FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 6, 2014
In January of this year, the California Senate passed SCA 5, a Senate Constitutional Amendment introduced by Senator Ed Hernandez that seeks to repeal Proposition 209 as it applies to public higher education. Proposition 209 is a ballot initiative passed in 1996, which has been applied to bar the consideration of race or sex in education, employment, and government contracting. The initiative passed despite the vote of the majority of African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans against it.
We at Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus support the full repeal of Prop 209. Affirmative action, diversity and anti-discrimination programs in higher education and other sectors of public life have been critical to securing equal opportunities for racial minorities and women, and have been crucial to building a more just and equitable society. Prop 209’s ban on such constitutionally permissible programs has been a huge step backwards for all Californians.
Without such programs, we have seen the resegregation of public higher education in California. Prop 209 has relegated many African American, Latino, Pacific Islander and other Asian American students, including Filipinos and Southeast Asians, to campuses with fewer resources and opportunities or out of higher education entirely. Minority students, including many East Asians who are left on the flagship campuses have faced increased bigotry and hostility of all kinds.
We still need affirmative action. The reality is that race continues to unfairly limit educational opportunities for all students of color. Our K-12 schools are more separate and unequal today than they were 40 years ago. Cold numerical indicators like grade point averages and standardized test scores capture and magnify those inequalities and cannot be fairly evaluated without considering the real-life impact of race and racism. Nor are standardized test scores accurate predictors of academic success. Our full life experience, including race, is also part of what we bring to the table.
The Supreme Court has ruled that race-conscious admissions programs that undertake a flexible, individualized review of applicants where race is just one of many factors is consistent with the 14th Amendment. Race-conscious programs should not be conflated with racial quotas or other unacceptable, unlawful forms of discrimination.
The United States Supreme Court is currently considering a case called Schuette v. BAMN, which has challenged the constitutionality of a Prop 209 copycat proposition in Michigan. Advancing Justice - ALC is co-counsel to one of the plaintiff groups in the case. The Court’s ruling is expected by the end of this term and may affect the validity of Prop 209 here in California. As such, any action to impact affirmative action in California should be measured in light of the impending decision.
No matter what the Court’s ruling is, we are committed to supporting affirmative action. We strongly support the spirit of SCA 5 and its stated goal of repealing Prop 209 in the context of education. In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to working with other civil rights groups to restore affirmative action in California. We also support efforts like those of our affiliate Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, which is working with legislators and advocates to address the broader issue of expanding educational opportunities for all Californians.
If I put a gun to someone’s head, say, a 30-year-old healthy male, pull the trigger, and kill him, assuming an average life expectancy of, say, 84, you can argue that possibly 54 years of life [were] stolen from that person in a direct act of violence.
However, if a person is born into poverty in the midst of an abundant society where it is statistically proven that it would hurt no one to facilitate meeting the basic needs of that person and yet they die at the age of 30 due to heart disease, which has been found to statistically relate to those who endure the stress and effects of low socioeconomic status, is that death, the removal of those 54 years once again, an act of violence?
And the answer is ‘Yes, it is.’
You see, our legal system has conditioned us to think that violence is a direct behavioral act. The truth is that violence is a process, not an act, and it can take many forms.
You cannot separate any outcome from the system by which it is oriented.
It is an apt metaphor, woman of color as bridge. Always liminal. Permanently negotiating. A migrant between gender and race. That is what makes us different: we can never pick a side.
And here is another thing about bridges: they have to be strong. According to a recent report by the Women of Color Policy Network at NYU, Black and Latina women are disproportionately more likely to be poor, have trouble paying the bills, be worried about putting food on the table, and express concern about the accessibility of health insurance than their white counterparts, but they are among the least likely to benefit from the billions of dollars in stimulus funding being doled out to improve economic well-being in this country. However, I think it would be a mistake to view the women of color who face these challenges as passive “victims” of intersecting layers of oppression.
When I sit in church basements in the South Bronx, strategizing with a local community coalition, the vast majority of people I am talking with are women - women of color. The same is true of the immigrant rights organization I work with in Brooklyn. You cannot begin to comprehend the fight that is in the mothers I represent, who do daily battle with the health and education systems on behalf of their children. The foot soldiers of our modern-day civil rights movement are women of color, just as they were a generation ago, when women outnumbered men two-to-one in the local organizations feeding the Mississippi freedom struggle.
In a way, it is quite stunning that the group most disadvantaged within the socio-economic framework of American society would, historically and currently, be its most vital force for democracy.
So Chicano frats don’t need to exist? South Asian ones? Native American ones? Anti-blackness doesn’t mean other kinds of racism don’t exist. Yeah, it’s to a different degree, but you can address both.
I’m not against organizations for these marginalized groups of people, but I think that collecting under the concept of a /fraternity/ is, *as a rule of thumb but not always*, a recipe for magnification of patriarchal norms.
I also admit that I can’t really judge other groups and their intersections with patriarchy. I would say for predominantly East Asian frats, it’s *generally* not a good idea.
Also, GBTQIIA MEN GO INTO FRATERNITIES THAT ARE NOT LGBTQIIA FRATERNITIES
that post was *as a rule of thumb*, and does miss a lot of nuance, so i apologize for that. obviously i can’t judge whether or not GBTQIIA men should join a fraternity if they choose to.
in the interest of access and freedom for any marginalized people, yes, i would retract the statement that “[fraternities] don’t need to exist”.
at the same time, i still hold to the belief that (predominantly cis hetero) fraternities are an inherently oppressive institution, like many other mainstream institutions (schools, capitalism, criminal justice, etc). of course these institutions *can* exist, (i’m not here to trample on people’s rights) but /should/ they without radical transformation? ultimately, i don’t think so.
as a rule of thumb:
i support Black fraternities and sororities, because they have historical roots in resistance to oppression
i am tolerant of sororities (less so of white sororities that have token women of color) and LGBTQ fraternities or sororities. because, however flawed and often exclusive the typical modern sorority is, there’s still importance in having women’s and LGBTQ spaces in a cis/heteropatriarchal society.
i think any non-Black fraternity, (such as Asian American fraternities), does not need to exist. there’s literally nothing good that comes from a grouping of cis hetero men around a common male/men-identity, especially when the goal of the group is not one of an explicit vision for gender and sexuality justice.
realizing from the things i’m learning that almost every oppression stems from or is perpetuated by anti-black misogynist racism, while almost every right that other oppressed groups (non-black people of color, women, etc) have in this country are the direct or indirect result of the intense activism and tactics born out of the Black anti-racist work both Abolitionist and Civil Rights Movement. what a twisted world we live in.