WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 16, 2016) — We stand for racial justice.
As AB 1726, the AHEAD Act (D-Bonta), reaches the Senate Floor, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) continue to stand proudly with our community-driven movement to advance the civil rights of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) by calling for data disaggregation of our diverse community.
We stand united with over 120 health, legal, education, and civil rights organizations in support of a bill seeking to identify differences between groups and use this information to develop solutions that will save lives.
Together we recognize the reality that race plays a major role in determining the health and education outcomes of AANHPIs. Because of efforts to collect disaggregated data, we know health disparities exist. We know Korean men are twice as likely to die of cancer as Asian Indian men, Filipino men are more than twice as likely to die from kidney disease as Korean men, and the rate of uterine cancer among Samoan women more than doubled between 1990 and 2008, but remained stable among Native Hawaiian women over the same time period.
Because of disaggregated data that is already collected, we know that education disparities exist. We know from a recent Campaign for College Opportunity report that the rate of undergraduate degree attainment within the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities varied by 60% percentage points, with Indian Americans at 70 percent at one side of the spectrum and Laotian Americans at 10% at the other side.
Together we call for public agencies to collect disaggregated data on the AANHPI community instead of lumping us all under one “Asian” or “Pacific Islander” category that renders these realities invisible, which disempowers and blinds policy makers, educators, and health professionals by denying them the data they need to make informed decisions.
We stand for racial justice.
Opponents of the bill attack us for calling out this reality. They claim that by focusing on disaggregated data we divide, rather than unite, the community. In reality, disaggregated data will reveal the truth about how many of our communities have endured the common experience of being systemically and institutionally ignored for decades. Opponents believe that uncovering these hidden disparities will divert resources to these vulnerable groups, hurting their own families’ chances for success. They are frightened into embracing a zero-sum mentality that obstructs the true spirit of civil rights and equity for all.
The opponents of AB 1726 have manipulated and co-opted a racial justice narrative that calls for a race blind society to empower us. Collecting data about race is not new. Our movement is part of a long civil rights legacy in this nation of using data on racial disparities to protect all communities from discrimination and guarantee equal treatment under the law. Eliminating the collection of data based on race would deeply undermine and destroy the very foundation of our nation’s civil rights protections.
We stand for racial justice.
These opponents claim to represent the AANHPI community, but they actually represent only a small fraction of the almost 6 million diverse AANHPIs who live in California. The 120 organizations that strongly support the bill include those from the Chinese American community, who understand and stand by the bill’s intent to use data to reveal and address unmet health needs. In fact, the overwhelming majority of AANHPI organizations and leaders in the state of California stand together for this bill to fight for racial justice and equity for our communities.
We stand for equity.
As advocates on behalf of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Southeast Asian American communities, we support this civil rights movement to further protections, not attack them. We fight for racial justice that is not race blind or race ignorant. We fight for racial justice so our communities collectively embrace our commonalities while acknowledging our different experiences and needs, and so everyone has equal access and equal opportunities.
We honor this civil rights movement by calling on California to uphold our duty and responsibility to stand on the right side of history in support of AB 1726.