Calif. pro­test­ers sus­pi­cious of data use

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By SHI XI in Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia Congjiang Wang in Sacra­mento con­trib­uted to this story.

Hun­dreds of Cal­i­for­ni­ans gath­ered in front of the gov­er­nor’s man­sion on Wed­nes­day to protest Assem­bly Bill 1726, which would al­low the state gov­ern­ment to col­lect dis­ag­gre­gated health and ed­u­ca­tion data on Asian Pa­cific Is­lander groups.

The ma­jor­ity of the pro­test­ers were first-gen­er­a­tion Chi­nese Amer­i­cans, who ar­gue that the bill would di­vide the Asian com­mu­nity and pro­mote racial dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“Dis­ag­gre­ga­tion” goes be­yond the de­scrip­tion of Asian, and would al­low the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health, the Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia to go be­yond “Asian” when col­lect­ing de­mo­graphic data.

For in­stance, the groups would be put in more spe­cific cat­e­gories, such as Chi­nese, Ja­panese, Korean, Viet­namese, Malaysian, Hmong, Fi­jian, etc.

Some Chi­nese ar­gue the data dis­ag­gre­ga­tion could be used, for in­stance, to limit en­roll­ment of spe­cific groups at the Cal­i­for­nia’s uni­ver­si­ties.

Guo Wen­nan of the Sil­i­con Val­ley Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion is one of the ac­tivists who or­ga­nized the demon­stra­tion. Guo be­gan chal­leng­ing the bill in March and called or more Asian Amer­i­cans to par­tic­i­pate in the po­lit­i­cal process.

Ac­cord­ing to the US Cen­sus Bu­reau, only 47 per­cent of Asian Amer­i­cans voted in the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the low­est par­tic­i­pa­tion rate among all eth­nic groups.

“It’s not a one-man job,” Guo said. “We shouldn’t rely on any sin­gle in­di­vid­ual for our in­ter­ests. It should be a joint ef­fort.”

“I think the bill would hurt the Asian com­mu­nity tre­men­dously,” Guo said. “It re­in­forces the stereo­types, and it is fun­da­men­tally racist.”

The Sacra­mento Bee re­ported that the bill has many sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing Chi­nese-Amer­i­can groups from around the state, “but op­po­nents see a more ne­far­i­ous ef­fort to roll back Cal­i­for­nia’s af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion ban. The rhetoric has turned dark, with crit­ics of the bill warn­ing omi­nously of data col­lec­tion that pre­ceded the Chi­nese Ex­clu­sion Act and Ja­panese in­tern­ment.”

Guo said the bat­tle over the bill was cru­cial, and he sees it as an at­tempt to re­vive af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion in col­lege ad­mis­sions in Cal­i­for­nia.

Guo was re­fer­ring to the Sen­ate’s con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment No. 5 (SCA-5), which was shelved in 2014 due to a lack of con­sen­sus mostly along racial lines.

SCA-5 would have al­lowed schools to use race, sex, color, eth­nic­ity or na­tional ori­gin as cri­te­ria for ac­cept­ing stu­dents or hir­ing em­ploy­ees. The use of such cri­te­ria was banned by Propo­si­tion 209, which vot­ers passed in 1996.

State Assem­bly­man Rob Bonta in­tro­duced AB-1726 in Jan­uary and it passed al­most unan­i­mously in March. It is now be­ing re­viewed by the state Sen­ate. Bonta said the con­cern about the re­vival of SCA-5 was “mis­guided and un­for­tu­nate”. “The bill is dead,” he said. “AB 1726 has no ref­er­ence or any re­la­tion to it.”

An­nette Wong, di­rec­tor of Chi­nese for Af­fir­ma­tive Ac­tion, said it is im­por­tant for the bill to pass in or­der to help sub­groups within the Asian com­mu­nity more ef­fi­ciently.

The Sil­i­con Val­ley Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion re­cently cir­cu­lated a pe­ti­tion call­ing for the gov­er­nor to veto AB 1726.

If the bill passes the state Sen­ate, Gov­er­nor Jerry Brown would have it on his desk to ei­ther sign or veto in Oc­to­ber.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Hun­dreds of Cal­i­for­ni­ans protest in front of the gov­er­nor’s man­sion in Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia on Wed­nes­day.

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