This year, SB 5264, the Chinese American History Month bill, passed the state Senate 48 to 0 and made it as far as the House floor calendar. An all-member floor vote would designate January as Chinese American History Month, just as the state legislature did in 2019 – designating October as Filipino American Month. However, Speaker Laurie Jinkins’ decision to kill the bill effectively expelled Chinese American History Month from state law, just as 137 years ago, hundreds of Chinese were forcibly expelled from Speaker Jinkin’s town,Tacoma. An open letter was sent to House Democrats, urging them to consider denouncing Speaker Jinkins’ anti-Chinese claims and her action to kill SB 5264. The letter also called for House Democrats to have a serious internal caucus discussion on this matter, and consider such racially exclusionary positions, and biases, intentional or not, against Chinese Americans.
Dear House Democrat Legislators,
This year, SB 5264, the Chinese American History Month bill, passed the Senate 48 to 0, and the House State Government and Tribal Relations committee unanimously. The Democrat-controlled House had the opportunity to do the right thing and pass this long-overdue bill. However, under Speaker Jinkins’ leadership, the House blocked this bill from getting a floor vote, effectively killing Chinese American History Month. The Chinese American community is deeply offended by this outcome. Many people of Chinese descent are asking why?
The expulsion and systematic murder of Chinese from many Washington cities, Tacoma among them, is a dark part of our history. Tacoma built a reconciliation park to begin to bring closure to this terrible period. The only way we can keep things like this from happening again is to teach and learn from them. Anti-Chinese sentiment and attacks in the last year show how current the need is to begin to address this major public policy issue.
It is deeply concerning that the opportunity to begin to address this historic racial injustice was not important enough to get a very brief floor vote, but the Pickleball bill was passed at the end of the session. Jinkins defended her decision to pass the Pickleball bill because there was no “question” about the bill. The reality is that, with only 260K people playing pickleball in all three West Coast states combined, most people, except the privileged few, are not aware of this sport.Think of how the relatives of those killed and forcibly removed from their homes feel about this newest injustice? Some of the most terrible and unspeakable things that happened to any racial group in the history of Washington State and on the West Coast happened to the Chinese.
But here is what your leadership team had to say.
On April 12th, this The Spokesman-Review article ( https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2022/apr/12/when-could-there-be-a-chinese-history-month-repeat/ ) revealed the reason behind the decision to block SB 5264. According to the article, House Speaker Laurie Jinkins claimed “the (Chinese American) history month bill (SB 5264) didn’t get a vote because majority Democrats had questions about assigning months to “sub-ethnic” groups. ” She also claimed, “it’s our caucus that makes the decisions about bills that they feel comfortable voting on.
Since Speaker Jinkins claimed this to be a caucus decision, we want to remind all members of the House Democrats that just 3 years ago, in 2019, all House Democrats, Laurie Jinkins included, voted to pass SB 5864 and designate October as Filipino American History Month. Based on voting records, there are 44 current House Democrats who voted to establish Filipino American History Month.
If House Democrats had no “questions” about passing SB 5864 and designating a month for the Filipino “sub-ethnic” group, why do they now have “questions” about the same practice they ran in 2019? And to put things in further context, Chinese Americans are the largest Asian ethnic group in Washington. I want to challenge everyone to name another minority group that has had such a profound impact on Washington State’s development. Why do House Democrats have a double standard here? Racism against Chinese Americans is a long and deep chapter in our history, and sadly, we feel it is happening once again.
I want to point out several other anti-Chinese comments by Speaker Jinkins:
1) Jinkins claimed that under the name of “equity”, you are unwilling to designate a month for Chinese Americans. Let me remind you that Washington State has January 13, as Korean American Day; February 19, as Japanese American Remembrance Day; and October as Filipino American History Month. Notice which Asian ethnic group is missing? Yes, the Chinese Americans.
2) Jinkins claimed that SB 5264 lacked broad support. Let me point out that among the similar bills, SB 5264 was the only one that CAPAA (state’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs) signed on to testify in support. Commissioner Kendall Kosai of CAPAA gave a powerful speech in support of Chinese American History Month. SB 5264 has the support of many of the state’s largest school districts and the Jewish community. Both “The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle” and “the JCRC of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle” support this bill. I would challenge Speaker Jinkins to show me this type of broad support for other similar bills.
3) Jinkins claimed that to get this bill passed, the Chinese American community needs to get approval from all other racial and ethnic groups in the state in advance. When the state legislature passed the Korean American Day; Filipino American History Month, they did not consult with the Chinese American community. The WA legislature has never had such a high bar for passing a bill. Why is Speaker Jinkins setting this unreasonable bar ONLY for Chinese American History Month?The Democrat-controlled House keeps changing the rules on Chinese American History Month, making it a never-ending task for Chinese Americans. And clearly, House Democrats are only doing this to Chinese Americans.
We believe that even though Speaker Jinkins claimed this to be a caucus decision, many of you may not share these same anti-Chinese values. I am hopeful that you will consider denouncing Speaker Jinkins’ anti-Chinese claims and her action to kill SB 5264. I also hope you will have a serious internal caucus discussion on this matter, and consider such racially exclusionary positions, and biases, intentional or not, against Chinese Americans.
WA Asians For Equality