Reappropriate: The Podcast – Ep. 3 | #AAPI and affirmative action

August 12, 2014

I’m excited to announce episode #3 of Reappropriate: The Podcast is now live! This week, I invite fellow blogger Byron Wong of to debate the question: Should AAPI support or oppose affirmative action (in college admissions)? It ends up being a really great and lively debate, and includes a good deal of viewer input and participation; I really hope you’ll check out!

You can view the podcast by 1) playing the YouTube above, 2) streaming or downloading the audio in the player below, or 3) subscribing to the podcast through the iTunes store.

Corrections / Further Reading: At some point in the podcast, I start talking about the data by Jennifer Lee looking at parental investment models. Unfortunately, I got my literature somewhat mixed up (and for that I apologize). Jennifer Lee and co-author Min Zhou published an extensive 2014 paper specifically examining the success and cost of the “success frame” of low-income Asian American families. I was confused because it was through Lee that I was connected to two other papers more relevant to the point I’m trying to make in the podcast. In the podcast, I am arguing that African American educational investment is not notably distinct from that of other races, when controlling for family income. The two papers I should have cited were 1) Charles et al’s 2007 paper showing that racial inequalities in college attendance and parental investment are directly related to racial inequalities in class and income, and that controlling such factors eliminates any racial differences in these measures; and 2) Luo and Holden’s 2014 paper showing that college attendance rates are most directly related to parental education level and degree of educational expenditure, the latter of which is most directly related to familial permanent income. Also relevant to the topic at hand is this 1998 study showing that contrary to myth of Black apathy towards academic pursuits, Black students expressed equal or greater commitment to their education compared to White and Asian peers.  I apologize for my repeated brain farts in this podcast when it comes to the literature.

Next Episode: Please join me on August 27th (time: TBA) when I invite guest Juliet Shen (@Juliet_Shen) of Fascinasians to tackle the topic: What is AAPI feminism? You can go here to watch the podcast live during recording, and also submit questions and comments to me via Twitter at @Reappropriate!

Read more: Byron posted about his appearance on this podcast here!

Audio-only version of Episode #3:

  • I wonder if there would be a difference if the question had been worded without the term “other “. ex: “Do you favor or oppose affirmative action programs designed to help minorities, such as blacks and women, get better jobs and education?” (Imagine whatever the grammatically-correct form of that question would have been.)

    This is a good suggestion, and the kind of valid constructive criticism that can be made regarding the survey. This is the kind of thing a peer-reviewer might suggest, and it is something I think you should suggest to Karthick. It would be a good control and something to consider for another iteration of this survey should it ever take place.

  • Shawn

    The question should read something like:

    “Do you favor or oppose affirmative action programs that permit organizations to consider applicants’ race, gender, color, ethnicity, or national origin in admission or hiring decisions?”


    Do you oppose or favor affirmative action programs which discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of employment, public education, or public contracting.”

    No need to go into what AA is designed for. Many would say that it is designed to continue racism. So the question could just as easily be phrased that way.

  • J. Lamb (Snoopy Jenkins)

    @Shawn – Good suggestions, but I fear that your first option above gives no context for affirmative action whatsoever, and would leave respondents without prior knowledge of affirmative action policies bereft. Your second option would needlessly bias respondents with inflammatory language (“…discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to…”).

    If survey respondents were left without any context, how would researchers be sure that those respondents offered an opinion on affirmative action policies, as opposed to something random?

  • Shawn

    Most questions on surveys do not delve into context. My questions explain defines what AA does…

  • Shawn

    “Your second option would needlessly bias respondents with inflammatory language (“…discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to…’)”

    That’s exactly what AA does though.

  • Shawn

    I would be OK with a 3rd option respondents can select:

    “Unsure or ‘I don’t know.”

  • Actually, the only neutral way to define affirmative action is to define what its stated mission is; anything else is asking not what a person’s opinion on the existence of the program is, but to judge its effectiveness. The structure of the question is equivalent to the following:

    Do you support or oppose trucks, which are large vehicles designed to haul items from one point to another?

    This asks whether or not we favour the existence of trucks. Compare that wording to the following:

    Do you support or oppose trucks, which can be used to haul items from one point to another?

    This becomes a leading question that links one’s opinion on trucks not just to whether or not we think the purpose of trucks are useful, but also to whether or not we think trucks are an effective way to accomplish this task.

    If you want to know whether or not the principle of trucks (or affirmative action) is useful, you must ask the question in a way that focuses on what affirmative action’s rationale is, not on how it accomplishes this goal. The latter approach will bias your results towards individual examples of how trucks accomplish their task (or how affirmative action are practiced) rather than on their opinion on trucks (or affirmative action) in general. In short, you are asking a different question.

    Shawn’s questions (specifically the second one) also are too specific and complex. Remember, this is one question out of a hundred that a respondent is responding to over a phone. Simple is always better.

  • Shawn

    “Do you support or oppose trucks, which are large vehicles designed to haul items from one point to another?”


    “If you want to know whether or not the principle of trucks (or affirmative action) is useful, you must ask the question in a way that focuses on what affirmative action’s rationale is, not on how it accomplishes this goal.”

    There is no one way (or no non-subjective way) to define AA’s rational or what it’s designed for; people have contradictory opinions in this regard. So, it’s better to focus on what it actually does.

    Moreover if you believe it’s okay to phrase survey questions in the way you describe (a leading question) questions like this are fair game as well:

    Do you support or oppose race-blind admission policies which are designed to fight racism and ensure equal opportunity?

  • Chr..

    Jenn – Isn’t this a wildcard when it comes to the admissions process for Asians at the universities?

    Many non-Asians in America really see no glaring differences between an Asian Foreign National and Asian person who grew up in the States.

    I spend a lot of time at the universities in NYC. 2 very prestigious schools here in the city. I don’t find many Blacks and Hispanic students. But I do encounter many international students from China and Korea.

  • Pingback: Filipinos are underrepresented at most selective of UC campuses | #BlockBlum #IAmNotYourWedge | Reappropriate()

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