Coalition of more than 50 multiracial organizations advocates for Asian American data disaggregation at House Bill 3361 hearing

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Disaggregated data would help better serve Commonwealth’s diverse Asian American community


Today, a broad coalition of multiracial and multiethnic constituents, advocates, service providers, and allies testified at a State House public hearing to voice strong support for H.3361 that will enable the Commonwealth to collect disaggregated data for the largest Asian American and Pacific Islander groups. As community leaders and members, we support data disaggregation because we understand the impact of increased representation for underserved and underrepresented members within Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

Community advocates within the Asian American community have called for data disaggregation for decades. We thank all the Representatives who co-sponsored this bill, including all members of the Asian American Caucus: Rep. Tackey Chan, Rep. Donald H. Wong, Rep. Paul A. Schmid, III, Rep. Keiko M. Orrall, Rep. Rady Mom, Sen. Jason M. Lewis, Sen. Barbara A. L’ltalien, Rep. Joseph W. McGonagle, Jr., Rep. Steven S. Howitt, Rep. Kay Khan, Rep. Paul R. Heroux, Sen. James B. Eldridge, Rep. Marjorie C. Decker, Rep. Byron Rushing, Rep. Daniel Cahill, Rep. Kevin G. Honan, Rep. Bruce J. Ayers, and Rep. Elizabeth A. Malia. We also appreciate the support of the entirety of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus as well as Rep. Steven R. Ultrino.

While the U.S. is racially diverse, we cannot overlook the fact that the experiences and realities of Asian American and Pacific Islander ethnic subgroups vary greatly. As anti-immigration sentiments and policies are on the rise nationally, it is all the more critical for the Commonwealth to protect our immigrant communities — but without accurate data, it is difficult to understand the needs of each of these communities. These realities are outlined by researchers at UMass-Boston’s Institute for Asian American Studies using the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey:

  • When attempting to understand Massachusetts Asian Americans as a conglomerate, the overall median household income would be $81,505, but disaggregated data accounts for the two largest Southeast Asian refugee communities in the Commonwealth with median household incomes of $56,895 and $57,290 for Vietnamese and Cambodians, respectively.
  • When clumping all Asian Americans together, 35% reported that they spoke English less than “very well,” whereas 61.2% of Vietnamese reported higher levels of limited English proficiency.
  • The combined Asian American family poverty rate in Massachusetts was found to be 8.4%, whereas disaggregated data specified poverty rates of 15.6% for Vietnamese families and 16.7%of Cambodian families.
  • Educational attainment among Asian American subgroups varies greatly, but without disaggregation of data, 57.5% of Asian Americans in Massachusetts have a Bachelor’s or higher; data disaggregation puts these numbers at 25.9% and 14.9% for Vietnamese and Cambodians, respectively.

As these data points show, “Asians” as an all-encompassing label fails to reflect the wide disparities among ethnic subgroups. While the above disaggregated statistics have been collected at the federal level, there is still a need for much more critical data to be collected at the state level through Commonwealth agencies. These statistics based on disaggregated data allow us to target services to address the unique economic, social and health needs of underserved Asian communities.


Why we support H.3361

“As with the Asian American community, our Black and Latino communities are extremely diverse … While the federal Census provides us with some level of disaggregated data by ethnic group, it is not enough, and our state agencies need to fill the void. The accuracy of the upcoming 2020 Census is at stake given that critical suggestions to improve the ways we collect racial and ethnic data may not be implemented.”

State Representative Frank Moran, 17th Essex District; Chair, Black and Latino Caucus


“We seek to provide targeted and effective services to each of these unique communities, but we are hamstrung in our efforts by a singular Asian category.”

State Representative Steve Ultrino, 33rd Middlesex District


“As policy makers and service providers strive to address the needs of our diverse communities, it is important to have disaggregated data to inform that work. From healthcare to education and housing, serving diff’ segments a/the AAPI community means unmasking averages to show outcomes and disparities by language and cultural community. Equity requires specificity.”

Michelle Wu – Boston City Councilor At-Large


“For many of my constituents, English is not their first language. They require language assistance and have needs related to the issues of health, education, and social services. Accurate and detailed data on the demographics of our diverse communities will help public officials and government to properly serve our constituents and make informed decisions.”

Ed Flynn – Boston City Councilor, District Two


“In the field of education we are continuously working to address achievement and opportunity  gaps. The model minority myth masks the needs of different groups and if we ‘re not looking at disaggregated data on an institutional level, we miss opportunities to address the needs of our students. Disaggregated data is also important in making sure that we have educators who reflect our student populations and are able to speak their language.”

Jessica Tang – President, Boston Teachers Union


“Most cities and counties in Massachusetts do not have large enough populations to enable this kind of analysis using federal data collections, such as the American Community Survey collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. State and local data collections of detailed Asian origin are critical to fill these gaps, and to help formulate and implement policies that benefit local populations. It is also critical that such data be collected and disseminated in a manner that protects individual privacy and ensures data security, consistent with safeguards on other types of state and local data collections.”

Karthick Ramakrishnan – Director, AAPI Data; Professor of Public Policy


“The only reason we have any data about our populations at all is that community leaders have advocated for more detailed and better data for decades. The disaggregation of Asian data is not a new issue; in fact, it dates back at least to the federal government’s release of the Heckler report in 1985, when Asians and Pacific Islanders were reported to have better health outcomes than all other groups. That faulty assumption was based on small samples of aggregate data, which hid the very real health disparities that different Asian populations faced. Data alone are agnostic. Data alone help us interpret and understand the truth about our communities. Data alone do not cause inequality, but can help us better understand it.”

Giles Li – Director, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center


“Vietnamese Americans are more likely to have Hepatitis B than other populations. These data points, along with others, is what guides the guide to determine the services we provide and partnership we make in order to help mitigate issues around mental health, housing, economic development and education/youth services that our community needs. For many of the families that we serve, our ability to know the conditions that affect them saves their lives.”

Lisette Le – Director, Vietnamese American Initiative for Development


“CPA helped lead the 10-year struggle for permanent bilingual ballots, and we have seen how it important these are for voters to be able to vote independently and free of coercion. If the City of Boston did not collect disaggregated data on Asian Americans, they would not know how many Chinese and Vietnamese ballots are needed in which polling locations. While this is just one example, this can be easily apply to other services and rights such as health and education.”

Karen Chen – Director, Chinese Progressive Association


“We believe that AAPI communities are stronger together when we understand both our shared struggles and issues that affect particular ethnic groups. Our organization both runs programs for the Asian American community broadly, as well as programs that specifically support Vietnamese American young adults and South Asian young adults. We know that Vietnamese refugees, and other Southeast Asian refugees from the Vietnam War, experience a distinct set of barriers in the US, and we believe that disaggregated data will allow us to better support this community.”

Carolyn Chou – Director, Asian American Resource Workshop


“Without disaggregation of Asians, we are not able to study opportunity and outcomes for those who came to the US by choice (such as for graduate education) vs those who came as war refugees (such as from Cambodia and Vietnam), two very different circumstances that are currently indistinguishable without collection of ethnicity. If the state routinely collected information about residents’ ethnicity (and generation number, how they self-identify, and status as political refugees, students, or workers), Massachusetts agencies could better develop and target programs, policies, and services for those most in need, which is equity operationalized. “

Rosann Tung, Ph.D. – Director of Policy, Research, and Evaluation; New York University, Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools


“As a minister and as a member of our faith’s Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, I know that our ethnic identities in addition to our racial identities matter. In my national work around racial justice and white supremacy our work is hampered by data that is not specific and does not allow us to mobilize to support our South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander communities.”

Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, Unitarian Universalist Association


Coalition members and supporters

  • AAPIData
  • Addressing Disparities in Asian Populations through Translational Research
  • Asian American Commission
  • Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts
  • Asian American Policy Review – Harvard Kennedy School
  • Asian American Resource Workshop
  • Asian Community Development Corporation
  • Asian Pacific American Law Students Association – Harvard Law School
  • Asian Pacific Islander Civic Action Network
  • Asian Women for Health
  • Association of Harvard Asian and Asian American Faculty and Staff
  • Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
  • Boston Teachers Union
  • Brazilian Women’s Group
  • Brookline Asian American Family Network
  • Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell
  • Chelsea Collaborative
  • Chinese Progressive Association
  • Clean Water Action
  • Coalition for Social Justice
  • Community Labor United
  • Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
  • Essex County Community Organization
  • Greater Boston Legal Services, Asian Outreach Unit
  • Greater Malden Asian American Community Coalition
  • GreenRoots Chelsea
  • Harry H. Dow Memorial Legal Assistance Fund
  • Immigrant Service Providers Group/Health
  • Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative
  • Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
  • Japanese American Citizens League, New England chapter
  • Korean-American Citizens League of New England
  • Massachusetts Asian American Educators Association
  • Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus
  • Massachusetts Coalition For Occupational Safety And Health
  • Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition
  • Massachusetts Voter Table
  • Metrowest Worker Center
  • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Boston Chapter
  • New England United for Justice
  • Pan-Asian Coalition for Education – Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance
  • Quincy Asian Resources, Inc.
  • Saheli – Support and Friendship For South Asian Women and Families
  • South Asian Students’ Association – Amherst College
  • South Cove Community Health Center
  • Tufts Asian Student Coalition – Tufts University
  • UMass Boston Institute for Asian American Studies
  • UMass Lowell Center for Asian American Studies
  • Unitarian Universalist Association
  • Vietnamese-American Community of Massachusetts
  • Vietnamese American Initiative for Development



  • Anh Vu Sawyer – Director, Southeast Asian Coalition of Massachusetts
  • C.N. Le, Ph.D. – Sociology Faculty and Director of Asian & Asian American Studies, UMass Amherst Delia Cheung Hom, Ed.D. – Director, Asian American Center, Northeastern University
  • Ed Flynn – Boston City Councilor, District Two
  • Janelle Wong – AAPI Data Senior Researcher and Professor of Asian American Studies
  • Jennifer Lee – Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
  • Karthick Ramakrislman – AAPI Data Director and Professor of Public Policy
  • Kimberly A. Truong, Ph.D. – Director of lnclusion Programs, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Michelle Wu – Boston City Councilor At-Large
  • Rosann Tung, Ph.D. – Director of Policy, Research, and Evaluation; New York University, Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools
  • Steven R. Ultrino, Ed.D, State Representative for the 33rd Middlesex District
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  1. You guys should go to the hearing hall. more than 80% people there agaist this bill. Even those orgnization listed here can not represent the majority of chinese american in MA. There were mire than 1000 people there againt this bill. The material you provided to Chinatown is very misleading and fakse. Shame on you all!!!

  2. The opposite side is not only Chinese American, but also Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, African American Pastors, Jewish, white, women, kids, seniors, mothers, daughters, restaurant employees, students, workers, doctors, lawyers etc. They are from all kinds of different backgrounds, coming to the state house to make sure their voice is heard. They are real people. They don’t want to be miss-represented. Not like those from big organizations and fancy titles who are professionals at lobbying in state house, they take their day off from work and school, sacrificed their time of life, waiting from 9:00 in the morning till night, just for the 3 minutes to tell the committee what real people are thinking about!

  3. This article is unbelievably arrogant. H3361 is simply a racist bill. If it is not racist, why not dividing European Americans or African Americans as well?

  4. A Proud Asian American

    Shame on you! For the last 4 hours of the hearing, 97% of the testifiers went against it. Please stop spreading this disinformation!

  5. If this is not fake news, then what is?

  6. Many of those who work at these non-profit organizations have dedicated their lives and careers to serve and advocate for the low income Asian American immigrant community. Please be respectful.

  7. This article is an amazing example of biased reporting and audacious distortion of truth. The mysterious “guest” reporter could have taught Stalin and Mao’s propaganda machine how to properly spin an story!

    If there is one thing I could suggest the “guest” reporter to further improve the article is to include a picture. With a little photoshop I am certain he/she can produce a photo showing overwhelming support.

  8. I don’t see any of the comments being disrespectful toward any of the listed organizations. They are being disrespectful toward the article, which is completely appropriate, IMHO.

  9. They are not working for those non-profit organizations for free. In fact, for most of them, it is just how they can get their paycheck. they support H.3361 just because they think they can get more government funding. For these folks, it is perfectly fine to sell their dignity for $$$.

  10. A small number of people support H.3361 just because they think they can get more government funding. For these folks, it is perfectly fine to sell their dignity for $$$.
    In fact, during the hearing, more than 90% audience oppose the bill. In a democratic society, we, the people, have the right to choose how we want to live. We don’t need the “elites”, “Establishment” to decide how we should live.

  11. Clearly a racist bill to divide US. Why Asian people only? Why not other ethnic groups? How can you prevent the collected data from being abused?

  12. I’ve heard supporters of the bill respond to concerns that the opponents have. I haven’t heard any opponents respond to reasons why supporters are supporting the bill. Opponents just say ‘racist bill, racist bill’ without any backup or support.

    • H.3361 is a blunt discrimination against Asian Americans.

      Maybe it is a good intention. But the data can be easily used for other purposes against the Asian Americans.

      History repeats itself. During the World War II, ~120,000 Japanese Americans were the forced to relocate and incarcerated in camps.

      Germany started the Holocaust with Jews registry. H.3361 is an Asian registry.

      Given the current political environment and anti-immigration rhetoric, we have deep concerns about this Asian Registry and strong fear of our safety.

      H.3361 is an unnecessary bill.
      Census data already have the information. It is a total waste of taxpayer money.

      They claimed that the data can be beneficial for medical research. Then why Asians only? Don’t we want to benefit all the ethnic groups? What is the true intention behind this bill?

    • At the hearing, there have been plenty refutation addressed at the supporters reasoning. The bilingual service and medical research don’t need country of origin of your parents, which actually would be misleading. And those data are already available now. We don’t need state government to collect personal identity data which is not privacy protected like the federal funded census and clinical studies. Most importantly, if this is really wonderful benefit, please do it for the whole population, not just for Asian Americans

    • if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck!

  13. This article written by the Sharon Chinese Association provided many responses to reasons from supporters. Check it out. This bill is divisive and does more harm than benefit to the Asian American community. Given the current political environment, the Asian Americans have every reason to feel deeply disturbed because of the requirement of sensitive information that is not required for any other racial groups. The state legislators ought to weigh in the tremendous risk of misuse of the disaggregated information over the claimed benefits.

  14. Much of that medical data is actually not available now. There is some data from federal census, but state-level data could provide much more. For example, there is a large casino coming to Boston. We expect this will greatly affect Asian Americans, especially those in the restaurant business, but we don’t know the extent of the impact. With disaggregate data, we could better understand the negative affects of gambling addiction on specific communities. Chinese and Vietnamese have different diabetes level. Cambodians suffer from higher level of PTSD. This is only the tip of the iceberg of what we need to better help people. The “Asian american” category is too broad. How can you lump Chinese and Indians in one category? It is meaningless. And is it not true that state level data is not protected. Massachusetts is one of the strictest in the country.

    • if you think you have some medical issue, either physical or mental, you should go to ask your doctor. Do not label restaurant workers as gamblers! if you think they are addicted to gambling, go to every restaurant, speak to every cook, wait, waitress, offer your help! let’s assume the data collection shows that there are 23087 Chinese working in restaurant, 7892 Vietnamese working in restaurant, 7965 Cambodians working in restaurant. How is that going to help you fighting gambling issue???

  15. Yanhong Xiong

    If for this purpose, why not disaggregate all people’s data from Africa, Europe, South America, Australia? Only labeling people from Asia is not convincing at all. We can help people with low-income no matter where they came from. Data collection is not a right way to solve this problem. My family strongly oppose the bill H3611.

  16. I did not know I have been represented by some Vietnamese organizations until my co-worker told me about this Bill. I even don’t know where those Vietnamese organizations are located. I don’t think they really represent the community. Now, with this Bill, they can officially call me and children Vietnamese? I am proud to be American, the same as all other Americans. Don’t call me Vietnamese!

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