Affirmative Action: When class is not enough

Photo credit: LA Times
Photo credit: LA Times

Over the last two weeks, I’ve written a series of posts about affirmative action initiated by the fight over SCA5, a bill that would have amended the California constitution to repeal Prop 209 for public education and restore narrow considerations of race to the college admissions process as part of holistic review of qualified applicants. SCA5 was withdrawn after backlash from Asian American voters, but the fight over the morality of race-based affirmative action rages on — particularly in the comments section of my posts, where I’ve been privileged to host several forums to encourage further discussion on this subject.

One significant point of contention is the use of race vs. class in affirmative action. Whereas some SCA5 opponents have lobbed radically non-factual charges against race-based affirmative action, others are more moderate in their counter arguments; they assert that whereas use of race-based information is discriminatory, class-based affirmative action is a reasonable alternative.

And, indeed, the fight over race vs. class-based affirmative action has persisted in liberal circles for years; most recently, support of class-based affirmative action was cited as part of Tanner Colby’s diatribe against race-based affirmative action in Slate.

The focus on class-based affirmative action is appealing to some liberals precisely because it rejects the unseemly conversations of race that can force a conversation on White privilege. Instead, it blames minority underachievement on classism, not racism, and leaves liberals comfortably in support of increased state spending on social services. Tacitly, they argue, if poor minorities can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps after we address the impacts of their poverty, their failures must then be their fault. In short, arguments in support of class-based affirmative action is viewed as a panacea for social iniquity, with a concurrent, explicit denial of any further impact of institutional racism on underrepresented minority students.

Ironically, the UC system under Prop 209 provides the perfect counter-argument to these charges. California’s public education system, with its late-90’s rejection of race-based admissions, provide the ideal demonstration of the inadequacies of purportedly “colour-blind” admissions policies that engage in class-based affirmative action in the absence of racial consideration.

Or, as Scot Nakagawa points out, post-Prop 209 college admissions in the UC system demonstrate that “in a racially inequitable society, color blind solutions end up reflecting that inequitable context and often even contributes to its perpetuation.”

The logic is actually fairly straightforward. If, as class-based affirmative action supporters argue, the sole cause for academic underachievement in minority communities is based on disparities in income level, then “color-blind” class-based affirmative action should alone be sufficient to adjust for these disparities, resulting in similar admission rates between URM and non-URM applicant groups after holistic review even in the absence of racial consideration.

Yet, as I published last week, the effect of eliminating race-based affirmative action resulted in an immediate drop in admission rates for Black, Chicano and Native American students between 1997 and 1998.

Effect of Prop 209 on UC admission rates by race.
Effect of Prop 209 on UC admission rates by race.
As you can see, Prop 209 had negligible impacts on White and Asian American admission to the UC system. It had the most dramatic effect -- a nearly 10-point drop -- in Black, Chicano, and Native American admissions.
As you can see, Prop 209 had negligible impacts on White and Asian American admission to the UC system. It had the most dramatic effect — a nearly 10-point drop — in Black, Chicano, and Native American admissions.

The immediate drop in admission rate for URM students under “colour-blind” class-based affirmative action is striking, and can only be explained by two general possibilities:

  • The model of minority pathology: In a model where a significantly higher fraction of URM applicants are deficient or underqualified in some way outside of the effects of class, we would expect URM students to have lower admission rates than Whites or Asians. Perhaps it is a cultural focus on academics, the argument goes, or the increased work ethic of Asian kids; either way, the argument boils down to this: class-based affirmative action approaches an objective meritocracy, and a higher fraction of URM kids just don’t cut it because there’s something inadequate about them. We’ll call this theory the “Triple Package” Model.
  • Class-based affirmative action cannot alone adjust for the disparities associated with race and racism: In this model, URM students are culturally and biologically as intellectually capable as their non-URM counterparts, but academically disadvantaged by the (inextricably entangled) effects of both class and race. Thus, class-based affirmative action practiced in the absence of racial consideration is an imperfect adjustment that fails to consider the full (and typically overlapping) impacts of both class and race on a minority kid’s college portfolio. Consequently, the absence of racial consideration impacts URM kids even when disparities in socioeconomic status (SES) are adjusted for.
Amy Chua's latest tome, "The Triple Package" asserts that some ethnicities are more scholastically successful due to cultural traits that promote success. Photo credit: The Guardian.
Amy Chua’s latest tome, “The Triple Package” asserts that some ethnicities are more scholastically successful due to cultural traits that promote success. Photo credit: The Guardian.

The “Triple Package” Model appears distasteful to consider, yet this is the core assertion — if unadorned by euphemism — of those who would have us focus on the Asian American exceptional work ethic contrasted against the uncommitted nature of their Black peers. To challenge this conclusion, we must ask ourselves if the science reveals any obvious cultural or racial gaps in educational commitment or work ethic  between minority and non-minority students, that persist beyond the effects of class.

As it turns out, the myth of minority pathology has been repeatedly demonstrated as just that: a myth. In fact, there is very little evidence to support any sort of racial or cultural rejection of academic pursuits among minority students. In this 1998 study by Ainsworth-Darnell and Downey, investigators found that Black students expressed equal or greater commitment to educational pursuits compared to both White and Asian American peers. In this 2007 article by Charles et al, the gap in parental investment between Black and White families is entirely attributable to disparities in parental income and education; the authors note that according to their data, parental investment would be equal across the races if all families had equal access to equal resources. They write:

With the exception of immigrant Hispanics, gaps in cultural capital [Jenn’s note: extracurricular activities that promote learning; e.g. museum visits] are completely accounted for when background disparities are controlled. Nearly half of the gaps in school parental involvement and household educational items are explained for African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics, and disparities in the likelihood of saving for college early either disappear or actually reverse direction — suggesting that, given equal resources, there is no difference for most groups. Black parents are actually more likely to invest early in the future education of their children relative to white parents.

It is also worth noting that in this same study, the authors conclude that the “high achievement” of children of Asian American families can — in the aggregate — be almost entirely accounted for through the combination of 1) our high median family income, and 2) the opportunities afforded by having parents with significantly higher parental education levels relative to other racial groups; both situations are most predominantly found among first-generation Chinese American and South Asian American immigrant families. And, not coincidentally, these are the two ethnic Asian American groups who are demographically “overrepresented” on UC college campuses.

The story for Asian American students is distinct, and thus worth noting. The Asian advantage in parental expectations, cultural capital, and saving money for college relative to whites is partially or entirely explained by background attributes and, most likely, the higher educational training of Asian parents.

Sadly, as with most studies, the data are not disaggregated to consider Southeast Asian or Pacific Islander families, where parental education is not typically high given low overall secondary education rates. Either way, the point here is that Asian American achievement is not a straightforward result of Asian American cultural or racial exceptionalism; instead it arises as a combination of Asian American discipline and opportunity. Thus, these data would assert the achievement gap between Asian Americans and non-Asian minorities is due primarily to absence of the latter — the resources associated with economic and educational opportunity — and not a cultural absence of the former.

And just this week, the Monthly Labor Review published a research article by Luo and Holden that challenged the notion that African American families are less culturally invested in secondary education for their children: upon controlling for SES, there was no notable difference in either college enrollment or degree of educational expenditures between Black, Latino, Asian or White families.

Given these data (and many more supporting studies), it becomes clear that minority students are not pathologically unqualified students who simply prefer to focus their attention in non-academic pursuits. Given a level playing field, the science tells us that minority students can and will achieve.


Yet, despite their clear racial and cultural commitment to education, minority students are still admitted to the UC system under class-based affirmative action at lower rates than their White and Asian peers. What explains this admissions gap?

Well, quite simply: class-based affirmative action alone does not adjust the playing field; something else is at play — racism. According to our second model, we should be able to identify examples where race and racism impact educational success even when class disparities are neutralized. And, while such situations are far harder to quantify, there are indeed some studies that have pointed to just such impacts of race and racism. I have cited an anecdotal example of a school district in Virginia that constituted of three separate high schools — one predominantly White, one predominantly Black, and one mixed — covering several single- or mixed-race neighbourhoods. Despite being funded by a common pool of state and local taxpayer money, investments in academic and extracurricular classes were widely disparate in this school district: whereas the White school received the lion’s share of funding, the quality of education and extracurricular activities were far more limited at the predominantly Black school. While this is a compelling example of internalized racism at the school board level manifesting in unequal distribution of academic resources, can we find more scientific examples of racial bias impacting K-12 education and achievement?

In his 2005 article, Thomas Dee reviewed the data showing an alarming impact of internalized racial bias in teacher attitudes towards same vs. other-race students, even within a single mixed race classroom. Citing a 1979 study, Dee recounts how White teachers are more likely to view Black students negatively and set lower expectations for them, compared to Black teachers. Later, Dee reviews a study wherein White and Black students were randomly assigned to classrooms with same- or other-race teachers; in this experiment, Black students performed better on tests when paired with same-race teachers. Subsequently, Dee presents his own data, which quantified several examples of teacher bias within the classroom; for example, a White teacher is 1.4 times more likely to view a Black student as disruptive, unruly, or inattentive compared to a White student.


Given these internalized biases, it is perhaps not surprising therefore that as Black students progress through public education, they routinely are shuffled away from academically rigorous tracks or are not challenged to excel at scholastic endeavours. Instead, according to a recent federal report, minority students are far more likely than their White peers to be academically disciplined or punished, to receive these punitive measures routinely and repeatedly, and to be disproportionately subjected to these treatments as early as preschool. From the report summary:

 “This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed.  This Administration is moving aggressively to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in order to ensure that all of our young people have equal educational opportunities.”

…The data released today reveals particular concern around discipline for our nation’s young men and boys of color, who are disproportionately affected by suspensions and zero-tolerance policies in schools. Suspended students are less likely to graduate on time and more likely to be suspended again. They are also more likely to repeat a grade, drop out, and become involved in the juvenile justice system.

It is important to consider these data alongside the several studies I cited earlier dismantling the myth of Black pathology. This federal report does not suggest that Black students are more disruptive than non-Black peers; rather, consistent with everything presented thus far, they are punished more harshly than other students when they express childhood or adolescent behaviours that would be seen as acceptable or routine among other students.

This racial bias extends, also, to Latino and Pacific Islander students.

The 2011-2012 release shows that access to preschool programs is not a reality for much of the country. In addition, students of color are suspended more often than white students, and black and Latino students are significantly more likely to have teachers with less experience who aren’t paid as much as their colleagues in other schools.

The 2011-12 school year was the first time the CRDC collected data on preschool discipline and the first year that all public schools reported data separately for Native-Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. As a result, the CRDC shows that racial disparities in discipline begin in the early years of schooling: Native-Hawaiian/Pacific Islander kindergarten students are held back a year at nearly twice the rate of white kindergarten students.

What’s the take-home message? In a nutshell, in addition to class disparities, minority students must pursue their education in a society that views them as unruly, disruptive, and even criminal. Rather than to invest in their education through attention and motivation, schools treat Black, Latino, and Pacific Islander students (and likely other URM) to inordinately low expectations and absurdly high academic discipline rates. These biases manifest in the classroom at virtually every level of K-12 education, and even as early as preschool.

In short, if you’re a 16 year old White or East Asian kid, the world treats you like you belong in school; if you’re a 16 year old Black or Latino kid, the world treats you like you belong in jail.

And, that happens regardless of your family’s income level.

But, in truth, this article has approached the division between race and class as if they could be separated; the reality is that they cannot be. That 81% of Asian American students are enrolled in high schools where they have full access to math and science courses, compared to only 57% of Black students, 67% of Latino students and 63% of students with disabilities may be a consequence of class disparities, but it is a class disparity that is itself informed by the influences of race, racial stereotypes, and racism.

The “Triple Package” argument might largely assert that these racial obstacles can be overcome by a little spit-shine and gumption. It is 2014, after all right?

Photo credit: 18MillionRising

But, that’s right — it’s 2014. It’s only 2014. We are a mere 50 years from Brown v. Board of Education. There are many Black people alive today who have experienced the insidiousness of Jim Crow racism first-hand. We are a mere 150 years — five or six generations at most — from chattel slavery, and the enforced illiteracy of Black slaves involved therein. Is it reasonable to expect African Americans to have circumvented the devastating, dehumanizing impacts of slavery, Emancipation, and Jim Crow segregation on education and achievement? Or, is it, as Ta-Nehisi Coates puts it, a prime example of the expectation of the Black superhuman?

The ultimate goal of race-based affirmative action is not to base college admissions decisions exclusively on race, but it is to incorporate race as one of hundreds of factors considered in holistic review. The purpose of race-based affirmative action is not to subject applicants to racial consideration for the first time in their educational journeys. In short, the idea is not to introduce discrimination based on race; it is to acknowledge that students are already discriminated based on race. It is to acknowledge that students have been tacitly subjected to racial consideration — and consequent bias —  long before they made it to the college admissions step, and as far back as when they first entered a classroom; or perhaps, even further back, since the inception of this country. We need race-based affirmative action to empower admissions officers to acknowledge and affirmatively address — narrowly, true, but perhaps for the first time in a minority high school student’s life — the demonstrable, pre-existing negative impact(s) of race and racism that is a fact of their day-to-day lives.

We’ve seen in California what happens when we don’t consider race in college admissions: we invite a system that disproportionately denies access to minority students, and then we invent purported inadequacies to rationalize that denial so that we might sustain a society of widespread second-class citizenry. This is the legacy of how minority scholars — Black, Latino, and yes, even Asian Americans — have been historically shut-out of institutions of higher education for over a century.

Yes, it’s 2014. We deserve better. We deserve a system that values the intellect of Black, Latino, Native American, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander students. We deserve a system that opens the door of the Ivory Tower to all.

And, that system fails when it pretends it can be race-blind in a racist world.

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  • censored (formerly known as crazy MMer)

    Let me start out by responding that I absolutely agree with you 110% that the US education system and society is totally discriminatory and racist against your URM AND Asian Americans – since you can easily see from recent reports that Asian kids are the highest rates of being bullied.

    And I’ve stated it before that you should go after white privilege – which is the group that increased the most in admissions to the UCs after prop 209 passed. Therefore it makes no sense you’re going after Asians.

    Now as to the two main points your article that’s rather disingenuous:

    1) Amy Chua’s “Triple Package” also includes Cubans and Nigerian immigrants, who are considered Latinos and African-Americans, correct? There are also studies that show African and Afro-Carribean immigrants are actually the “model minorities” with the highest rates of college graduates than every other group.

    Therefore, the statistics needs to be broken down better to really model your beloved “URM” kids to get a fair shake at education instead of you blanket generalizations for groups based on skin color, EXCEPT for Asians that you then brake down by ethnicity in order to dismiss Chinese/Korean/Indian American concerns…

    2) Conflating K-12 data with UC admissions politics is really disingenuous. Of course public education in the US is a sham and of course overhauls need to be made (which the Democrats have been lagging on also), and the social factors of racism towards your URM are major concerns.

    HOWEVER, given the fact that Asian kids are the highest bullied percentages and white privilege is your real enemy, your posts on implying how Chinese Americans are heartless and overly privileged is simply offputting.

    AGAIN, focus on white privilege as the real enemy instead of dismissing Asian and Chinese American concerns.

  • Crazy,

    First of all — why are you censored now?

    Second, I think you’ve missed the point of the entire debate. Affirmative action doesn’t “go after” anyone. I still don’t get why you contextualize the debate that way.

    1) Amy Chua’s “Triple Package” also includes Cubans and Nigerian immigrants, who are considered Latinos and African-Americans, correct? There are also studies that show African and Afro-Carribean immigrants are actually the “model minorities” with the highest rates of college graduates than every other group.

    Yeah, I know. The “Triple Package” crack is a joke. It’s intended to invoke the similar “cultural traits” argument. It’s not intended to be a direct review of the book itself.

    But, either way, I think you’ve missed the point of the article, given your comment on that.

    HOWEVER, given the fact that Asian kids are the highest bullied percentages and white privilege is your real enemy, your posts on implying how Chinese Americans are heartless and overly privileged is simply offputting.

    I’m almost positive that the bullying stat, while quite important (and a subject of a later post), has virtually nothing to do with this debate; and even if it did, you’re not properly interpreting it.

    your posts on implying how Chinese Americans are heartless and overly privileged is simply offputting.

    I can’t help it if some Chinese Americans invoke some pretty heartless arguments.

  • Poon

    Dee recounts how White teachers are more likely to view Black students negatively and set lower expectations for them

    Sadly this happens across the US. According to the book The Smartest Kids in the World, teachers in the US profile their students in detail and treat the students differently based on their family income, education background, and races. This seems warm and fuzzy, but in reality stereotyping and labeling happen to kids when they enter kindergarten. It’s like saying to the kids “you’re poor, you’re an immigrant, you’re black, your parents do not have great education, so it’s okay to achieve less”. This is in huge contrast to Finland. The attitude of the teachers there is that I’ll subject you to the same standards as I do the other students, regardless of your background. Empathy and sympathy in are harmful. And we all know how Finnish kids beat American kids hands down in all kinds of academic evaluations.

  • Leon


    The paper by Charles et al. is simply great, especially Table 5 in that paper (I wish there are ways to publish that table freely). Table 5 shows many very interesting data. First, for students with similar family social and economical backgrounds, black students are far more likely to attend 4 year college than Asian with US born mother and Hispanic with US born mother. I don’t think the authors talked about whether race-based AA is used among the surveyed students but I would naively assume that is the case here. These data suggests that, under a race-and-class-combined AA system, Asian (yes, surprisingly) and Hispanic with US born mother need a major boost. But, do we really want a micromanagement system like that in college admission?

    Second, after accounting for a host of social economic and educational investment factors, Asian with immigrant mother remain to be far more likely to attend 4 year college than any other students. You have repeatedly suggested the success of Asian students is largely due to their family background but the data here clearly debunk that. Doesn’t this suggest there is something unique with these Asian immigrant family? Maybe these immigrant Asian parents do put more effort in pushing their kids academic excellence? California is a state with a lot of first generation Asian immigrants and they might be attributing a lot to the overwhelm Asian students in UC. Is a procedure designed to use race to directly reduce the number of these students really fair?

    I really hope similar data in California exist, so that everyone can make a really informed decision on what is causing the achieve gap and what really needs to be done.

  • @Leon

    I’m pretty sure you’re making a biased reading of Charles et al. and that you’re reading Table 5 wrong. Since the author is using a regression model to correct both for SES and family structure, the resulting data can only be used as a comparison of the effect of those things that you have regressed for. It does NOT tell us about external uncontrolled factors, like affirmative action. The appropriate meaningful comparison is not necessarily group-to-group after the regression (which can be impacted by artifacts associated with the strength of the model), but the total effect of the regression vs. the pre-regressed numbers. In short, this is the what the data tell us:

    Parental income and education exhibit strong, positive effects on the likelihood of college attendance, regardless of type of attendance, while having siblings and non-traditional parenting structures exert a negative influence.

    Next time, I would suggest you read the discussion associated with the data.

    Re: Asian with immigrant mothers, this is also in the discussion of the data. The take-home message is that Asian students with immigrant mothers have high parental education, high parental expectations, low parental involvement, but appear in this dataset to be significantly advantaged over being in a single-student two-parent household, a family structure circumstance that these studies show are the most strong correlation for student success. It has nothing to do with effort — in fact these data show that immigrant parents are LESS involved or engaged in their kids’ work vs US-born parents.

    Again, next time, I would suggest you read the discussion fully; the best expert on what a scientist’s data say are typically the scientist him or herself. Anything you think his or her data might say are typically things he or she have already thought of.

  • pzed

    I agree w/ Jenn for the most part here. SES, income and parental involvement can’t account for the difference. But I don’t think that discriminatory attitude can account for all of it either. Here’s the data for the PISA tests for 2012. The national rankings did not change wildly since the last round of PISA tests, indicating that these are unlikely to be random results.

    OECD average 496

    Shanghai-China 570

    Asian Americans 550

    Hong Kong-China 545
    Singapore 542
    Japan 538
    Korea, Republic of 536
    Finland 524
    Ireland 523
    Chinese Taipei 523
    Canada 523

    White Americans 519

    Poland 518

    Multiracial Americans 517

    Estonia 516
    Liechtenstein 516
    New Zealand 512
    Australia 512
    Netherlands 511
    Belgium 509
    Switzerland 509
    Macao-China 509
    Vietnam 508
    Germany 508
    France 505
    Norway 504
    United Kingdom 499
    United States 498
    Denmark 496
    Czech Republic 493
    Italy 490
    Austria 490
    Latvia 489
    Hungary 488
    Spain 488
    Luxembourg 488
    Portugal 488
    Israel 486
    Croatia 485
    Sweden 483
    Iceland 483
    Slovenia 481

    Hispanic Americans 478

    Lithuania 477
    Greece 477
    Turkey 475
    Russian Federation 475
    Slovak Republic 463
    Cyprus 449
    Serbia, Republic of 446

    African Americans 443

    United Arab Emirates 442
    Chile 441
    Thailand 441
    Costa Rica 441
    Romania 438
    Bulgaria 436
    Mexico 424
    Montenegro, Republic of 422
    Uruguay 411
    Brazil 410
    Tunisia 404
    Colombia 403
    Jordan 399
    Malaysia 398
    Indonesia 396
    Argentina 396
    Albania 394
    Kazakhstan 393
    Qatar 388
    Peru 384

    I don’t know that institutional American racism can explain worldwide results. Speaking in generalities, East Asians score higher than others. Europeans score in a broad range in the middle, and Southeast Asians, South Americans and Middle Easterners score lower. Some specific results may not line up with groups in the US compared their ancenstral nations. Indian Americans for instance score quite well in the US (in general – it’s not indicated in this particular test), but India dropped out of PISA testing in 2012 because the last round of testing indicated that the most advanced province in India had vert poor scores. That seems to indicate there’s a selection process where Indians that make it to the US are different from the average population in their ancestral nation. For East Asians, that selection process may also be present, but the difference in scores isn’t as obvious. I realize that the category Asian Americans puts all Asians together, but I don’t think it completely invalidates the information.

  • Leon


    I know how to read statistical data. I probably jumped the gun a little bit when talking about the race-and-class-AA issue, but their data does suggest such a possibility. Of course, there are many other factors affecting college attendance not accounted for in this study, but as I said before, more data like these is necessary for real informed decision and would benefit everyone.

    With regard to Asian with immigrant mothers, their models were designed specifically to answer the question on how much the college attending inequality is due to family backgrounds and other factors. When considering race alone (model 1), Asian with immigrant mother is more likely to attend 4 year college than white, with a coefficient of 1.517*. After account for those family background factors (model 2), including income, parental degree, family structure (single parent, number of siblings), etc., Asian with immigrant mother remains to be favored, with a coefficient of 1.487*. Did you see how small a difference between these two? Additional factors such as early educational investment and late educational investment still can’t explain the difference between Asian with immigrant mother and white (coefficients: 1.315*, 1.556*). Comes directly from the lion’s mouth:

    our evidence points to (1) a net advantage in 4-year college attendance for both African-Americans and foreign-born Hispanics and Asians, and (2) elimination or substantial reduction of Native American and native-born Hispanic disadvantage, respectively, relative to white students once baseline economic disparities are accounted for.

    Simply put, there are something to the academic achievement of Asian with immigrant mother that can’t be explained by economic factors or family structures.

    The paper is of tremendous value to me. I came to this country after I got my mater’s degree in China. I have absolutely zero idea on how the high school system is run in this country. It is simply impossible, at least at this point, for me to help my son plan his high school, or for that matter college. It does suggest me to look into this and get myself more prepared. The paper also shows immigrant Asian parents have less school involvement than white. Part of this is because a lot of Asian parents are both working full time. I could be wrong but certinaly believe double income families would have less school involvement.

    I have tried to avoid the discussion about family structure. But many Asian families make the conscious decision to have only one kid for educational benefits. And this is somehow confirmed in Charles et al.’s paper. Do we really want a policy in college admission to correct this? Are you saying that, in order to have a larger share in college education, go raise more kids?

  • pzed

    Just listened to the newest Intelligence Squared episode that debated the statement: Affirmative action on campus does more harm than good.

    It was a well reasoned and civil debate throughout and considered points that I had heard before but hadn’t realized were well studied. It briefly mentions Prop 209, but did not dwell on the subject.

    You can listen here:

  • ProudUC84


    Effect-Cause cannot be correlated. Does low rates of high school graduation cause schools to be bad? Is low rates of imprisonment of Asians mean Asians are of higher character, or getting a unfair advantage in the criminal-justice system?

    There are 2 Asians in the NBA. Is the NBA racist?
    There are less than 10 of nearly 3000 NFL players who are Asians. NFL Racist?
    0.1% of college athletic scholarship are given to Asians. No wonder there’s hardly any Asians in NFL, NBA. College Athletics are grossly racist against Asians.

    Effect indicates cause?

    Certainly certain groups are underrepresented at CA colleges. Is this caused by racial discrimination? Are those groups subject to a higher standard of success to gain entry? THAT would be discriminatory.

    Maybe Asian players ought to get extra points if make a hoop in the NBA. Asian touchdowns be worth 8 points in NFL. Maybe at the Olympics, Asians be given a 10 yard head start in the 100M race. These would make sports fairer for Asians.

    Rather than focus on effect, Mr. Hernandez ought to focus on cause. Causes such as awful school funding for k-12, lack of AP classes at poorer school districts, help for poor families to attend college. Instead he focuses on the superficial. Racism is based on pre-judging others based on superficial attributes. So, SCA5 is racist by definition.

    Mr. Hernandez also misrepresents the facts.

    FACT: UC attendance rate for Blacks have remained the same since Prop 209, and did not go down as he claims.

    FACT: Total number of underrepresented students have gone up since prop 209

    FACT: Number of UC students from low income and lower educational backgrounds have shot up since Prop 209 and now comprise 40% of the students.

    FACT: Black and Latino graduation rates have gone UP since Prop209. Previously graduation rates were 1/2 that of White students.

    Asians have historically been the most discriminated group in CA. SCA5 is in the long tradition of fending off the Yellow Peril in California.

  • Hi Proud –

    Please read this post and then we can chat!


  • New PISA results are out. The rank order of nations is again… not especially surprising if you’ve followed the results from previous years’ testing in math and reading.

    Generally speaking, East Asians score higher, Euros score in a broad range in the middle, and South Americans and Southeast Asians score lower.

    you can try some of the test questions here:

    So again, the issue of some groups doing better than others seems to be a bigger issue than is allowed by US progressives. It’s seems rather unlikely that racism can account for worldwide results that appear similar to group results we see here in the US.

  • Right, pzed, because comparing the test scores across different countries is clearly evidence of racial differences in student quality and aptitude, necessitating an end to race-based affirmative action. It couldn’t possibly be a test to look at teaching styles and priorities across different countries’ education systems.

    Try again, pzed. That’s not even a remotely reasonable interpretation of what PISA tells us.

  • Keith

    @Jenn, you are starting to sound like me, that’s not good.

  • Poon

    @Jenn, how is this related to south or south-east Asians? Say, Laos. On one hand Laotian American kids are treated just as Asian. Or is this assumption totally wrong? Given average American teacher’s quality, I doubt many of them know or even care about the difference between Laos and other East Asians. On the other hand, are they going to be treated differently from East Asians, if SCA-5 is implemented, when applying to colleges? I’m not challenging your points. Just curious about some details…

  • @Poon – In California, Asian American sub-ethnic demos have been collected since 2005 in admissions, and with repeal of Prop 209, will allow admissions committees to consider SE Asian identity.

  • pzed

    Jenn, if there’s a teaching style that Asian countries employ that can be used to reduce the gap, no one has been able to pinpoint it and replicate it in URMs. And from your own posts, you say that family priority can’t account for the gap. The gap has not changed in about 20 to 25 years after an initial surge for a few decades by blacks after the civil rights movement. If it were still closing, I’d be all for race based AA. But it’s not.

  • It is a lose-lose war to game one race against another. This article went further in justifying a discriminating law that went backward from race-blind. Not just perpetuating discrimination on color like black, national origin like Asian. After taking into socio-economical factors in, the author further attempt to institute a perfect quota system to politically correctly “diversify” this world.

    Now a student’s family bearing and belief should also be a liability. To illustrate the absurdity, let’s imagine our diversifying goddess decided that “Since Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in music family, our system should make sure few of them getting the equal opportunity for a music career. Maybe they are better being the blacksmith, which are rare in them.”

    To key is not a draconian law that adversely impact everyone including some of the “lucky” Asian and other Americans who made through the already handicapped race. Do we want them to further sacrifice everything else to meet a much higher bar than the rest of the protected? It also hurt the ones being “protected”, with a school system that is already limited in resources, enrolling more students that needs help to meet a bar otherwise doesn’t help them succeed in school or career.

    If it is a law in 1930 in Alabama, yes, it is huge a step forward. But in 2016 in California, it is a huge step backwards. We would be perpetuating the discriminating system that hurt everyone just for politicians to score points among short-sighted voters. It tells us that you are always judged by your race, ethnicity, sex, national origin beside your merits. For the things you are born into and you can never change no matter how hard you work.

    Unable to justify, the author further suggest in twitter discussions that people doesn’t agree with SCA5 “basically wash your hands of the modern-day impacts of history”. For all that I’d beg to disagree, “…law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important. — MLK” Will Martin Luther King Jr. perpetuate a lynching law for others just because the black suffered in history? If so, how about the Chinese American and other Asian American being excluded in 1882? All their “crime” is working hard and trying to achieve an American dream in this land.

    The SCA5 is the modern day version of the Chinese (and Asian) Exclusion Act. It just doesn’t pass the duck test. It is not the progressive affirmative action but out and out racial quotas in disguise.

  • Junwei

    You read the wrong books of Amy Chua to understand her intentions. She is a Filipino Chinese and her aunt was murdered by her servants. The Chinese diaspora in a bunch of ASEAN and South East Asia are in her words a dominant market minority who controlls the private sectior. Other dominant market minorities are Jews, Indians, Lebanese,…in some geographic regions of the world who become very rich with their role as trade diasporas. She describes in her book “World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability” the conflict between majority democracy and the dominant market minority which lead to ethnic hate. Economists explains the existence of spectacular sucessful dominant market minorities with culture, geography and colonialpower structures. Because of her family history it is not a suprise that she bring the culturalist mindset with her in her life in the USA. She is also married with a Jewish conservative. This is a very important marriage pattern because the threatened dominant market minorities of Jews and Overseas Chinese have many fears and interests in common.

    Amy Chua confessed in her book “Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance–and Why They Fall” to be an imperialists who believes in the necessity of tolerance and multiculturalism to stay a hyperpower. How does this belief apply in the hyperpower USA ?

    We can measure the effect of the stereotype threat with minimal group experiments in the lab. A disadvantage for minorities with stereotypes attach are certainly there, but there are also an advantage attached with positive stereotypes which influence the results.

    Students do not work and learn for the future as adult as if they calculate the return on investment of education with discounting the net return with an interest rate – instead they have an identity utility of being a child type at home (good child, bad child, average child) and a student type (jocks, burners,…) at school. The identity utility is a function of parental monitoring, teachers and peer group.

    The economists George A. Akerlof and Rachel E. Kranton wrote enough about identity economics and I think you can draw the conclusions what is to be done:

    1) Identity change on the side of the pupils
    2) Identity change on the side of the teachers
    3) Parental Identity change

    @1: We can mix the students with diversity quotas to prevent the negative impacts of peer punishment against striver and reinforce peer cooperation.

    This approach have severe limits even within your belief system of equal opportunity. The peer effects on white and Asian students are externalities. Liberal lawyer who belief in equal opportunity are attached to the idea to mobilize tax dollar to help blacks and put them in white/Asian schools until a equilibrium point where the marginal benefit of better educated blacks equals the diminishment of negative externalities of white/Asian students. From the perspective of the administration every tax dollar spent on black students in education is better as a tax dollar wasted in prison, but only until the equilibrium point of marginal utility.

    @2 Teacher identity

    We can influence the teacher identity if we change the payment scheme and make it depend on average black student performance outcome, but this approach has its limits because it motivates teaching styles for raising test results. Teachers also get an incentive to cheat on test results.

    We can provide black education facilities, but this approach backfires. Because employers will automatically use the school ranking as weak signal to judge job candidates. Black schools could be stereotyped as easy and less challenging.


    We can change parental identity with church work, parents magazines and parental infotainment aand black familiy TV shows. Actually we already do this stuff and the result are not very promising.

    Liberal ideology and equal opportunity cannot correct the effect of racism. The justice as fairness in favor of the worst-off of society cannot help black Americans even if you take the legacies of slavery within the reasoning, because it only notice the concern of the citizen of a nation state. But the USA is a hyperpower with transnational border minorities who are connected through family ties and remittance corridors. If we disaggregate the data of the umbrella identity Asian America and start to talk about Cambodian Americans, Pakistani Americans, folks from Laos,…we have to consider the kinshipof these folk in Asia who do not have the priviledge of US citizenship. These foreign kinship depends on the lifelines of the transnational family income sharing. They are children, elderly people, wifes and parents of these worst-off Asian American groups and immigrants – these groups are left out in the racial discourse of Asian america and API’s. Not even the Pacific Islanders are really mentioned within the cultural dominant groups of Asian American movement.

    If we choose accoring to equality of humans and consider the citizenship priviledge of blacks in comparison to the foreign kinships of worst-off Asian American who do not get access to the welfare state and are fully dependent on the economic fate of their kinship in the USA we have to opt for the worst-off groups of Asian America.

    There is no way to sacrifice our own non-US kinships and our fellow compatriots in the migration sending region and the migration receiving region on both shores of the Pacific. The remittance corridors generates tax dollar on both shores and multiply income in circulation. Blacks are an inner minority and they cannot create jobs within remittance corridors and multiply fiscal income for provision of public goods on both shores of the Pacific.

    We must choose accoring to rule consequentialism if we want a distribution of slots in favour of transnational border and transnational minorities who contributes to greater income equality across the Pacific ocean within the migration corridor such like worst-off Asian american, Mexican Ameerican and other Hispanic American


    if we want to favor priviledged US citizen like blacks and Native Americans.

    Justice and equal opportunity is not only a public good for US citizen alone. All humans are created equal. Of course if Asian American can choose a rule to help reach the goal of more income equality across the different priviledge system of nationality- they have to favor their kinship and their national stock of fellow immigrant cohort.

    India receives 71 billions USD alone in 2013 from its vast diasporas. The US Indian diaspora is the single largest source of remittances. Many starving poor Indians are discriminated because of caste, race and dark skin – they are dependent on government food provision. US Indian diasporas are a major source of foreign currency to pay for the government programs.

    Are the low caste of India who are far longer oppressed and at least as dark than not darker than priviledged black American not worth of our empathy ?

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