Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Asians fight loss of minority status for small business loans

First Published: Unity, Vol. 2, No. 13, June 29-July 12, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Are Asians oppressed minorities in the U.S.? This has been a point of controversy surrounding the federal government’s Public Law 95-507, which was set up in October 1978 to provide some benefits for minority small businesses.

Many people in the Asian community criticized Public Law 95-507 because it specifically excluded Asians from the status of “socially and economically disadvantaged minorities,” therefore excluding Asians from the benefits provided by the law.

It took pressure from Asian American civil rights groups, small businesses, politicians, community groups and other minority organizations like the Black Business Association to force Congress to draft an amendment to Public Law 95-507 which included Asians on the list of minorities.

On June 12, this amendment was accepted by Senate conferees who were meeting with House members. The amendment is now attached to S-918, the Small Business Development Act of 1979, which is going before Congress for final approval. If S-918 passes, the regulations excluding Asians from the list of minorities will become invalid.


Winning this amendment will be important for certain sectors of Asian small businesses as well as in heading off the wider implications of the exclusion of Asians.

Asian small businesses which, over the past ten years, participated in various Small Business Administration and federal government minority business programs, would have been cut off from any special consideration for government contracts and federal assistance.

Moreover, once it was written into law that Asians were no longer considered a “disadvantaged minority,” other federal agencies would have followed suit. Public Law 95-507 contained wider implications which could have helped lay the grounds for excluding Asians from all government programs, services, guidelines and policies relating to minority nationality peoples.

Asians have not “made it”

The premise behind this law’s original exclusion of Asians is that Asians in general and Asian American businesses in particular have “made it.” All the facts reveal a different picture.

Asians in America are nationally oppressed, and the small business class of Asian Americans is no exception. Asian businesses make up only .005% of the total U.S. businesses, and 63% of these are confined to retail sales like corner grocery stores and small retail clothing stores, or to selected services like small laundries and restaurants.

Asian businesses are such small operations that 68% of them gross less than $25,000 annually. Many are so small they don’t even qualify for certain federal business programs.

Public Law 95-507 is not the first time the federal government has tried to exclude Asians from minority status to prevent them from getting government benefits, and to divide the various oppressed minorities by creating false distinctions.