Chinese-Americans Clash with Other Minorities over Affirmative Action

A proposed measure, Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 (SCA 5), to reinstate affirmative action in California's public university admissions process, has instigated a clash between Chinese-Americans and other minority groups in California, David E. Early and Katy Murphy of the Contra Costa Times report.

Chinese Americans are opposed to the measure, the Times notes, which would overturn portions of Proposition 209, the 1996 ballot initiative that banned the use of race and gender preferences in state university admissions, employment, and contracting. On the other hand, Latinos, who are now the largest ethnic group in California, strongly support the reinstatement of affirmative action.

Significantly, the heart of the conflict lies in the numbers. In 2013, 78% of all Chinese-American were admitted to a UC school, while only 55% of Latino applicants landed a spot on a UC campus. The disproportion in the percentages reveals that affirmative action would likely decrease the number of Chinese Americans admitted, and would most likely increase the percentage of Latino applicants.

Yet the conflict doesn’t end there. Not only are Latinos feeling they not getting a fair shake, but other Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent are also unhappy with their low representation at California state schools. Ranking behind Latinos, just 48 percent of Pacific Islanders were recently admitted to a California state colleges or university.

Meanwhile, California Democrats, the prime movers behind the recently-dropped SCA 5, may be alienating some Asian-Americans, who have historically voted overwhelmingly Democratic, and pushing them toward the GOP. The 80-20 Initiative, an Asian-American Political Action Committee website, denounces affirmative action in college admissions and urges California members to register as Republicans if for no other reason than "to scare the (Democratic) Party."

S.B. Woo, who co-founded the 80-20 PAC, is quoted by the Times: "I want the Democratic Party to know that if they keep on pushing SCA5, then lots of people will be voting on the Republican side."


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