The problem with Blum’s assertions are that he argues that the vast majority of Asian Americans oppose affirmative action (not true), and that all Asian Americans are currently directly disadvantaged by affirmative action policies (also not true). This latter point merits additional consideration: whereas Blum’s lawsuit treats Asian Americans as a monolithic group of high-achievers, the reality is that the AAPI community includes a broad range of Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups spanning a spectrum of income and educational opportunities. Yet, the specific needs of these (predominantly non-East Asian) ethnic groups are typically ignored by anti-affirmative action groups.
However, is there an effect of affirmative action when Asian Americans are disaggregated by ethnic group? Specifically, does race-conscious affirmative action produce an observable benefit to Southeast Asian American enrollment for example? Conversely, does the absence of race-conscious affirmative action hurt Southeast Asian American applicants?
Blum’s lawsuits, filed on behalf of an Asian and a White plaintiff respectively, assert that Harvard and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill employ discriminatory admissions practices in their affirmative action policies; in contrast to the Fisher case, these two suits argue that affirmative action policies constitute discrimination against both Asian American and White applicants.
The suit against Harvard University involves an Asian American applicant who presumably filled out the form above. The suit describes the applicant as having scored highly in GPA and standardized test scores, but was denied admission to Harvard. The suit then alleges that the reason for the student’s failure to receive admittance was because Harvard treats race as “a defining feature of [an] application”, which is not permitted under Supreme Court rulings.
Yet, the evidence for this assertion appears scant.
2014 was a record-breaking year for Asian American and Pacific Islander political candidates: this year, 39 AAPI candidates launched a campaign for Congressional office compared to 29 in 2012 and only 8 in 2010. 22 AAPI candidates made it past their primary races compared to only 13 two years ago. Four AAPIs were running in a gubernatorial race with an additional 3 competing for the Lt. Governor’s office in Hawaii. An unprecedented 159 AAPI candidates were running for a local elected office in 26 states.
Election Night 2014 was certainly shaping up to be a big night for AAPI political representation. Sadly, this just wasn’t our year. After the jump, here’s the the breakdown of what happened last night.
I was having dinner earlier this week with a member of my extended family when the topic of race-conscious affirmative action and SCA-5 came up. My family member (who is not Asian American) was surprised to learn that I support affirmative action; he was under the impression that all Asian Americans were monolithically opposed to race-conscious admissions considerations. “What?” he asked, somewhat teasingly, “don’t you want Asians to be able to get into college?”
All this aside, there is a persistent myth within the American political landscape that Asian Americans are universally opposed to affirmative action. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, the affirmative action issue is one that highlights the diversity in Asian American political thought.