October 31st, 2022

Washington, DC — Today, members of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans joined in a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court as oral arguments began on cases that will likely determine the future of affirmative action and race-conscious admissions in higher education. Decisions on the two cases in question, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and SFFA v. Harvard University, are expected next summer. NCAPA issued the following statement:

We rally today on behalf of the majority of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders (AA and NHPI) who believe that affirmative action should be defended and our voices will not be manipulated by those who fear diversity. All students benefit from being exposed to a diverse community; and as we find ourselves in a moment where too many have allowed differences to divide our country, we are resolute in our belief that affirmative action must be preserved. 

Despite claims to the contrary, affirmative action has always been about communities of color being able to present their full stories when seeking a better education and a brighter future. To those within our community who disagree, we invite you to engage with us, rather than be used as a tool by those who seek to further disenfranchise communities of color. Our communities must stand together to embrace diversity. We stand united by the belief that affirmative action will uplift all of our communities to access equitable and inclusive education. 

Quyên Đinh, Executive Director of Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) stated: 

“Southeast Asian American students critically benefit from race-based, holistic admissions policies, and our country must uphold race-conscious policies as a commitment to equal opportunity in higher education. We denounce efforts to end these programs, especially when Asian students are used as props to dismantle civil rights. Race-conscious policies are crucial in increasing equity in higher education admissions for students of color who must overcome systemic barriers such as economic hardship. We call for our country to affirm its support for affirmative action and the diversity of our students’ refugee and immigrant experiences to be reflected in our academic institutions.”

John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (AAAJ-AAJC) said: 

“As an Asian American civil rights organization, we know racial discrimination when we see it and it doesn’t exist in these cases. It is my fervent belief that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the constitutional right to affirmative action as it has done for more than 40 years because it has benefitted countless students, including Asian Americans. The opposition does not speak for the vast majority of Asian Americans, and we reject these false narratives rooted in white supremacy to pit communities of color against one another when over two-thirds of Asian Americans support affirmative action because we understand it is our best opportunity to ensure there is equity and diversity in education.” 

Adam Carbullido, Director of Policy and Advocacy of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations’ (AAPCHO) commented: 

“Our education system cannot be blind to systemic barriers facing communities of color. College admissions benefit from considering an applicant’s whole person, and all students should have an equal opportunity to thrive in college, regardless of their family background, finances, and where they grew up. Affirmative action has helped level the playing field for countless Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the admissions process. It has allowed for a more equitable and diverse healthcare workforce, and contributed to improved health outcomes for students by improving health literacy, improving affluence to afford health care, and much more. AAPCHO and our members know the value of affirmative action for the communities we serve. The Supreme Court should preserve its use.”

Juliet K. Choi, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) stated:

“APIAHF supports diversity and equity through all aspects of our work. Programs like affirmative action are proven to reduce the pervasive inequities in our society. We are disappointed to see Asian American students and families exploited in these two Supreme Court cases, pitting our community against other communities of color. Affirmative action programs have been reaffirmed repeatedly by the Supreme Court, and race-conscious admissions benefit all students including Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.”

Becky Belcore, Co-Director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) said:

 “As an organization that organizes Korean and Asian Americans and immigrants, we fundamentally reject the flawed idea that race-conscious admissions harms our communities. Given the foundations of white body supremacy instilled in U.S. systems and structures, marginalized communities — including Asian Americans — have been able to access resources and opportunities precisely because of policies like race-conscious admissions.”

Thu Nguyen, Executive Director of OCA National – Asian Pacific American Advocates commented: 

“Affirmative action is not just about checking off a box. It empowers students to authentically share their lived experiences in personal statements, and showcase the unique strengths they bring to the table. This kind of diversity creates rich learning environments, and we must preserve the opportunities for such.”

Alvina Yeh, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) stated:

“Too many AAPIs are locked out of education because of economic barriers–affirmative action helps AAPI students to achieve their goals. Not only is the argument against affirmative action misleading – it also attempts to divide communities of color and harms millions of young AAPIs in the process. We know that access to education is a key to higher wages and better working conditions. APALA’s members across the country will continue to fight for racial justice and education equity.”

Estella Owoimaha-Church, Executive Director of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) said:

“Empowering Pacific Islander Communities is a Pro-Black, Pro-Indigenous organization. We fully recognize the years of sacrifice our elders and ancestors underwent in the collective struggle for affirmative action. This is a reminder that umbrella terms do a disservice to many of our communities. As a Black-Pacifika student, I am grateful to programs like Educational Opportunity Program that provided the access and support I needed to afford a college education. To tear down affirmative action is to destroy futures of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and other folx of color striving to access and navigate unjust systems.”

Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of thirty-eight national Asian Pacific American organizations that represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns.