Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action programs at Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill were unconstitutional. NCAAT strongly disagrees with this decision. For years, colleges have considered race as a factor in admissions to gain a full understanding of an applicant’s story and to create more inclusive and representative student bodies. The Supreme Court’s regressive decision will set back all marginalized communities — including Asian Americans — and further increase the education and economic divide.
The perception that affirmative action does not benefit Asian Americans is a myth. Race-conscious admissions benefits Asian Americans by recognizing the unique challenges and barriers faced by subgroups within the community, such as Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders, and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, who have historically faced discrimination and limited access to educational opportunities.
In the coming days, many critics of affirmative action will claim that Asian Americans were the primary group opposing it — this is false.
Over two-thirds of Asian Americans are in favor of affirmative action. Let’s be clear: The narrative that overturning affirmative action is an Asian-led movement has largely been pushed by white supremacists whose goal is not equity; their goal is to keep colleges and universities white and wealthy. The proponents of this decision used Asian Americans as a racial wedge to create additional systemic barriers to higher education for marginalized groups — specifically Black and Hispanic students — and to create divisions between minority communities.
If equal opportunity is the true goal of overruling affirmative action, there are several steps that can still be taken that would be far more effective in creating a just college admissions process for all.
- Removing admissions preferences for children of alumni and athletes
- Eliminating standardized testing, which heavily favors those who can afford private school and private test preparation
- Increasing financial aid, especially for first-generation college students
- Offering ethnic studies in schools to create a better understanding of America’s history with racism and discrimination.
Rather than driving us apart, let this decision bring marginalized communities closer together as we seek our common goal of a more inclusive and equitable tomorrow.
Here are some additional resources that demonstrate how affirmative action benefits Asian Americans.
- We encourage you to read this op-ed debunking this myth from Janelle Wong, the Director of Asian American Studies at the University of Maryland.
- Read this personal essay from an Asian American college graduate on how we benefit from affirmative action in and out of the classroom.
- If college admissions were solely based on test scores, 20% of Asian Americans attending elite colleges would not have been admitted.
- Check out this article on how low income Asian communities benefit from affirmative action and how “colorblind” admissions paints an inadequate picture.
- Read this thread from Bianca Mabute-Louie 雷天芯, a Chinese American sociologist, on how the model minority myth and anti-blackness were exploited to dismantle affirmative action.
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