A new case against the controversial policy known as affirmative action is set to be heard by the Supreme Court in the next few years or so. With the educational initiative all but certain to be ruled on by a new, and more conservative Supreme Court, it makes sense that we take a look at the key players and understand what is at stake with the issue.
Before I begin, I recommend that everyone takes a look at the Netflix series The Patriot Act from Hasan Minhaj. The first episode is entitled Affirmative Action is goes into detail about the issue. I will say that he is in favor of affirmative action so for those that are not, then it may not be your cup of tea. I still recommend it for both sides as he talks about the history of the Asian American community and how affirmative action once helped them in the early years of its existence.
Now let’s begin;
The most recent affirmative action case is being brought forth by conservative strategist and president of Students for Fair Admissions, Edward Blum. If that names sounds familiar it is because this is not the first time Blum has sued the government to dismantle affirmative action (he’s kinda the Scott Pruitt of education). Blum was the financial backer of Abigal Fisher, a white woman who sued the University of Texas for racial discrimination. We at Supplierty News have already debunked the legitimacy of the case in a podcast, which you can listen to HERE, where we found that around 90% of the students accepted that had lower grades then Fisher were also white.
After the loss, Blum basically re-calibrated his strategy and is now using Asian Americans to try and eliminate affirmative action from the educational system. Actively supporting his most recent lawsuit is “the Asian American Coalition for Education, which filed federal complaints in 2015 alleging discrimination. The coalition’s president is Yukong Zhao, a corporate strategist who immigrated to the U.S. from China in 1992 to pursue a master’s degree in business.”
The fact that Zhao is Chinese is a key to the affirmative action case. According to Voa News, “others in the Asian community say that a race-blind process relying solely on academic scores would also hurt Asian-Americans. Southeast Asians, for example, who largely came over as refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, are underrepresented in higher education.”
“The narrative right now is very focused on a very specific segment within the Asian-American community that does not represent the larger Asian-American community,’’ said Quyen Dinh, executive director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.
In looking at the Asian American community, the population consists of 18 million people from about 20 countries. “Chinese-Americans are the largest sub-group with at least 4.3 million people, followed by Indian-Americans at 4 million and Filipino-Americans at 3 million.”
When looking at education within the community, about 75% of Indians hold a bachelor’s degree or higher while “only 16 percent of Laotians and 20 percent of Cambodians had done so. Among Chinese, the figure is 55 percent.” It is not wonder that the two biggest supporters of dismantling affirmative action are Chinese and Indian.
Despite the push to eliminate the policy, it’s not clear how much of an impact it will have on Asians in college acceptance. Despite an emphasis being put on race and grades, that isn’t the only thing colleges look at during freshman or new student selection. Even when taking this in to account, while Asian-Americans are about 6 percent of the U.S. population, they “make up nearly 23 percent of this year’s freshman class at Harvard, 22 percent of the same class at Princeton, and are the fastest growing minority in the country.” This is nearly 4x their population makeup within the US!
Regardless of what happens, I do believe that affirmative action will eventually be eliminated. While I’m not sure when, I do think the idea of affirmative action is heading south despite the policy actually being a good one. Affirmative action simply ensures that colleges don’t refuse to take a look at applicants from areas with high minority populations. Still, even with its elimination I’m not convinced that it will change the process of education applications especially since the numbers at Harvard, for example, are already heavily leaning towards one group.