The Time All San Francisco Fought Over School Fairness and Equality
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Keywords:Affirmative action, Asian American, Chinese American, NAACP, school assignments.
AbstractAsian Americans have become a major factor in the debate over affirmative action and college/school admission policies. Yet most often their role is relegated to one side or the other of the argument - either grouped with other oppressed minorities, or else grouped with privileged white students. However, Asian Americans have their own agency and self-determination that requires attention. Beginning in the 1990s, San Francisco’s Asian American community resisted mainstream hegemony and charted their own course forward. This study uses a comparative approach towards these early Asian American activists, comparing and contrasting their motivations and actions with Black activists of the time, and also with a respected federal judge, scion of one of San Francisco’s wealthiest and traditional legal dynasties. News articles, notes and newsletters of Chinese American activist groups, internal school district reports, and 24 interviews are used to express how early generations of Asian Americans stood up to fight when they felt their version of the American dream was under attack, and how they focused on present-day tactical actions instead of future-looking strategies or past historical experiences. This study also reveals practical principles that these specifically Chinese American activists employed which may have applications for all groups resisting domination and/or assimilation. The methods and tactics employed by these second-generation Asian Americans that grew up in a community remade by the 1965 Immigration Act, helps us understand how the Asian American community has developed since then, and how it is continuing to move forward.
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