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NY school board member suspended for offending Asians

Asian American protestors jammed the school board meeting.

Views from the Edge

Brooklyn school leaders temporarily suspended a Brooklyn school board member over comments that offended some Asian Americans.

Community Education Council 22 approved a resolution to suspend school board member Jackie Cody for the next two meetings.

During an online forum last September, Cody wrote the following about the mayor’s controversial plan to eliminate standardized tests for admission to college prep high schools:

“To be blunt, certain Whites and certain Yellow folks on this list-serv continue to focus on a very narrow view… what they’re advocating for is damaging to White and Yellow children as well.”

“I couldn’t believe that another parent leader would use a racial slur in a forum being seen by over 150 parent leaders across the city,” Fellow council member Yiatin Chu told CBS on Nov. 27

“There is a lot of ugly history behind the use of the term ‘yellow,’” Chu added. “The term yellow peril (was used) in the 19th century which lead to the Exclusion Act which prevented anyone from China from immigrating to the U.S.”

In response, on Nov. 26, Cody apologized, “All I have to say is I sincerely apologize for offending the East Asian community, I had no idea that the term that I used was offensive.”

Her apology did not satisfy Asian American community leaders, who wanted Cody to resign.

The school failed to pass a separate motion asking for Cody’s resignation.

Community leaders felt it was insincere and not enough.

“What are we teaching our kids?” Community Education Councilmember Lucas Liu said. “The chancellor has not even stepped up and denounced this use of racism.”

“I truly seek forgiveness from those I offended. This situation does not reflect who I am at all,” she said in a phone call with CBS. “We need to educate the community. There’s a lot of people that don’t know this term is offensive.”

The incident was the latest in the ongoing tension between conservative members of the Chinese American community on one hand, and Black and Latino communities and NY Mayor Bill de Blasio, who wants to further diversify the school district’s specialized high schools by doing away with culturally biased standardized tests.

In many ways, the controversy mirrors the situation at Harvard, whose admission policies have be criticized for allegedly being biased against Asian applications. Some Asian Americans say — for the sake of diversity — that some students were given admission even though their test scores were lower than some Asian students.

The student population of New York schools is 40.6% Hispanic, 25.5% black, 16.2% Asian and only 15.1% white.

Data collected by the New York City Department of Education, efforts to increase diversity has failed to move the needle. White and Asian students were not only more likely to take the test, they were also more likely to score high enough for admission.

In 2018, the majority of students who received offers for admission were White (about 29%) or Asian (about 51%) while only 10.5% offers went to Black and Latino students.

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