What is the proposed plan?

The proposed plan is to use the presidential election of year 2000 to gain equal opportunity for Asian Americans. The fact is that Asian Americans have only one-third of the opportunity enjoyed by other Americans to rise to management levels in the academic and corporate world where millions of us work (see following page). In addition, subtler discrimination works against us in almost every aspect of our lives. This impacts our children’s access to top universities, our community leaders’ access to policy-level government service, and our business people’s access to small business loans, …, etc.

The time has come for Asian Americans to practice ‘realpolitik’ — the kind of pragmatic politics practiced by other immigrant groups in their paths to equality. We must reward the political leaders and parties that fight for our equal opportunity. We must censure those who don’t – through the ballot boxes as our framers empowered us to do.

We are nine million in number and strategically located in CA and NY – states with the largest electoral college votes in the presidential election. Hence we have the ability to reward and censure political parties effectively during a presidential election by adopting the right plan of action. That plan is for us to (1) publicly inform the two parties that we are dissatisfied with their services, (2) give the two parties between now and the presidential election of 2000 to compete to redeem themselves, (3) empower a small group of our community leaders to endorse, after the national conventions of both parties in 2008, one political party based strictly on how hard it has fought for our equal opportunity between now and then (See Endorsement Committee Structure for details), (4) form a Pan-Asian coalition to vote and contribute money to the presidential nominee of the endorsed party, regardless of our personal choices and party affiliations, and (5) pore all our organizational energy into California (12% Asian Americans), New York (5%), and New Jersey (5%), where Asian Americans are most populous, and whose summed electoral college votes are about half of what is needed to be elected President. The goal is to achieve a margin of 80/20 in favor of the presidential candidate of the endorsed party.

With such a margin, we have the ability to make or break the presidential nominee of either party. Then and only then will the two political parties look out for our rightful interests even when it is sometimes politically inconvenient.

The above strategy is aggressive and lawful. Indeed it is in the best tradition of democracy — citizens exercising our rights to assemble and using our power of the ballot box to work for our rightful interests. For those reasons, the two parties will likely respond positively, as soon as they get wind of this plan. However, we should not be made complacent by the initial flurry of positive gestures from the two parties. True equal opportunity will come ONLY after we have demonstrated our political maturity to vote 80/20 for one or other party.

Don’t we have equal opportunity already?

No. But you be the judge. (1) Academic administrators are predominantly drawn from faculty and professionals in universities. The ratio of the number of administrative personnel to the number of faculty plus professional could attest to whether Asian Americans have been discriminated. Nationwide, that ratio for blacks (non-Hispanic) is 0.21; for Native Americans is 0.20; for whites (non-Hispanic) is 0.16; for Hispanics is 0.15, using data provided by National Center for Education Statistics, US Department of Education. However, it is only 0.06 for Asian Americans. In other words, Asian-American faculty and professionals in institutions of higher education institutions have only one third the opportunity to rise into management as all other Americans. Bear in mind that the academic world is where Asian Americans contributed greatly — seven Nobel Laureates in 4 decades.

(2) Statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission show that in companies with over 38,000 employees, Asian Americans are the only minority group that is disproportionately under-represented in managerial positions.

(3) President Clinton promised in 1994 to make his Cabinet “look like America itself.” To his credit, he appointed women, blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans to cabinet and sub-cabinet positions. However, of the 250 such positions that are at or above the rank of assistant secretary, he appointed only one Asian American to be an assistant secretary. One Asian American out of every 250 Americans is not the demography of America: we are nine out of every 250 Americans. When Clinton and Gore campaigned for their second term, their emissaries worked the Asian American community hard. They urged us to contribute generously so that they could, after the election, help us achieve equal opportunity. The Asian Americans responded most generously, some too generously. Asian Americans voted slightly more Democratic for the first time in decades. However, when the election was over and the John Huang scandal ballooned, promises of inclusion and equal opportunity were forgotten. The same pattern of token appointment for Asian Americans continued – one assistant secretary and one acting assistant attorney general were appointed. And of the 845 serving federal judges, only 6 are Asian Americans.

If Asian Americans were grossly under-represented in only one of the above three categories of leadership positions, or if Asian Americans were under-represented in all 3 categories, but only slightly so, there might be more subtle explanations that account for such facts. However, when Asian Americans are grossly under-represented in all three categories and are the only minority group to bear that fate, we think the facts speak for themselves. We must stand up and be counted. We must have the courage to take corrective measures. Our plan of action will help us and our children gain equal opportunity. Indeed, our efforts will help make America “a more perfect Union.”

Are our numbers large enough for such a proposed strategy to work?

Absolutely. Ask any political strategist, “Which of the following two constituent groups would you court earnestly – one with 1 million people or one with 10 million?” The answer will be, “It depends. If the 10 million group tends to vote 50/50, say 52/48 at best, and the 1 million group has the internal cohesion to swing from one party to the other and deliver at 80/20, then any politician will court the 1 million constituent group more diligently.” Why? Because the larger group, voting 52/48, can only deliver a margin of 4%. Four percentage of 10 million provides a margin of 400,000 votes only, while the smaller group, only 1/10 in size, delivers a margin of 800,000 votes.

In California, New York and New Jersey, Asian Americans can easily affect the outcome of the presidential election in 2008, when we vote 80/20 for the candidate of the endorsed party. Mind you, the total electoral college votes of those three states is about half of what is needed to elect a president.

The John Huang scandal set us back badly. But we can turn a disaster into a golden opportunity. There is so much frustration and anger in our community against both parties these days that the time is ripe for us to forge the necessary unity in order to make the above strategy work.

Our numbers are small. We traditionally voted and contributed to each party about 50/50. These two factors condemned us to be the doormat of both political parties. However, when we will have forged unity and adopted the right strategy, overnight we’ll become the darling of both parties.

Have you ever wondered why the Jewish Americans, only 6 million in population, are politically so powerful? It is because they demonstrated that they have the internal cohesiveness to vote and togive financially in lopsided ratios for a presidential candidate of either party. The African Americans voted 90/10 for Democratic presidential candidates in recent decades. However, their one party affiliation makes them less effective.

For state and local elections, we may want to maintain our party loyalty so that we don’t waste  hard earned political capital, small as it may be. By the same token, we must give those Asian Americans who are currently holding offices or running for offices elbow-room during our execution of the plan. Don’t force them to make a choice between our strategy and their party loyalty. Their hands are tied. We must think strategically and long-term.

How might the two political parties respond?

As soon as both parties recognize that we have a good strategy and are gaining support at the grass-roots level, they will compete to win our favor. Specifically, they may do the following.

First, the Party in control of the White House and the executive branch, will immediately make a series of significant appointments of AsAms to policy-making positions. It’ll be the easiest thing to do because there will be no political repercussions — ordinary citizens don’t pay attention to sub-cabinet level appointments, and the Democratic senators, by that time, will not be foolish enough to oppose the nominations. Federal grants may flow like water to such AsAm civic organizations as OCA, JACL, AAJA (journalists), AALA (lawyers), IFSSS, LEAP, NAPABA (bar), Asian Pacific Legal Center …, etc. Federal “Small Business Loans” may become much more available to AAs.

Second, the Party that is in control of the Legislative branch will open congressional hearings on the strong statistical evidence showing the existence of glass ceilings for AsAms in the academic and corporate world. The committees may criticize the current or previous Administration for leaving AsAms out of Cabinet positions. The hearings may conclude with explicit instructions to relevant federal agencies (e.g. the Department of Education, EEOC, and Commerce Department) to report annually to Congress with evidence of progress in removing the glass ceilings of AsAms. Such actions will cause the universities and corporations to begin treating AsAms as first class citizens — drastically increasing opportunity for good jobs to millions of AsAms in the academic and corporate world. The Administration may decide to compete with Congress for turf in this vital arena. If so, great!

Third, both parties will begin to court well-established AsAm fund-raisers again. Presently, the two parties cannot put enough distance between themselves and their respective AsAm fund-raisers. The parties figure that those fund-raisers have no alternative but to come back to the fold when the parties need them in the coming election year. But once the parties are aware of our plan of action each party will fear that its AsAm fund-raisers may defect to the other party. Both parties shall demonstrate a quick change of heart. However, I don’t think our AsAm fund-raisers will be that easily pacified.

Fourth, both parties will seriously recruit AsAm candidates to run for various city, county and state offices in order to win our favor. The parties may also begin to treat AsAm candidates on equal footing with other minority candidates in term of protecting them from intra-party primaries.

Fifth, statesmen in both parties, regardless of their racial background, will secretly be pleased that Asian Americans have finally wised up and adopted the American way — using the political system to climb out from the underclass to the class of equality. Generations of earlier immigrants have done just that — the Irish, the Polish, and the Italians in the last two centuries; the Jewish, the blacks and the Hispanics in this century. Those statesmen will know that by helping us remove the glass ceilings, they help at the same time build “a more perfect Union.”

Of the 5 responses anticipated above, the second one will probably benefit the largest number of AsAms in the most significant manner.

What statistics should we keep in mind as we assess this proposal?

THE GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF THE ASIAN POPULATION The Asian population was heavily concentrated in the West. In the 2010 Census, of all respondents who reported Asian alone or in combination, 46 percent lived in the West (see Figure 3). An additional 22 percent lived in the South, 20 percent in the Northeast, and 12 percent in the Midwest. This pattern was similar for the Asian alone population.

(Click to enlarge)

2010 Census (https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-11.pdf)

What is the most important? Money, individual votes, or electoral college votes?

The purpose of raising money is to get votes. The purpose of casting votes is to decide who gets enough electoral college votes to be the next president. If Asian Americans at this time already has enough assets — emotion, strategic locations in CA, NY and NJ, and leadership — to impact upon about half of the electoral votes needed to elect a president, we have “THE pressure point” right under our thumbs.

Unite and seize the opportunity for the sake of our children and ourselves. Be proud to have also helped make America “a more perfect Union.”

What shall I do if I suspect discrimination against me based on my national origin or race?

If you suspect that, your first step should be to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You can file a complaint by contacting your local EEOC office in person, by phone, or by mail.  Such a list can be found at: http://www.eeoc.gov/field/index.cfm. You may call toll free at: 800-669-4000 for more information if a field office is not close to where you live.  You may also contact the Discrimination Consultant, Mr. Chungsoo J. Lee, at chunglee@eeo21.com or call (215) 947-0243.

In general, charges must be filed within 180 days of the discriminatory act.  You can find more information on the EEOC web site at:http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/howtofile.cfm.  If you can afford it, you may also contact a lawyer to guide you through the EEOC process.  See the next question, if you need help in finding a lawyer.


How do I find a lawyer for a discrimination lawsuit?

If the EEOC deems that your complaint can be subject for a lawsuit, then you may want to file a private or class-action lawsuit.  In that case, you will want to find an attorney who can assist you on a contingency basis, which means he will only collect a fee if he wins a settlement or a case in court. When you win the case, you may be awarded both compensatory damage and punitive damage.  The amount of compensatory damage is normally not large.  It may include the salaries you’ve lost and the lawyer’s fees.  The amount of the punitive damage could be very large, if the discrimination is blatant and malicious.  A lawyer working on a contingency basis, normally takes one third of the award.

A list of Asian American lawyers can be found at the NAPABA (National Asian Pacific American Bar Association) website, www.napaba.org if you join as a member.  Or you can use the law directory on http://directory.findlaw.com/ for free.  Pro Bono services can be found at: http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/home.html

Often you may need a lawyer who is familiar with the laws of your state or locality.  You can look up the yellow pages in your telephone book, under “lawyer.”  There will be hundreds of names there.  Don’t be fazed by that.  Look for those lawyers who have ads in the yellow page that specifically list discrimination as one of their preferred areas of practice.  You’ll find out that the number of such lawyers is quite small.  Call some of them to find out if they’ll handle your case on a contingency basis.  Tell them that you’ve already contacted EEOC, and that it deems that you may have a valid case.  Most lawyers do not take a case on contingency basis unless EEOC has already done the first layer of screening.

Why shall I file a class-action law suit?

Most lawyer are more willing to take a case, if you have a “CLASS ACTION” suit.  A class action suit requires a minimum of 15 plaintiffs.  If  you have many colleagues who have been laid off on suspected “racial or national-origin grounds,” then you have a much stronger case.  You will also be subject to a lot less personal scrutiny and/or attacks by your company.  If there is any possibility of finding 15 persons to form a class action suit, it will definitely be worth your effort.  The plaintiffs in the “class” do not have to be named, so you do not have to convince your colleagues to join the suit.

1. Could the low odds for Asian Americans to be promoted to managerial positions be due to the lack of seniority in the work force?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics*, Asians Americans have on average greater seniority than Hispanics, although Hispanics enjoy a much higher chance of being promoted to managerial positions. Click to enlarge

*Visit: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.t03.htm

1. What is Executive Order 11246 (EO11246)?

An executive order is equivalent to a law, until rescinded by the Congress. Issued by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, EO 11246 forbids any organization from receiving federal money if they practice discrimination. It is enforced through the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). It is an extremely comprehensive and powerful law.

2. Many managers have business degrees. Asian Americans tend to get engineering and science degrees. Could that be why there are so few Asian Americans at the managerial level?

The percentage of Asian Americans with business degrees is 85% HIGHER than the national average. Although many of us have engineering or science degrees, this does not translate into fewer business degrees. This is because we are relatively few in fields such as English, history, psychology, liberal arts, and the humanities in general. Indeed, Asian Americans represent the highest percentage of all people with MBAs, and the second highest percentage of people with either a bachelors or doctoral degree in business. See Table 1 below.

Bachelor’s Degrees (business): http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d04/tables/dt04_263.asp
Master’s Degrees (business): http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d04/tables/dt04_266.asp
Doctor’s Degrees (business): http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d04/tables/dt04_269.asp

The above table shows that the % of AsAm getting business degree is 10% higher than that of national average, Note, however the % of AsAm having a bachelor’s and higher degree is 75% higher than that of the national average; the two effects combine to mean that the % of AsAm having a business degree is actually 85% than that of the national average.

2. Was EO11246 enforced to break the glass ceiling for APAs?

No. The enforcement of laws depends on politics, strange as it may sound. EO 11246 has been enforced for all Americans except for Asian Americans.

3. The average income of Asian Americans is higher than that of every other race or group except Caucasians. Is that proof positive that Asian Americans are not being discriminated against?

Income is tightly coupled to educational attainment according to the Census of 2000. If Asian American workers were paid the average national salary according to their educational attainment, the average Asian American income would be about 15% HIGHER than the average Caucasian income. This is because Asian Americans have on average much higher educational attainment. (See Chart 2) However, in reality, the income of the average Asian American is LOWER than that of the average Caucasian. See Table 2 for income calculations.

3. Did a glass ceiling exist for blacks and women, and how did they pierce it?

They broke their respective glass ceiling with the help of EO 11246, after they toiled to acquire sufficient political clout to induce politicians to help them. Both private and government studies have shown EO 11246’s effectiveness for blacks and women. (See, e.g., Leonard, Jonathan, 1984. “The Impact of Affirmative Action Regulation and Equal Employment Law on Black Employment” Journal of Economic Perspective .4:47-64.)

To see evidence that the glass ceiling is much worse for Asian Americans than for blacks, women, or any other group: http://www.80-20initiative.net/news/preselect2008_attachmentA.asp.

4. The average Asian American HOUSEHOLD income is indeed the highest of the nation. So is that proof positive that Asian Americans are not discrimination against?

Asian American HOUSEHOLD income should be even higher for the following reasons:

“Asians nationally have the highest household incomes… due to larger households with more earners. …Both sexes [of Asian Americans] earn less than Whites when education is taken into account… Asians have lower per capita incomes than whites.” Visit: http://www.arthurhu.com/index/income.htm (Arthur Hu is an Asian Week columnist and MIT-educated engineer).

4. How Does Enforcement of E.O. 11246 benefit me?

Within 10 years of the enforcement of EO 11246 for AsAms., the number of AsAm executives/administrators/managers/senior-partners is estimated to rise by 3 fold in mainstream institutions. Even assuming that you don’t work in a mainstream institution, just remember that A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL SHIPS.

5. Asian Americans are praised as the “Model Minority.” Why would anyone want to discriminate against us?

A hundred and forty-four years after the founding fathers declared “All men are created equal,” women were still not allowed to vote. Consider who those White women were. They were the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of the White men in power. Even after so-called ‘‘winning suffrage’, women didn’t really enjoy equal opportunity. They won equal opportunity only after they have established their own GROUP political clout through organizations like NOW, Emily’s List, and so on. Power never yields, unless under demand.

6. How about the cultural differences obvious in so many Asian Americans? Asian Americans may be underrepresented in managerial positions because we just don’t have sufficient managerial ambition and ability, language skills, or the right sense of humor.

Recall that “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus.” So the cultural difference between men and women is not only large but possibly intrinsic. But that has not prevented women from becoming leaders nowadays. Think Sandra Day O’Connor, Carly Fiorina, Diane Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice, Madeleine Albright, Meg Whitman, and Donna Shalala.

When discrimination against women was rampant, women were thought to have less managerial ambition, ability, and communication skills, and to lack a sense of humor. At the time, not only did most men believe in this stereotyped image of women, but so did many women themselves. That is the most insidious aspect of prejudice. The strong and powerful can get the weak and powerless to doubt themselves!

In 1965, Executive Order 11246 was issued and subsequently enforced by the Labor Department in order to give women a fair chance at becoming managers. Women rose to the challenge. The same will be true for Asian Americans.

7. Aren’t Asian Americans happy in their workplace? Doesn’t this show that they are not being discriminated against?

The EEOC engaged the Gallup Poll to do a national survey of workers’ perception of discrimination at work. The Gallup Poll announced that Asian Americans have the highest percentage of workers among all races who perceive that they are being discriminated at work.

8. Surely the next generation will not face the same discrimination as this generation! So why not just be patient and wait?

The next generation doesn’t arrive all of a sudden. Time flows continuously. Let’s look at our rate of progress for the period of 6 years from 1995 to 2001. See Chart 3, which is based on the glass ceiling chart you saw earlier (Chart 1). At a 0.5% per year improvement rate in private industries, a 0.75% improvement rate in universities, and a 1% rate in the federal government, AsAms will reach the current national average chance of being promoted to the managerial class in another 75 years! Equal opportunity in about 3 more generations!

Look at what is happening with Hispanics and women. They have less then half the distance to climb to equality opportunity than Asian Americans and are climbing at twice our rate of improvement. See how having GROUP political clout can make a difference?

9. Has 80-20 manipulated statistics? Why focus on the three areas of private industries, universities and the Federal government? Why not look at the picture for all workers?

We present those 3 areas because reliable data (EEO-1, OPM and NCES data) are available. According to the 2000 Census, when the entire civilian workforce is taken into consideration, Asian Americans still have the lowest odds to get into management.

Category Ratio to the national average
All 1.00
White 1.0599
Hispanics 0.862
Black 0.765
Women 0.730
Asian Pacific Islanders 0.703

EEO-1 Categories, Data using US Census: total civilian workforce (tabulation)

10. I still can’t believe it! Why would American institutions want to be in cahoots with our government to discriminate against us?

The end result we face today is at least partially our own fault.

America is a great country and has one of the best political systems. However, all political systems are run by human beings, and human beings are full of frailties. The most common frailty is that human beings tend to accommodate the strong and step on the weak.

The initial prejudice against Asian Americans may be caused by the color of our skin, our national origins, and cultural differences. However, the continuation of the very strong discrimination and inequity is at least partly our own fault. While other races and groups organize in order to have the political clout to punish any institution or politician that perpetuates or commits unfairness against them, Asian Americans remain woefully self- or family-centered, ignoring the dire need for Asian American GROUP political clout.

Fellow Americans, open up your pocketbook and give to 80-20. Our effort to win equal opportunity for ALL is a patriotic act to help make America “a more perfect Union.”

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