This article was originally published in Mochi Magazine.
Why Asian American Activists are Fighting for Data Disaggregation, September 19, 2022
“Why would you want to divide Asian Americans?”
“Why do you want to put us in an ethnic registry?”
Natalie Truong remembers over 300 raised hands from an opposition group asking these questions. They “flooded the public testimony [of a state committee] for hours,” she says, “about why [the state committee members, representatives, and senators] shouldn’t pass the bill.” The bill in question proposed to disaggregate, i.e. split, racial data on Asian Americans into ethnic data, with the intention that this would allow different ethnic groups to receive the necessary resources for their specific needs. And although there was “beautiful, cross-subgroup, cross-ethnic support for the bill” — from Southeast Asian American, South Asian, Chinese, and Korean coalitions — the opposition group was also Asian, and they protested that this bill would infringe on our privacy and personal rights, divide Asian Americans in spirit, and take away our children’s existing opportunities.
Truong has dedicated her career to battling these misconceptions and fighting for data disaggregation policies as the Education Policy Manager at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center. “This isn’t a zero sum game. We don’t want other Asian American subgroups to have their resources taken away or not have what they deserve,” she says. “All children deserve to be successful. It’s more about uplifting those who haven’t had as much voice in this conversation.”
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