CA Gov. Jerry Brown Vetoes #AAPI Data Disaggregation Bill

California Governor Jerry Brown.
California Governor Jerry Brown.

(H/T K. Ramakrishnan)

Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown took a stance against the ethnic disaggregation of state-collected Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) data, and in so doing positioned himself against California’s AAPI, Black, and Latino communities, and against the recommendations of many of the institutions directly affected.

In a brief letter, Gov. Brown announced he would be vetoing Assembly Bill AB-176, which called for new state-wide guidelines for the collection of AAPI demographic data requiring at least the inclusion of categories for Bangladeshi, Hmong, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Thai, Fijian and Tongan people; currently, California collects disaggregated data for some “major” Asian groups (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Indian) but folds the remainder into a category labelled “Other Asian”, rendering these populations largely invisible in demographic analyses. Yet, these populations make up to as much as 15% of the national AAPI population.

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125 yrs later, Hong Yen Chang finally receives California law license denied to him because he was Chinese

hong-cheng-yang

Last year, I wrote about the story of Hong Yen Chang, a Chinese immigrant and law student who received his law degree from Columbia in 1868, and who moved to California to practice law in 1890, only to be barred from admission into the California State Bar because he was “Mongoloid”. Federal law at the time prohibited anyone of Asian descent from naturalizing as citizens.

Chang was one of the country’s first Chinese American Ivy Leaguers, and he had already made history after graduating from Columbia when he fought for his right to practice law in the state of New York; he challenged the initial decision to deny him entry into the New York State Bar, and won his case before the New York Supreme Court to become the first Chinese lawyer in the United States.

However, when Chang moved to California to serve the state’s growing Chinese immigrant population — many of whom endured systemic racial discrimination under the state’s growing spate of racist anti-Asian laws coupled with prohibitions against non-Whites from testifying in their own defense in court — Chang was denied permission to take California’s State Bar Exam. Chang challenged the California State Bar in California’s Supreme Court, but that Court — unlike in New York — ruled against Chang, citing the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act as evidence that Chang was ineligible for US citizenship on the basis of his race, and a state law that barred non-citizens from practicing law in the state of California. That decision later became known as one of California’s most historically racist Supreme Court decisions.

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UC Davis students push to license Chinese American attorney 124y after denial due to racism

hong-cheng-yang

Hong Yeng Chang’s case is obscure to laypeople, but well-known to students of the law.

Chang was among the many Chinese students who migrated to the United States in the 19th century to pursue an education. He obtained his undergraduate degree at Yale University and went on to receive his law degree from Columbia University in 1886 (just years after passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act and at a time when anti-Asian sentiment was high throughout the country), as one of the nation’s first Asian American Ivy Leaguers.

Upon graduation, Chang applied to take the New York state bar exam, and was initially refused due to his race. However, after receiving special permission from the state Legislature, he took and passed the bar exam being — according to the New York Times reports of the era — the first Chinese immigrant to be licensed to practice law in the United States.

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Paul Lo, America’s First Hmong American Judge, Will Be Sworn In Friday

Paul Lo will be the nation's first Hmong American judge. (Photo credit: UCLA Daily Bruin)
Paul Lo will be the nation’s first Hmong American judge. (Photo credit: UCLA Daily Bruin)

Earlier this year, California Governor Jerry Brown made history when he appointed UCLA Law alumnus Paul Lo to the Merced County Superior Court Bench. Lo, who will be sworn in this Friday, will be the nation’s first Hmong American judge.

Said Karin Wang of Asian Americans Advancing Justice back in Januaryto the UCLA Daily Bruin:

“It is both historic and inspirational to have the nation’s first Hmong American judge in California’s Central Valley, which is home to one of the nation’s largest Hmong populations,” Wang said.

Merced currently has the fifth highest Hmong American population in the United States, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

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Rep. Ted Lieu Loses Six Democratic Endorsements Over anti-Affirmative Action Stance | #SCA5

Representative Ted Lieu, who represents California's 28th Senate District. (Photo credit: Sacramento Bee.)
Representative Ted Lieu, who represents California’s 28th Senate District. (Photo credit: Sacramento Bee.)

Representative Ted Lieu may be rethinking his position on affirmative action today.

Lieu, a Democrat who has been representing the 28th Senate District in the California State Senate, famously voted in favour of SCA5 — a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have repealed Prop 209 for public education and restore affirmative action to the state —  in early January, only to later rescind his support for SCA5 in a joint letter signed by himself and two other Asian American politicians in the state (including disgraced representative and would-be gun runner Leland Yee). Lieu’s withdrawal of support for SCA5 came after his office was targeted by weeks of bitter objection from a subset of California Asian American voters, themselves misled by anti-affirmative action misinformation put forward by conservative PACs and ethnic media. Currently, Lieu is currently against 17 other candidates in a race for a Congressional seat vacated by retiring Congressman Henry Waxman, (D-Beverly Hills) and is considered one of the race’s front-runners.

In the joint letter withdrawing support for SCA5 issued in February, Lieu and his colleagues wrote:

As lifelong advocates for the Asian- American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children.

However, Proposition 209 has had a clear negative impact on California’s children: following passage of the law, admission rates for Black, Chicano and Native American applicants dropped precipitously with virtually no significant change in the overall rate of offers given to Asian American and White applicants.

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