Unless you have big bucks to hire organizations like Key Worldwide Foundation to fix your application to get you into Yale University, most Asian students in America fight an uphill battle in college applications. The Asian obsession with Ivy Leagues is ridiculous, but so is the colleges’ obsession to keep them out, often using affirmative action or practices inspired by it.
In this light, I applaud Texas Tech Medical School’s recent decision to stop using race in its admissions, at the request of the U.S. Department of Education. I hope it is the beginning of the end of affirmative action (AA) policy and practices across the country. I am a strong believer in racial equality and cultural diversity, and AA is the wrong approach.
Advancing Some at the Expense of Others, Based on Race
AA was originally created to provide equal opportunity for all qualified persons. It has been reduced nowadays to a mere vehicle towards greater diversity on superficial levels, at the sacrifice of other principles that make America a great nation, including equality and fairness for all.
AA has evolved into a great irony in American life: To strengthen some groups’ ability for social mobility, other groups have to yield, stop, or be run over. In college admissions, affirmative action practices have created reverse discrimination for white Americans and blatant racism against Asian Americans.
Supporters of the policy often deny the presence of racial quotas when colleges use AA in admissions, but given the limited seats available, members of some groups are pushed aside to allow others in. Elite colleges want us to believe it is not a zero-sum game, but it is.
When race is used in admission decisions, it creates at best an illusion of diversity. Diversity should be a quality, not just a quantity. At its worst, such artificially created diversity sets one race against another and therefore loses its ability to enhance racial harmony. Instead, it breeds resentment and hostility.
AA is hitting Asian Americans especially hard. Many Asian American families focus on using schooling to achieve social mobility, but when Asian American students have high test scores, some admissions officers paint them as nerds who do not have leadership skills and do not care about community service. Getting a good grade, which in many cases reflects self-discipline, hard work, and a culture of growth, sometimes instead defines Asian students as less capable of anything else, which is not true.
AA is also misguided, as it could favor a rich black doctor’s kids at the expense of a poor Asian kid. It could push back a kid from a struggling white family to give way to a Latino banker’s kid. No, universities would argue, we do not only look at race. Admission preferences are “holistic.”
Unfortunately, holistic admission can be easily used as an excuse to justify stricter criteria for Asian Americans, and the term carries the hidden bias that Asians are less holistic as human beings. Nothing reinforces stereotypes more than AA policies in this day and age.
Every Single Racial Group Has Faced Discrimination
Supporters of AA policy may have the good intention of providing remedies for past wrongs and injustices such as slavery. However, I do not see why we should ignore other wrongs different people groups have suffered.
Japanese Americans may have grandfathers and grandmothers thrown into concentration camps in World War II. Vietnamese Americans may come from families whose homes were burned to the ground from air-dropped bombs.
Then there are descendants of Chinese railroad workers, and those who were denied employment due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. The political weaponization of history cherry picks which historical injustices to care about, instead of supporting equality and justice for all. It’s time to stop such condescending “favors.” Focus instead on creating a fair environment for each racial or ethnic group to thrive.
AA is the least American of all contemporary policies. It is more reminiscent of the planning economy of communist countries, where the ruling classes get to allocate resources based on their decisions about what their countries and people need.
AA is the racism of the 21st century. Caught in the crossfire in America’s war of races, Asians sometimes become easy losers. AA abounds in hidden racial biases against groups it ostensibly tries to help.
It’s Bigoted to Assume People Can’t Achieve Due to Race
AA supporters act as if they do not believe that each race has an equal chance of nurturing smart kids to compete at the same level. It is a supremacy mindset for AA supporters of a majority group to assume certain minority groups cannot compete using the same criteria.
Supporters often worry that, if America abolishes AA, elite colleges and organizations may be overrun with Asian students and become immediately inaccessible to certain other groups. In the short term, this may happen, as AA has become a crutch for some groups at some institutions. When crutches are removed, people often wobble. However, social dynamics will cause things to self-balance in the long run, creating true and organic diversity.
It is a better idea to provide additional resources at the K-12 level, so that all children from disadvantaged backgrounds are not held back, as minors are less capable of helping themselves. However, at the college level and beyond, intrinsic factors are greater factors for success of failure.
Rather than administering AA during college admission, job placement, or even grant applications, focus more on fighting inequality in elementary school. When basic educational needs are met earlier, social mobility depends more on one’s grit, effort, motivation, and many other factors that are not distributed along racial or ethnic lines.
AA creates a fixed mindset that because one is born into a specific group, one is entitled to certain privileges such as lowered criteria. Such thinking weakens the competitiveness of the groups it seeks to help, builds barriers for other groups, and creates tensions between groups. It is time for Americans to bury this dated and counterproductive policy.
Note: This article was originally published in Abilene Reporter News. It has been updated for The Federalist, and is reprinted with permission.