May 22, 2011 | Yvonne Lim Wilson
Asians will no longer be classified as “Other,” according to a Texas bill that passed on May 17. Rep. Mark Strama filed and Sen. Letitia Van DePutte sponsored HB 3255, which will encourage the state demographer to include a broad variety of racial/ethnic groups in estimates and projects.
“It feels like a closed loop and we are accepted as citizens and residents like the rest of Americans,” said Channy Soeur, Network of Asian American Organizations president.
Soeur recounted applying for a city of Austin job more than 25 years ago when he had no choice but to classify himself as “Other.” Once hired, he, along with two other city employees Gopal Guthikonda and George Chang, visited then-Council Members Gus Garcia and Bridgid Shea to change the city classifications.
Since that meeting, the City of Austin officially includes “Asian” as a category on government forms and studies. But that was not the case in most Texas cities, until now, Soeur said.
After Gov. Rick Perry signs HB 3255, the law becomes effective Sept. 1 and Soeur says it could have far-reaching implications. For government agencies and other organizations seeking to hire create a workforce that resembles the population at large, they will now have the tools to include Asian Americans.
“Imagine not only the application of the concept, but also to raise the awareness and anticipation of what is expected of [Asian Americans],” Soeur said.