Diverse California: Chinese Want to Keep Prop 209’s Ban on Affirmative Action

In 1996, Californians voted with a 54 percent majority to prohibit racial preferences via Proposition 209. Race hucksters have been squawking ever since, and certain institutions, particularly the University of California, have come up with a string of squirrelly work-arounds, such as “holistic” admissions.

The latest liberal revolt against achievement is SCA5, a bill passed in the California Senate along party lines that would overturn Prop 209 and return the state to affirmative action in college admissions. If passed by the Assembly, then the proposal would become an initiative to be decided by the voters possibly in November.

What’s interesting is that Chinese Californians are beginning to understand how much they have benefited from Prop 209, under which their studious young folks are no longer bumped out of contention for top college slots by unqualified (but diverse!) Hispanics and blacks. As a result, a “groundswell of Asian American opposition” is forming up against the legislation to reinstate affirmative action (according to uber-lib Daily Kos).

It’s odd how Chinese have been so snoozy about affirmative action, commonly supporting it in polling, when their success in America has been due to hard work and academic achievement, not race set-asides. According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau of Labor Statistics, 51.8% of all Chinese Americans have at least a bachelor’s degree, considerably higher than American population as a whole (28.2%).

Diversity mongers often don’t know what to do with scholarly, successful Asians. In 2005, UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau warned of a “diversity crisis” at the school, blaming Prop 209. This when, as of 2004, the number of Asian undergraduates was 9,390, versus 6,980 whites (a stat from my LTE printed in response).

Faced with a threat to merit-based college admissions, the often apolitical Chinese are organizing against SCA5.

Asians rally against SCA 5, call it revival of Affirmative Action, Pasadena Star News, March 8, 2014

Asians in the San Gabriel Valley and beyond joined forces Friday to rally against a proposed Senate constitutional amendment that they said would punish their children for working hard to achieve the American Dream.

Olivia Liao, president of the Joint Chinese University Alumni Association, said Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 5 is racist because it allows public education institutions to give preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

“(Legislators) feel like the Chinese-American community isn’t paying attention to politics,” Liao said. “We are concerned citizens. We need to stand up when things are not right; we need to be heard. We shouldn’t have any (exceptions) related to race. After all, America is a free country.”

State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, is sponsoring SCA 5, an amendment that would repeal portions of Proposition 209, which prohibited discrimination against people based on their unchangeable identities. If passed, the amendment would allow public education institutions to give preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

About 65 people — including 11 current and elected officials from San Gabriel, Monterey Park, San Marino, Claremont and Walnut — agreed that affirmative action ended with the November 1996 passage of Prop. 209. Bringing the program back, they said, would lower the ranking of the UCs and Cal States.

Hernandez, however, said a lot of misinformation is being circulated about SCA 5. He said the rhetoric being used against his proposed amendment is scare tactics.

Both sides said supporting their stance means abiding by the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

“Every student that gets accepted either to the community colleges, Cal States or the UCs will only be admitted by the merits of them as a quality student, whether it be SAT (score), extracurriculars, grades — all of this will be taken into account,” Hernandez said.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that implementing racial quotas is unconstitutional, he said. SCA 5 is not Affirmative Action. He said it is equal opportunity, meaning student recruitment groups would be asked to consider race, gender and ethnicity as an additional point.

Yet Marina Tse, a former deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, said SCA 5 would create racial division.

“This kind of program needs to be established at the high school level, not at the university level,” she said. “It has the possibility of encouraging administrators and officials to discriminate based on skin color. It has a negative impact on high-performing students and Chinese students. We need to put merit and academic performance as a priority.”

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena; Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park; the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association; the Southern California Council of Chinese Schools; and the Taiwan Benevolent Association all oppose SCA 5.

By Friday evening, about 96,500 people signed a Change.org petition asking the California State Assembly to vote no on SCA 5.

Among the amendment’s supporters are the American Association of University Women, American Civil Liberties Union, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center and California Teachers Association.

From 1995 to 1998 — using pre- and post-Prop. 209 findings — the number of blacks, Latinos and Native Americans in the University of California all declined, according to the most recent online data from the UC Office of the President. Yet the number of Asians rose by 12 percent in the same time period.

The Asian groups at the press conference Friday said their community performed well in school and standardized tests, so these students deserve to be placed in California’s top universities.

Not all Asians do well in academics. Generally speaking, Southeast Asian, Pacific Islanders and Filipinos do not do as well as their Indian, Korean and Chinese counterparts.

Hernandez said SCA 5 gives students of all backgrounds a chance to attend California’s best universities.

“What makes a society and a country better is its diversity and how we interact,” Hernandez said. “Look at the examples of how we purposely try to diversify. Look at Covered California. It would be discriminatory if we did not try to create communities of interest.”