Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

Asian American Groups Kick Off Week of Action Supporting Affirmative Action

LOS ANGELES, CA – Dozens of Asian American groups, student groups, and national civil rights organizations today launched a #DefendDiversity Week of Action to highlight the need and widespread support for race-conscious admissions policies, both within the Asian American community and across the country. The Week of Action leads up to the trial in the controversial lawsuit SFFA v. Harvard, which claims that Harvard's race-conscious admissions policy discriminates against Asian American students. The Week of Action also follows the Justice Department’s recent announcement that, in keeping with the Trump administration’s priorities, it will expand its scrutiny of race-conscious admissions policies at elite schools, such as Yale University.
“As a low-income, second-generation Chinese American who directly benefited from Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy, I support affirmative action,” said Sally Chen, a senior at Harvard who will be testifying at the trial starting October 15th.  “I am organizing for the #DefendDiversity Week of Action because it is impossible for any student at Harvard, or any other university, to attain the necessary education to become future leaders without race-conscious policies that make our campuses more diverse.”
Like women and other students of color, data overwhelmingly indicates that Asian American students benefit from affirmative action policies, and a majority of Asians Americans support the consideration of race in college admissions. Many Asian American students have unequal access to educational opportunities – due to discrimination, harassment, language barriers, or immigrant or refugee status – and affirmative action enables colleges to take these experiences into account when evaluating their applications. Diversity in higher education is also necessary for breaking down harmful stereotypes that Asian Americans face, and is a critical component of a 21st century education.
“Asian Americans students still need race-conscious admissions to access and benefit from higher education,” said Nicole Ochi, a supervising attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA who represents students that will be testifying at the Harvard trial. “We need to resist any narrative that co-opts Asian Americans’ historic and ongoing struggle with discrimination and distracts us from the true culprit that impedes our advancement:policies and practices that privilege the white and the wealthy.”
Ed Blum, the conservative strategist behind the lawsuit against Harvard University, and the Department of Justice under the Trump Administration, both of whom purport to be rooting out discrimination on behalf of Asian Americans, have consistently advocated for policies that harm Asian Americans.  Ed Blum is responsible for crippling the Voting Rights Act, disenfranchising Asian Americans and other communities of color, while the Trump Administration is responsible for separating Asian American families, destroying the future of Asian American DACA recipients, and just this week, proposing changes to immigration policy that would penalize low-income Asian Americans and other immigrants who access public benefits.
“There is an urgent need to defend race-conscious admissions policies from attack by conservative groups and the Trump Justice Department,” said Jane Sujen Bock, a board member for Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, one of the amici groups that is supporting Harvard’s policy.  “The Coalition for Diverse Harvard is proud to join the #DefendDiversity Week of Action because our 1,100 alumni and student members know that the diversity at Harvard made possible by race-conscious admissions greatly enriched our education and has continued to benefit us throughout our lives.”
During the #DefendDiversity Week of Action, hundreds of participants  will engage in a public education campaign where they will express the critical need for race-conscious admissions policies and the urgency of defending them in the face of a growing wave of challenges by conservative groups and the Justice Department under the Trump administration. Participating groups will be:
Currently, groups and organizations participating in the #DefendDiversity Week of Action include Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian American Legal Defense Fund, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Californians Together,  Chinese American Progressive Action,  Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Coalition for Diverse Harvard, Equal Justice Society, GAPIMNY, OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates, Services Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN), Southeast Action Resource Action Center, The Education Trust - West,, and many student groups at Harvard and other universities.
If you are a member of a group or organization would like to receive additional materials on how to participate this week, please sign up here.
Jessica Jinn, (213) 241-8817, [email protected]
About Advancing Justice - LA: 
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles is the nation's largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice-LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.
Monday, October 8, 2018


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