Last year, over 70 Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) organizations across the state participated in a large-scale campaign to encourage AANHPI Californians to be counted in the 2010 Census. Having accurate data on our communities helps to determine how much communities will receive in federal funding, inform how voting district lines will be drawn, and understand where our communities are concentrated.
But Census data is not enough to truly understand the needs of our communities. We are diverse in the languages that we speak, the health issues that we face, and the experiences that we live through. Oftentimes, when all of our ethnicities are grouped together under the umbrella of “Asian American/Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander,” our issues can get lost in the mix. As a result, we don’t have the data to show that, for instance, Pacific Islanders need to have better screening for certain types of cancer, or that we need better youth programs for Cambodians, Hmong, and Laotians to encourage them to stay in school because of low educational attainment rates.
State Assemblymember Mike Eng is sponsoring a bill that would require state-collected data to be broken down into specific ethnic AANHPI categories, instead of grouping all ethnicities into one large category. State law already exists, requiring state agencies to break down the data they collect on AANHPIs into the following ethnicities: Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Asian Indian, Hawaiian, Guamanian, Samoan, Laotian, and Cambodian. However, state agencies are either not in compliance with the law, or they have not made their data available and accessible.
Assemblymember Eng’s bill would require certain key state agencies to (1) post the data on their websites to be more accessible, and (2) add more ethnicities in their reporting, to include Bangladeshi, Fijian, Hmong, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Thai, and Tongan.
For more information on the bill, please click here to view a fact sheet on the importance of data disaggregation.