The Seattle Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) stands with the “Community Coalition for Contracting and Jobs” consisting of African-American contractors and others and with communities of color to express our deep concern on the impact and potential broader negative implications for minority and women owned firms as a result of the ruling by the 9th Circuit Court that suspended the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) DBE program.

This ruling determined that WSDOT’s practice of using race-conscious goals as a condition of contract awards is unlawful in the absence of specific evidence of prior discrimination. Because of this, many questions have been raised by communities of color in regards to the department’s efforts, or lack thereof, in collecting and maintaining credible and sufficient data that could have defended the DBE program.

At a broader level, communities of color have experienced a significant “roll back,” lack of sensitivity and accountability in the context of contracting, educational and employment opportunities in the public sector. Though disparities existed when “parity” policies and programs were in place (e.g., Affirmative Action and DBE), it has plunged to even greater depths with the passage of Initiative 200 in 1998 and continues on a downward spiral with the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court.

Over the last 84 years, Seattle JACL has worked diligently through education and advocacy efforts to ensure a fair and just society. In light of the 9th Circuit Court ruling, Seattle JACL stands ready to work with and assist the “Community Coalition for Contracting and Jobs,” communities of color contractors and all key stakeholders in identifying and implementing solutions that promote diversity and parity in contracting.

The Seattle Chapter Japanese American Citizens Leagues is a non-profit, grassroots civil rights organization dedicated to empowering our local community through high quality programs and strategic partnerships focusing on activism, education and youth leadership development. As a chapter of the National Japanese American Citizens League, we strive to be a leading Asian American advocacy group for civil and human rights while promoting and preserving the values and cultural heritage of Japanese Americans.

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