, Native American, Southeast Asian American and Pacific Islander admission rates have dropped precipitously relative to the pace of their population growth over the last twenty years, resulting in a public, taxpayer-funded university system that has effectively excluded many of the state’s underrepresented minority community — roughly 45% of the state’s total population — from access to quality secondary education.
Currently, the California House and Senate are considering Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 (SCA5), a bill that would create an exemption for public education from Prop 209, re-empowering the UC system to once again employ reasonable affirmative action policies in their admissions process. Should SCA5 pass the California Senate later this year, it will be put on the November ballot for public consideration. Passage of SCA5 is a necessary first step to restore access and equality for California’s underrepresented minorities to a college education.
Unfortunately, although 61% of Asian American voters in California voted against Proposition 209 in 1996 to protect affirmative action, recent efforts by conservative Asian Americans — predominantly Chinese American non-profits and news outlets — have resulted in a widespread campaign of misinformation and outright fear over SCA5 in many Asian American voters.
To set the record straight, here are the top 5 myths — and facts — about SCA5, and why you should support it.
Despite the precepts of the Model Minority Myth, not all Asian American & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the United States arrived as wealthy, middle-class East Asian entrepreneurs to pursue graduate degrees or to start small businesses. According to statistics published yesterday by the Center for American Progress, one-fifth of AAPI who received permanent resident status in 2012 did so as refugees or asylees; yet this population — many of whom can trace their ethnic heritage to Southeast Asia — struggles for visibility against the backdrop of the larger AAPI community. This invisibility is exacerbated by the absence of disaggregated data for the AAPI community along ethnic lines, which can reveal the unique sociopolitical iniquities that plague Southeast Asian Americans.
According to the United Nations, America is home to approximately 70,000 Bhutanese Americans, representing less than 0.5% of the AAPI population. Bhutanese Americans are ethnically derived from the small land-locked country of Bhutan, a small country in the Himalayas bordered by the two much larger nations of China and India. In the 1980′s, thousands of Bhutanese were forced out of Bhutan during a period of countrywide political turmoil (many expelled Bhutanese were targeted due to their non-Tibetan origins), and were forced to relocate to temporary refugee camps in the neighbouring country of Nepal; some subsequently accepted permanent relocation to the United States as political refugees starting in 2008.
Currently, the Bhutanese American population is concentrated in several states including Texas, Arizona, and New York. In New Hampshire, the state’s population of 2000 Bhutanese Americans represent 65% of the state’s total refugee population.
And shockingly, our country’s small, young, and underserved population of Bhutanese American refugees suffer among the country’s highest rates of PTSD, depression, and suicide — the latter of which is nearly twice that of national suicide rates — indicating a clear failure of America’s existing healthcare and social services programs to adequately address and support Bhutanese Americans.
Okay, before I start this post, let me first ask one thing: what the heck is a Valleywag? Apparently, it’s some Gawker-esque site for Silicon Valley. I know now, because Google told me so.
Anyways, earlier today, Valleywag writer Nitasha Tiku decided to report on a matchmaking start-up called “The Dating Ring”, where the basic business plan is to match single women from NYC with single men from San Francisco, in some sort of unholy love-child born of the sweaty caresses between OKCupid and a frequent flyer program.
I guess this is what ValleyWag considers news. Personally, I don’t really think this is news-worthy; but, I also think this is a relatively harmless start-up, that should in theory facilitate romance between consenting (if kind of insipid, if one bases one’s opinion on those interviewed for the campaign video) adults while also helping to buoy sales for the nation’s flagging airlines. So, if that’s what floats the boats of Valleywag readers, and apparently is something that Tiku finds disturbing in some way, then by all means — write away.
But, nothing about The Dating Ring — in any way — resembles the Comfort Women who were brutalized and victimized during World War II. And yet, writes Tiku for Valleywag (emphasis mine):
(This post was updated on March 5, 2014 with an email chain containing Valleywag’s refusal to apologize for this incident. It was updated again on March 6, 2014 with an email chain between Valleywag writer Nitasha Tiku and a reader, and again later that day with further developments.)
Caught this in my Facebook, and definitely want to advertise this: the Asian American Women’s Political Initiative (AAWPI) is a political leadership organization focused on AAPI women, hoping to encourage, support and train AAPI women to enter into US politics. AAWPI note that currently, only 0.5% of state legislators in the U.S. are Asian American women, and only one holds state-wide office.
But AAWPI needs your help. If you have a few dollars kicking around, please consider donating to AAWPI’s Indiegogo campaign! They are hoping to raise $7500 in the next two months to help fund internships and other training programs for young Asian American women!
Regular readers of the blog will remember my occasional stories of my desperately Americanized childhood: those brief years when my parents would identify some quintessentially “Western” cultural practice, and try to synthesize it for me and my sister — often without ever quite understanding why White people even liked the thing in the first place — in futile, and ultimately comical, attempts by two culturally displaced Taiwanese parents to ensure the proper North American upbringing for their daughters. This is how I saw my first baseball game at Skydome, how my father burnt my first Thanksgiving turkey, and how I choked down my first bowl of oatmeal with the consistency of concrete.
And this is also how enduring the Academy Awards became an annual tradition in my house.
For years, my mother, my sister and I would gather around the television one Sunday evening and “ooh and ahh” over the fabulously-coifed White ladies and gentlemen as they floated down a red carpet a thousand miles away. Later, we would watch the entire Academy Awards from start-to-finish, rarely commenting (my mother would wander off, during the middle parts of the ceremony when the more technical awards were announced). Even after I moved away, the Academy Awards was my Superbowl, and I would relish the night of opulence-by-proxy, printing out nomination cards to keep track of the winners against my own predictions.
But, as the years passed, my interest in the Oscars waned. And now, as I sat mere hours away from the start of 86th Academy Awards ceremony, and I realized that I wouldn’t be tuning in. I realized that I haven’t watched the ceremony in years. I realized that some time in the last decade, the Oscars stopped being relevant to me.
And then, I realized: maybe the Academy Awards were never relevant.
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