Asian Americans and Affirmative Action in the Post-Fisher Era

Jun 28, 2016 by

The way members of the ‘model minority’ are treated in elite-college admissions could affect race-based standards moving forward.

Alia Wong –

In his new book, Earning Admission: Real Strategies for Getting Into Highly Selective Colleges, the strategist Greg Kaplan urges Asians not to identify as such on their applications. “Your child should decline to state her background if she identifies with a group that is overrepresented on campus even if her name suggests affiliation,” he advises parents, also referencing Jews. Such tips are increasingly common in the college-advising world; it’s not unusual for consultants, according to The Boston Globe, to urge students to “deemphasize the Asianness” in their resumes or avoid writing application essays about their immigrant parents “coming from Vietnam with $2 in a rickety boat and swimming away from sharks.”

It’s sad that this is what elite-college admissions have come to: a soul-deadening process that encourages students to distort their identities solely for the sake of getting in. But the rampant racism to which these pointers allude, if real, is even sadder. According to some activists, brilliant, accomplished, and well-rounded Asian students are consigned to gaming a system that’s rigged against them. Either that, or they have to prove themselves extra brilliant, extra accomplished, and extra well-rounded to ensure they’re on equal footing with non-Asian applicants. The premise is that affirmative action enables colleges and universities to discriminate against Asian applicants simply because there are so many of them on campus already.

Some Asian Americans have had a beef with race-conscious admissions for decades. Traditionally one of affirmative action’s biggest beneficiaries—so much so that the practice originally contributed to their reputation as the “model minority”—Asian Americans started to turn against it once they were no longer considered underrepresented. They’ve since been inundated with stories about prodigiously accomplished Asians being rejected from top schools. Today, they’ve in many ways become the face of the anti-affirmative action movement.

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin, a decision many observers described as “a victory for affirmative action.” For many Asian Americans who would like the admissions process to be more colorblind, though, the fight is far from over. Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin, they argue, only scraped the surface of a much deeper, much more insidious problem: the exclusion of deserving Asian Americans from higher education.

But it’s far from clear that race-conscious admissions policies actually put the so-called “model minority” at a disadvantage. Nor is it clear that Asians and affirmative action are the foes that the headlines and lawsuits and petitions make them out to be.

Source: Asian Americans and Affirmative Action in the Post-Fisher Era – The Atlantic

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