Yesterday, guest writer Felix Huang (@Brkn_Yllw_Lns) wrote an incredible essay for this blog suggesting that in talking to Chinese American opponents of affirmative action, we must reframe the conversation away from self-interest and towards collective morality.
This seems a timely observation since something else also happened yesterday: the Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) — which describes itself as “the proven leader in fighting for Asian-American children’s equal education rights” — announced that it has filed a third complaint against Ivy League universities alleging that the schools’ use of holistic review during college admissions discriminates against Asian American applicants.
Describing the complaint lodged with the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Education at the beginning of August, AACE alleged that Cornell University and Columbia University had discriminated against applicant Hubert Zhao when they did not offer him an acceptance to their schools this past spring. The complaint speculates that Zhao was either the victim of racial discrimination, or of political retaliation; Hubert also happens to be the son of AACE president, YuKong Zhao.
Less than one week after an Asian American group (comprised of predominantly Chinese American organizations) announced that they had filed a complaint to the Department of Education against Yale University, Brown University and Dartmouth College alleging anti-Asian bias in the school’s admissions policies, the national AAPI civil rights community has responded with a clear message: these conservative Chinese American opponents of affirmative action do not speak for all us.
Today, over 150 of the nation’s AAPI civil rights organizations came together in an open letter of support for the continuation of race-conscious affirmative action. In recognition of the critical role that race-sensitive admissions has played — and continues to play — in creating access to higher education for underrepresented groups, our community’s civil rights institution has reaffirmed our unwavering defense for classroom diversity and education access for all.
I can’t believe we’re dealing with this again.
Less than a year after the Department of Education dismissed a frivolous administrative complaint filed by the Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) against Harvard University, the AACE has now announced it will file a nearly identical administrative complaint against Yale University, Brown University and Dartmouth College. In their complaint against Harvard, AACE alleged — absent any significant evidence — that race-conscious affirmative action discriminates against Asian American applicants.
This work bolsters efforts by conservative partisan and lobbyist Edward Blum, who has made a career out of opposing civil rights measures for people of colour. Blum is best known as the architect of the Fisher v. University of Texas Supreme Court cases, which is the Right’s latest campaign to invalidate affirmative action in higher education. Outside of his interest in ending race-conscious affirmative action, Blum has backed numerous Supreme Court cases to reverse portions of the Voting Rights Act and to silence voters of colour. In the recently defeated Evenwel v. Abbott Supreme Court case, Blum and his fellow litigators argued that districts should be drawn so as to disenfranchise thousands of non-voting citizens, who are predominantly young people and people of colour. (AAAJ-AAJC talks about how Evenwel v. Abbott would have resulted in the disenfranchisement of numerous AAPIs).
Edward Blum is clearly no ally of the AAPI community. So, one must wonder why some Asian Americans would support his causes.
Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for over an hour with regards to Fisher II, the second hearing of the anti-affirmative action case that centers around the plight of Abigail Fisher, a White woman who applied for admission to the University of Texas in 2008, and was rejected. (Incidentally, I am a co-signer of an amicus brief submitted to the Court in Fisher II in support of race-conscious affirmative action.)
The University of Texas employs a so-called “Top Ten Percent Plan”, wherein the school automatically admits students from each of the state’s high schools who score within the top ten percent of their graduating class. The remainder of available slots are filled through a holistic review process that includes race as one of several characteristics used to assess applicants. Fisher — whose high school grades were insufficient to yield her automatic acceptance to the University of Texas — contends that she was rejected under holistic review because she is White and therefore that the University of Texas violated her 14th Amendment rights. However, independent review of her application and the characteristics of other applicants in 2008 demonstrate that Fisher’s application package was weak in comparison to others in her year, and that her rejection likely had nothing to do with the colour of her skin.
Three national Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander civil rights organizations filed separate amicus briefs today in support of affirmative action; the briefs were filed in relation to the upcoming Fisher v. University of Texas case scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on December 9th.
In addition to briefs filed by the Asian American Legal Defense Fund (AALDEF) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the brief filed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) was signed by over 160 national AANHPI groups and individuals, including by this blog. Other signatories hail from all parts of the AANHPI diaspora, in terms of ethnicity, gender and group focus.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!