Photo by Claire Anderson

Wealth & Poverty Review Asian-Americans for Equal Opportunity

A thriving minority group breaks with the progressive consensus on race. Originally published at City Journal

Asian-Americans in Washington State are beginning to rebel against progressive orthodoxy on “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Earlier this year, Democratic lawmakers passed a law repealing the ban on affirmative action that Washington voters approved in 1998. Initiative 1000 legalizes race-based discrimination in college admissions and public-sector employment, which, advocates argue, will lead to greater opportunity for minorities. In practice, though, the law will harm Asian-Americans by reducing their admissions to the University of Washington system, unfairly punishing their academic success. According to court filings, when a similar system was enacted at Harvard—which included “personality scores”—it created an “Asian-American penalty” that effectively halved Asian-American admissions compared to academics-only models.

During the legislative session for I-1000, more than 300 Asian-Americans showed up in Olympia at 5 a.m. to attend the committee hearing and voice their opposition. Democrats, nevertheless, passed the bill on a party-line vote, with one state senator dismissing the activists, telling them that they could always collect “another 200,000 signatures” to run another ballot measure to repeal the law. Kan Qiu, who leads Washington Asians for Equality, viewed this as an insult—and motivation to show progressive legislators that they couldn’t take Asian-Americans for granted. Within months, Qiu and a team of volunteers, most with limited political experience, filed paperwork, launched an organization, and collected 213,268 signatures to qualify for the ballot, shocking the state’s political elite.

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Christopher Rufo

Former Director, Center on Wealth & Poverty
Christopher Rufo is former director of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty. He has directed four documentaries for PBS, Netflix, and international television, including his latest film, America Lost, that tells the story of three "forgotten American cities.” Christopher is currently a contributing editor of City Journal, where he covers poverty, homelessness, addiction, crime, and other afflictions. Christopher is a magna cum laude graduate of Georgetown University, Claremont Institute Lincoln Fellow, and has appeared on NPR, CNN, ABC, CBS, HLN, and FOX News.