When defining "underrepresentation" one must consider several dynamics.
1) To the extent that Pacific Islanders represent a small portion of the American legal community, they are "underrepresented" in pure numbers. However, this is probably not by a large margin, given that they comprise a very small minority of Americans to begin with. By contrast, African-Americans comprise at least 13% of the American population but represent an unacceptably small segment of lawyers...ditto Hispanics, whose population is growing faster than any. Because the general population predicts the level and frequency of interaction with the medical and legal fields, a group's representation in those professions should ideally reflect its portion of the general population.
2) The other metric defining underrepresentation is "relative poverty levels" both within the Pacific Islander ethnic class(es) and between Pacific Islanders and middle-class American whites. This is where Pacific Islanders also fail to qualify. In the aggregate, their relative earnings, quality of schools and education levels, etc. tend to surpass those of Hispanics, African-Americans, Indian/Native-Americans, and poorer Asians (i.e., Korean, Filipino, Lao, Cambodian, etc.). They have historically had lower dropout rates and received better quality education.
3) The third dynamic to be considered is "historical disenfranchisement", via slavery, geographical displacement, and laws designed to perpetuate it, such as the Filipino Exclusion Act, Jim Crow Laws, etc. Pacific Islanders do not fall into this group because American laws have not been specifically aimed at disenfranchising them, economically, geographically or otherwise.
4) Lastly, many people of color cannot claim underrepresentation in the U.S. for the same reason an American who relocates to France would not have a similar benefit there: their "relocation is by choice". Those people of color who immigrate to the U.S. by choice cannot, and should not have the benefit of getting in line with the aforementioned groups.
Many Ethiopians, for example, shun black Americans but align with them when they see an opportunity to benefit from associating with them. Indians from India wonder why they cannot be considered in the same class with Native American Indians or Mexican Americans, since they are all brown and red-skinned. It would be fundamentally wrong to allow those groups to benefit in such ways when they have not endured the suffering that ethnic groups of color have endured in the U.S.
That having been said, the boost is not simply about historical disenfranchisement, but that which has been historical and continues. It's a complicated subject, but there are reasons certain ethnic groups receive the boost while others do not. The sad part is that they system would be unjust no matter how we handled it, but this is the best idea we have at the present time.
Last edited by PDaddy
on Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:06 am, edited 1 time in total.