Is affirmative action bad for Asian Americans?

From the mind of an actual Chinese American woman

I remember sitting in a dimly lit classroom my junior year of high school listening to two of my classmates present their Theory of Knowledge project on affirmative action. While listening, one of their main arguments was that most Asian Americans are somehow against affirmative action due to it being detrimental to them.

Moving forward to my senior year, I received a continuous amount of college rejections until finally one of my ideal schools accepted me. For a moment, I wondered if this had something to do with affirmative action. Other people in my classes with the same GPAs and even less extracurricular activities were getting into schools like William and Mary while I was being waitlisted. I began to think maybe affirmative action is detrimental towards Asian Americans. But I was wrong, I was just the average disappointed high school senior whose dream of getting into some amazing school was destroyed over and over. Luckily I still ended up at one.

high school me

High school senior me excited for the future

Fasting forward to 2016, and Abigail Fisher has just lost her case against the University of Texas on the usage of race in admissions. Ultimately one of the biggest myths of affirmative action is that it’s only beneficial towards Black and Latinx Americans. Another myth is that Asian Americans are all against affirmative action because somehow it’s detrimental towards us. In addition, another myth would be that affirmative action is an act of “reverse racism” towards white Americans.

Affirmative action is defined as policies and or actions that benefit those who are the most heavily impacted by discrimination. It’s known as positive discrimination in the UK. Affirmative action is often misinterpreted as only applicable to education. Affirmative action is applicable to both the workplace and places of education. The end goal is to make more of an equitable playing ground.
But despite the intentions of affirmative action, throughout the years many cases have brought against it. Cases of white Americans arguing that a minority was chosen over them because they happened to be white have been more than common. Truthfully many of the plaintiffs in these cases have been barely above the below average mark in the matters of grades.

Abigail Fisher, or #BeckyWithTheBadGrades, as she was known on Twitter

Abigail Fisher, or #BeckyWithTheBadGrades, as she was known on Twitter

Another commonality in cases against affirmative action include incidents that are promoted as Asians against affirmative action. An example of such a case would be websites such as UNC not fair or UW not fair. These websites use Asian Americans as their so called mascots thus preying on the insecurities of Asian Americans during college admissions processes. But the thing is these websites were both founded by a white lawyer named Edward Blum.

Asian American communities are commonly used in anti-affirmative action cases by white supremacist values who can’t accept minorities being much more intelligent, and competition ends up being created among minority communities. In fact, two in three registered Asian American voters in California support affirmative action. If we expanded that survey group, we could possibly find more widespread support for affirmative action amongst Asian American communities.

Affirmative action actually does benefit Asian Americans. Although we’re touted as the model minority that represents why it shouldn’t exist, affirmative action has helped us in many ways. For example, the wealthy Asian American community that exists at Yale came to existence because of the gains Asian American applicants received through affirmative action.

It continues, the breakthroughs we’ve made in film and television today (although small but still impactful) are because of affirmative action. Directors and producers are seeing the need to create a diverse inclusive environment. There are many more reasons why affirmative action has given the Asian American community a chance to be seen and if our community rejects affirmative action, we reject our chances to be more than the “model minority.”

We reject our chances to stand in solidarity with fellow communities of color. We can’t let our community be stuck in the middle of the anti-affirmative action debate and thus be used by white supremacy. We are more than the “model minority.”

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