BREAKING: California Legislators Introduce Bill to Reinstate Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity For All

Legislators and activists announce ACA5, a bill to repeal Proposition 209 and to restore affirmative action in the state. (Photo credit: Magali Kincaid / Twitter)

Nearly 25 years after ballot measure Proposition 209 ended race- and gender-conscious affirmative action in the state of California, several California legislators are working in partnership with a broad multiracial coalition of advocacy groups and have introduced a new bill — Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA5) — to repeal Proposition 209 and to restore equal opportunity for all Californians.

The bill, announced in a press conference at the California State Capitol this morning, cites the damage enacted by two decades under Proposition 209 to women, people of colour and minority-owned businesses, many of whom have become increasingly underrepresented in California state schools and the professional sector.

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California Formally Apologizes to Japanese Americans for WWII Incarceration

Three young Japanese American incarcerees peer through a barbed wire fence at Manzanar camp. (Photo credit: Toyo Miyatake)

The California State Assembly voted unanimously today to pass a bill that formally apologizes for its role in the WW2 incarceration of approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans in camps throughout the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest. The bill apologized for all of the state’s past actions related to incarceration, including for its passage of anti-Asian land laws and other discriminatory laws that contributed to anti-Asian disenfranchisement and racist hysteria in the state in the decades leading up to Executive Order 9066 and the forcible imprisonment of Japanese Americans in camps in 1942.

The bill, introduced by State Assembly member Albert Muratsuchi, reads:

Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, That the Assembly apologizes to all Americans of Japanese ancestry for its past actions in support of the unjust exclusion, removal, and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, and for its failure to support and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of Japanese Americans during this period

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CA Secretary of State Building to be Renamed for March Fong Eu

March Fong Eu (Photo credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)

California’s first female Secretary of State and the first Asian American woman publicly elected to a state constitutional office, March Fong Eu, will be memorialized when the California Secretary of State building complex is renamed in her honour.

Eu died last week at the age of 95 after a long and storied career in public service.

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BREAKING: California Governor Signs AAPI Data Disaggregation Bill Into Law

California State Assemblymember Rob Bonta, author of The Ahead Act (AB1726) which would expand data disaggregation for AAPIs in California, speaks to supporters at a rally earlier this year. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
California State Assemblymember Rob Bonta, author of The Ahead Act (AB1726) which would expand data disaggregation for AAPIs in California, speaks to supporters at a rally earlier this year. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Following years of tireless advocacy work by AAPI advocacy groups, California has signed a critical data disaggregation bill into law.

AB1726 (also called “The AHEAD Act”) was introduced before the California Legislature early this year by bill author Assemblyman Rob Bonta. Recognizing that most state and federal data generally lump all members of the nearly 50 ethnic groups that comprise the AAPI community into a single monolithic category or disaggregate by only a handful of ethnic identifiers, the bill called for the expanded disaggregation of state public health and higher education data to include at least ten more ethnic categories for AAPIs. Those new ethnic options — which include checkboxes for those who identify as Bangladeshi, Hmong, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Thai, Fijian and Tongan — were consistent with what is currently available via the National Census.

Meanwhile, the lack of disaggregated data renders invisible several achievement disparities — including increased incidence of certain treatable diseases and/or reduced education access — that disproportionately impact certain AAPI ethnic groups over others. Without the capacity to draw awareness to those inequities, no culturally- or linguistically-specific resources are devoted to addressing them.

The AHEAD Act was designed to take the first step towards helping the thousands of Asian American and Pacific Islander Californians who are currently underserved by state and federal services.

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California’s Proposed Bill to Disaggregate AAPI Data Significantly Weakened in New Amendments

Attendees at a recent rally in support of AB1726, a data disaggregation scheduled to reach the CA Senate floor soon. (Photo Credit: @DiverseElders / Twitter )
Attendees at a recent rally in support of AB1726, a data disaggregation scheduled to reach the CA Senate floor soon. (Photo Credit: @DiverseElders / Twitter )

After months of increasingly vitriolic debate that divided the AAPI community, California Assembly Bill 1726 (AB1726) was significantly amended on Friday. In its original version, AB1726 was the culmination of years of lobbying work by California’s AAPI advocacy community, and it would have put in place measures to disaggregate healthcare and higher education data to reveal disparities faced by Southeast Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the state. Using the same ethnic options offered by the National Census, AB1726 would have expanded the ethnic self-identification choices offered in demographic studies conducted by state departments related to healthcare and higher education.

Last year, AB1726’s predecessor, Assembly Bill 176, passed the California Legislature with near unanimous bipartisan support and the backing of several local California advocacy groups, only to be vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. This cycle’s AB1726 was expected to pass the Legislature with similarly minimal resistance, until it faced inexplicably intense backlash from grassroots Chinese American groups that had originally organized around SCA-5 (and protests against Jimmy Kimmel) in the state. What emerged was a vocal, deeply inflammatory, arguably paranoid resistance to AB1726, wherein opponents suggested while the bill was still in Committees that it would create a “backdoor” to reinstitute race-conscius affirmative action in the state.

How a data collection bill designed was supposed to circumvent California state law prohibiting race-conscious affirmative action in higher education remains unclear to me.

Yet, no one can deny this grassroots conservative Chinese American movement’s growing clout.

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