After careful deliberation, the National Governing Board of Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA) has voted unanimously to support the California Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 5 (ACA-5). By endorsing ACA-5, APAPA joins the University of California (UC) Board of Regents, and more than 250 endorsements including over 50 Asian American Pacific Islander elected officials, organizations, and leaders.
ACA-5 seeks to repeal California Proposition 209 (Prop 209), passed in 1996 to prohibit California from granting preferential treatment (or to discriminate against) any individual or group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education and public contracting.
ACA-5 faces strong opposition, especially from some Asian American groups that agonize over the possibility that the UC system may use “preferential considerations” instead of scholastic achievement as the main criteria for college admission. An internal analysis of the likely impact of ACA-5 found that UC admissions for Asians would only decline from 34% to 33%. APAPA’s Board decision is based on the following factors:
Public Employment: Overturning Prop 209 would create a more level playing field for ethnic and racial minorities. “Please never forget the past suffering and discrimination Asian/Chinese Americans suffered in public/private business, employment/research, promotion, and contract work,” an APAPA Board Member remarked passionately. “It is time to look at the total under representation of all areas for all minorities.”
Public Education: This is the area where some Americans, many ardent advocates of higher education, find most troublesome. They fear that a “preferential system” would hurt their children’s chances of being admitted to highly competitive universities. However, this assumption is not entirely valid as UC has been admitting the top 9% of graduates from all California high schools and is changing its admission policy to include more than just scholastic achievement. We believe that under-represented minorities should be allowed to excel in higher education.
Public Contracts: Applying affirmative action to award public contracts will benefit all minorities including Asian Americans many of whom are small business owners.
Our Main Consideration: In a Caucasian-dominated society, affirmative action is the most effective means of leveling the playing field for all minorities. We, as Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, must remember the civil rights movement in the late ’50s and the early ’60s. It was the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 that established the basic structure of today’s immigration law, which has enabled Asian and Pacific Islander Americans to come to this great country and become US Citizens.
There is a Chinese saying “飲水思源” which means “when you drink water, think of its source”. Now is a good time to join forces to support affirmative action and our fellow citizens who are under-represented.