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The Massachusetts legislature may soon consider H3361, the so-called Asian Disaggregation Bill. This bill would require all state agencies, quasi state agencies and entities created by state statute to begin collecting specific ethnic data from Asian Americans. Currently, people are asked on many forms, if they are White, Black, Hispanic or Asian. No one is asked whether they are from Italy, Russia, Senegal, Kenya or Peru. If this bill were to pass, Asian Americans, and only Asian Americans would be asked to declare whether they are from China, India, Vietnam, or Korean.
Asian Americans in Westford are overwhelmingly opposed to this bill. We view it as unnecessary and discriminatory. The value of America is its promise of opportunity. Asian Americans came to this country in response to that promise, and this country has delivered. Supporters of the bill say that it will allow the government to provide better services to Asian Americans, particularly in the area of health care. That data is currently available through other sources.
As an Asian American, I subscribe to the vision defined by Martin Luther King Jr. when he dreamed of a day, when all people would be judged “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” This bill rejects that dream.
H3361 will stigmatize and alienate Asian Americans. How long must we be expected to report our ethnic data? Will my grandchildren be required to continually report themselves as “Chinese American” even though they were born and raised in the US and are lawful citizens? I ask that this bill be rejected. All I have ever wanted was an equal chance to succeed. I see this bill as a threat to that chance in the future. Reject the House Bill H3361. –Liewei Bao, Westford
Editor’s note: Bao later added the following: Another concern is the privacy issue because the proposed race-based data collection is tied to each individual, while the census data is aggregated and under privacy law protection.