In the Feb. 4-17, 2022, issue of the Pacific Citizen, JACL Executive Director David Inoue endorses President Joe Biden’s promise to fill retiring Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer’s position with a Black woman with the argument that “the need for affirmative action couldn’t be any clearer.” In support of this argument, Inoue cites Pew Research Center data to claim that Black women judges are underrepresented.
Inoue fails in his article to include any data showing the number of Asian American men or women appointed as federal judges. My guess is that Asian Americans are even less represented than Black appointees.
JACL’s endorsement of President Biden’s filter of using solely a selected skin color and gender as a threshold criteria without first even considering professional qualifications of members of other ethnic communities flies in the face of JACL’s stated Mission.
On its website, JACL states that its ongoing Mission is “ … to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.”
In furtherance of its Mission, and even if one were to accept the argument that Inoue is making, JACL needs instead to object to President Biden’s skin color and gender filter because it blocks equal opportunity to Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry.
During World War II, JACL leaders and members believed in JACL’s Mission. They fought injustice and bigotry to show that Japanese Americans were not “nonaliens.” JACL leaders and members also engaged in the 10-year fight to pass the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (aka “Redress”) to affirm that all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law.
As we see the substantial increase in hate crimes being committed against the Japanese American and other Asian American communities, it would be very difficult for JACL to deny that its stated Mission is just as relevant today as it was in 1929, 1941 and 1988.
But today, JACL turns a blind eye to its Mission by endorsing a selection process to our highest Court that denies equality to Japanese Americans and other Asian Americans simply because of skin color. Or, does JACL believe that there are no qualified Asian Americans who can even be considered for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court?
JACL appears to have become a toothless lap dog sitting in the dark for fear that any light would force it to confront the shadows of past JACL leaders. JACL must realign its advocacy, beyond mere lip service, with its stated Mission so that JACL promotes and preserves the rights, values, heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community. If JACL does not do this, who will?
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are mine and do not represent the views and opinions of any organization with which I am or have been associated.)