Initiative 1000 is unfair to Asian children and divides our community


Driven by political insiders, Asians here are facing a disturbing threat to their children’s future: the movement to deny Asian children educational opportunities and government employment. This threat is through Initiative 1000 (on your ballot as Referendum 88), which would implement quotas and caps by race for college admissions, public employment, and government contracting.

For now, in Washington, such discrimination is illegal under our Civil Rights Act. But government and corporate insiders want to repeal those rights through Initiative 1000 (I-1000). This represents the ultimate betrayal to our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who worked so hard and endured harsh racism just to make better lives for their children. We must honor those sacrifices by ensuring Asian children are not denied the dignity, the fairness, and the respect our elders earned for them. We must reject I-1000.

I-1000 legalizes anti-Asian bias through quotes and caps

The lawsuit against Harvard disclosed what Asian families knew: Colleges and universities discriminate against Asians. Under Harvard’s affirmative action policy, Asians are not invited unless their SAT scores are at least 300 points higher than other groups. Harvard then caps the number of Asians for admission. And even though Asian applicants score significantly higher than all other groups in every objective category, they have the lowest admission rate.

The same is happening through medical school affirmative action policies, where other groups are admitted up to 10 times the rate as Asians with the same MCAT and GPA scores.

If I-1000 passes, anti-Asian discrimination will be legalized here through Harvard-style quotas and caps, which the powerful insiders behind I-1000 concealed in hidden loopholes. Agencies will count students and employees by race, decide which races get favored status, set targets for those races, and make college admission and employment decisions in favor of those races. These are, by definition, quotas. They will be implemented at every level of government.

Bureaucrats will be empowered to decide whom to include and exclude from colleges, universities, and government employment based upon favored race status.

Asians know exactly what that means. We have often been the group excluded by those in power. I-1000 will legalize such discrimination by using an insider-filled government agency to enforce caps against us. It is unfair to deny our children educational and employment opportunities because they are Asian.

While we as parents have attained educations and jobs, our children have not and they will be the ones to feel the full impact of Asian discrimination if I-1000 passes. We must stand up and reject I-1000.

I-1000 divides us

I-1000 is divisive, pitting race against race. It is even splitting our own community: Asian insiders are attacking Asians who oppose I-1000, condemning them personally and marginalizing them as outsiders. This is what I-1000 does, just as a proposal. Imagine what will happen if it passes. We must reject I-1000.

We can be quiet no longer

Asians are disregarded as the quiet stepchild of the civil rights movement. We have always supported equal treatment for all, yet when we face discrimination, we are ignored. None of the so-called civil rights groups supporting I-1000 stood up for us in the face of racism in education, such as at Harvard. In fact, the ACLU even applauded that discrimination.

Those groups have dismissed us in the past, and now they expect us to support discrimination against our children. To this we must say no. In honor of those who came before us who sacrificed so much, and on behalf of our children who have done nothing wrong to warrant discrimination, we must stand our ground and fight this prejudice. We must take our stand at the ballot box because there, the anti-Asian Establishment cannot ignore us. With your ballot in hand, focus on our children’s future, their right to dignity, their right to fairness, and their fundamental right to respect. Reject racism. Reject I-1000.

Yvonne Kinoshita Ward is past president of the Asian Bar Association of Washington and past chair of the Washington Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs. She was twice named a Top Contributor to the Asian Community by the Northwest Asian Weekly and was awarded the Washington State Association for Justice Carl J. Maxey Award for promoting diversity in the legal profession.