Tag Archives: Jews

No schlemiels here, but are Asian Americans the New Jews in battle over affirmative action? Also: One way to thwart the system

The question is raised once again in the cyclical affirmative action fight in college admissions. Those against affirmative action are saying Jews and Asian Americans have both been victimized  by race-concisous admissions.

That  may be true. But is that a reason to get rid of affirmative action?

One commenter on my sfgate.com blog says that 86 percent of blacks and Latinos who get into exclusive schools are from wealthy backgrounds. I don’t know if that fact is true or not, but what difference does that make?  That’s always been a comeback by affirmative action foes. Poor kids are cool, but don’t give affirmative action to the Cosby kids.

I’d say that the well-to-do blacks and Latinos may even be so-called “legacy” admits, i.e., their parents went to the school. I actually am all for that for minorities. Most of the time, the parents were admitted through a more race-concious process. I don’t have a problem with creating a “legacy of affirmative action” where the off-spring of grads get admitted. It does show, after all, how an institution can change by generation.

What I don’t like is that if you get rid of race-conscious programs, the non-Cosby kids, the ones most deserving of a leg up, may lose that opportunity of a lifetime.

That’s why affirmative action is worth preserving.

There’s one another issue brought up by the the “New Jews” argument. If one makes the case that by experience Asian Americans are like the Jews in terms of discrimination faced in college admissions, can you then say that one’s common experience is valid in defining ethnicity? Considering how self-identification has been a standard in the Census(it’s merely “you are what you say you are,” you don’t have to show me any DNA)  it’s not illogical for Asian Americans to check the box on any form and say they are black, or Latino, or white.

That may be a better way for you anti-Affirmative Action folks to thwart the system. 

I remember reading Dean Henry Rosovsky’s book on Harvard where he said that Filipinos’ experiences were more closely aligned to blacks.

Maybe that’s why when I was at Harvard I felt more comfortable in my Afro American Studies courses than I did in my  Romantic Poets class.

But it may also be why I remain adamant about the need for affirmative action. Asian Americans are far from a homogenous group. Disparities within the group will have a much harder time being addressed if race-concisous admissions are eliminated.