Last week, Asian Counseling and Referral Service joined the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, 77 organizations, 180 community leaders, 105 students, and nearly 500 educators nationwide, in reaffirming our commitment to serve the needs of our very diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
We are deeply troubled by recent opposition expressed to the collection of detailed data on Asian Americans by opponents, comparing it to data collected by Nazi Germany to persecute Jews and single them out for genocide.
For decades, East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander organizations and leaders have called for detailed data collection to better serve AAPI populations. We have found that detailed and accurate data collections from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, other federal agencies, state and local agencies addressing health, education, and other issues–are critical to helping our communities in need.
As researchers, educators, advocacy organizations, and community leaders, we strive to better understand the challenges faced by our student populations, and to better serve and support their varied educational needs. We cannot do this without high quality data. For example, Cambodian, Laotian, Native Hawaiian, and Samoan Americans have among the lowest rates of graduation from community college. Mental health issues also vary across the Asian American and Pacific Islander population, with some groups, such as Chinese American women, showing higher rates of suicide than other Asian American groups. High quality, detailed data is essential to understanding student challenges in all communities, and is vital to securing public and private resources to help students in need.
Comparing the effort to collect data on Asian Americans to the tactics of Nazi Germany is grossly misleading and misrepresentative of the goals and desires of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Historically, Asian Americans, including Chinese Americans, have been at the forefront of calls for detailed data collection. The purpose of these data is not to single out a group for persecution or surveillance, but to better recognize and support all segments of our community, and to ensure that all students count in education.
As community organizations, educators, and leaders, we believe it is imperative to continue the push for high quality, detailed data that can serve the diverse needs of our Asian American and Pacific Islander students.