Testimony for SB 5044

Power was out at my house. Knowing that SB 5044 could negatively impact Asian Americans in this state, I sat in my car, accessed the SB 5044 public hearing via my cell phone and waited for almost an hour for my chance to testify. Why? Because I wanted to testify in person so that my testimony would be used as part of testimony summary materials on the bill report. Yet, I did not get the chance to speak for my community.

There were other members from our community also waited for almost an hour, and did not get a chance to testify and make our voices heard. 

I contacted Senator Wellman’s office twice prior to the public hearing today, and made very clear that we signed up and were eager to testify.  Yet, we were ignored, and silenced.

Here is my prepared testimony:

Thank you, Chair Wellman and members of the committee. I am here today to respectfully request the consideration of clearly addressing racism against Asians in the bill as an amendment to help perfect SB 5044.

Although SB 5044 is a bill with good intentions, many Asian Americans are extremely concerned that Asians may be left out, or even unintentionally suffer negative consequences from the bill if we are not careful.

According to a 2018 Harvard Business Review article, Asian Americans are the least likely group in the US to be promoted to management; And a two year study found that Asian job applicants could almost double their chances of getting callbacks if they “whitened” their resumes. How many of you have heard above data?

And the most recently, Asian Americans have been hit the hardest by COVID 19. From New York to San Francisco, Asian Americans have been facing a very high fatality rate. Yet, have you seen those made headline news? An October 1st, 2020 NPR article titled ‘Overlooked’: Asian American Jobless Rate Surges But Few Take Notice. Why?

Under the term “model minority”, is an entire racial group that has been ignored by mainstream America. This is the systemic racism that yet to be recognized by many.

Last year, California lawmakers passed a bill that mandated California-headquartered public companies to have at least one director on their boards who is from an underrepresented community. The bill originally left out Asians. Only after multiple Asian organizations’ strong advocacy, Asians were added to the final bill.

And last November, North Thurston County School District excluded Asian students from their Students of Color category in their Student Growth Report.

In King 5’s recent documentary named “Facing Race”, they listed % of White, Black, Hispanic, Native American lawmakers. Yet, Asian lawmakers were lumped into not identified!!! There are only 147 lawmakers in Olympia, how hard is it to identify number of Asian lawmakers?

All those instances are not isolated cases. No one would even be thinking of omitting Black or Brown from underrepresented, minority, or people of color groups. Yet, it is all too often and convenient to ignore Asians – because no one cares. This is systemic racism.

The children of Asian families in Washington face many challenges in schools today. America has a long and dark history of discrimination against Asians. From the Chinese Exclusion Act to the internment of Japanese Americans to the current rise in violence and backlash against Asians, we are always the forgotten and silent minority group.

Because SB 5044’s stated goal is to fight against systemic racism, to avoid Asians being conveniently omitted from conversations, it is a logical step to clearly list Asians in SB 5044 as a group that has suffered long time systemic racism and effort should be made to correct racism towards Asians

Thank you!

What happened today was a perfect example that if SB 5044 is passed the way it is, Asians will very likely be negatively impacted via intentional or unintentionally omission from discussions.

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