Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Group protests R.I. collection of data on AAPI communities

A NEW Rhode Island state law meant to help the Asian/American and Pacific Islander community is instead revealing a schism among the various ethnic groups that fit under the banner of AAPI.

A small group of Chinese/Americans are protesting a law that requires that data on public school students of Asian descent be separated by ethnicity has reignited debate in the AAPI community.

The All Students Count Act was signed into law last month after drawing the support of from AAPI community advocates.

Jianhao Chen, the protest’s organizer and a Chinese/American, compared the bill to “Nazi Germany’s 1935 Nuremberg Law that singled out Jews in the pretense of data collection, only to be conveniently used as a basis for genocide in the following decade.”

“This data will easily be manipulated to advance race-based policies,” he wrote in a letter to the governor.
The group's protestations are reflecting a basic misunderstanding of the law's intention and why it is needed.
Chanda Womack. founding executive director of the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE),  said, "Asian Americans as a whole have statistically been seen as overachievers, and the 'model minority.' The disaggregated data tell a different story for Southeast Asians. It is imperative to look beyond broad census labels to understand how sub-populations are faring."
RELATED: California signs bill for disaggregated data collection

Disaggregated data from the American Community Survey reveal that Cambodian and Hmong communities faces far higher poverty levels and lower rates of education attainment when compared to the Asian population and the total population in Rhode Island.
Critics ask, why apply the law to just Asians? Well, because it is the AAPI community that is saddled with the model minority myth. That stereotype is often applied to all Asians, and doesn't take into account the geographical, cultural and linguistic differences and needs of separate groups.
Asian/Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians make up roughly 3.8 percent of Rhode Island’s total population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau
An open letter from the AAPI Educators condemned the comparisons to Nazi Germany as "incendiary" and "misleading."

“This assertion is outrageous and ignores the history and purpose of collecting detailed data on Asian Americans,” the letter reads. 
“Data disaggregation is a mainstay of U.S. Census data collections, and is critical for AAPI communities pushing for greater ballot language assistance, bilingual education, mental health assistance for students, and culturally competent care by county hospitals,” the letter adds.