In mid-March, Chinese for Affirmative Action was honored to stand with dozens of community and civil rights leaders in the State Capitol to announce ACA-5.
ACA-5 is proposed legislation authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber to restore equal opportunity programs like affirmative action in California’s public contracting, public employment, and public education systems. If passed, ACA5 will place on the November ballot a repeal of Proposition 209, which was a regressive measure that banned State race and gender conscious programs nearly 25 years ago.
Of course, since March, our entire country has been in crisis.
Schools have closed. Businesses have shuttered. Lives and livelihoods have been lost. And yet the damage done also underscores how critical legislation like ACA-5 is in order to directly address challenges faced by women and people of color.
For example, the coronavirus has disproportionately killed African American and Latinx people, fueled racism and hate incidents against Asian Americans, and destroyed small businesses owned by women and people of color. The reality is that race and gender matter, and if our collective health and economy are to recover, we need programs designed to meet the different needs of our different communities:
- Small businesses owned by women and people of color simply don’t get the same opportunities. We see this right now with an estimated 90 percent of women and minority-owned businesses being shut out of federal stimulus programs. Historically, in cities like Chicago or Atlanta with affirmative action, Asian American-owned businesses win more in public contracts than in San Francisco or Los Angeles where it is banned.
- In the realm of employment, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and others value and deserve first responders and health workers in their community with cultural and linguistic competency. Similarly, our children do better in school when teachers and educators understand their needs from direct experience. And we know representation in leadership ensures the marginalized are prioritized when decisions get made.
- Race conscious support and mentoring programs have also been critical to the success of Asian American college students — the majority of whom attend community colleges. At the same time, the admissions rates of Asian American students at UCLA and UC Berkeley have decreased since Prop 209 took effect, whereas they are going up at many colleges with affirmative action.
Like the rest of the country, California faces important choices on how we move forward. Now is the time to pass ACA-5 so that people of color and women are able to participate in the economic recovery, because that is the only way California recovers.
We ask that you show your support for ACA-5 by using this tool to contact your legislator, signing the ACA-5 petition, or adding your name and/or organization to this Asian American and Pacific Islander letter.