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The readings and discussion for this module is setting the stage for two other upcoming modules: one on affirmative action, and another on interracial conflict/coalition, so keep that in mind as you are reading the articles, since some of the ideas will be revisited.

At this point, you should be familiar with the legislative goal of CA AB-1726(also read the fact sheet for more information), which was signed into law in 2016 after some debate. While the law seems to be fairly mundane, it tapped into some fault lines that exist within the Asian American community, as well as reflecting broader political debates along which those lines have been formed. First, read the overview of the debate by Chris Fuchs. As you are reading, pay attention to the tables and charts that are also presented. Then read the commentary by Jenn Fang upon the signing of the data disaggregation bill into law.

For your discussion: What are the arguments being made for and against the further disaggregation of Asian American communities when it comes to data collection? Who are its supporters and its opponents? Does having more information on individual communities constitute a form of discrimination that is ultimately harmful or beneficial to improve outcomes? Please be specific in your response.


legislative goal of CA AB-1726

As far as California state legislation can spark political debates and controversy, most people might not have heard about the politics around AB-1726 back when it was discussed in 2016 — better known as the Accounting for Health and Education in API Demographics (AHEAD) Act. Read the quick fact sheet as well. Excerpted below is the actual text of the bill (edited for brevity, although you are encouraged to read the full text itself). As you read through the excerpt, you should ask yourself a couple of questions:

1. What does the bill want to achieve?

2. Does anything about the bill strike you as controversial?

If this is your first time actually reading legal language, it may be a bit challenging. This is a very small excerpt, and again, I encourage you to read the entire legislative text if you have the chance:

“Existing law requires any state agency, board, or commission that […] collects demographic data as to the ancestry or ethnic origin of Californians to use separate collection categories […] for specified Asian groups and Pacific Islander groups, and requires a state agency, board, or commission to include data on specified collection categories and tabulations in every demographic report on ancestry or ethnic origins of California residents that it publishes or releases…

“This bill would require the updating of the reporting categories… The bill would require the State Department of Public Health to use the additional separate collection categories and other tabulations for specified Asian groups and Pacific Islander groups, and to take additional actions as specified above…

“… the state agencies described in subdivision (a) [Department of Industrial Relations, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the State Department of Public Health] in the course of collecting demographic data directly or by contract as to the ancestry or ethnic origin of California residents, shall collect and tabulate data for the following:

(1) Additional major Asian groups, including, but not limited to, Bangladeshi, Hmong, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, and Thai.

(2) Additional major Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander groups, including, but not limited to, Fijian and Tongan.”

If the main objective of the legislative text is to disaggregate (or, to “separate into smaller groups”) Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander groups into other ethnic components when it comes to data gathering by certain state agencies, what’s the problem?

And why would some Asian American groups be opposed to such legislation?

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