We are first-generation immigrants from China living in Washington state. We had no plans for political activism when we arrived in the United States. Yet the potential injustice of politics can be so severe that it compels the most unlikely of us to take a stand.
This year, we are leading the campaign to reject the restoration of racial quotas and preferences in our state.
In 1998, Washington voters passed a ballot initiative that made it illegal for the state to “discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
This past April, Democrats in the state Legislature overturned the ban. Along with some 300 Asian-Americans, we showed up to the legislative session to voice our opposition getting ride of the ban. Our legislators refused to listen, passing their bill on a straight party-line vote.
One state senator even dared us to collect the 200,000 signatures necessary to force the measure, Initiative 1000, to a referendum in this year’s election.
We did exactly that and prevented Initiative 1000 from becoming law. Let the people decide, we said, and we put Referendum 88 on the ballot. A “reject” vote means rejecting Initiative1000 and upholding Washington’s existing ban on quotas and preferences.