We came across a piece up on “BuzzFeed” by David Noriega entitled “Asian-American Groups Split Over Affirmative Action Complaint” that quite intrigued us and so we figured we’d share it with the readers of our college admissions blog. The piece offers insight into the support among Asian American groups across the United States for the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education against Harvard College, alleging discrimination against Asian Americans in the university’s admissions practices. As Noriega writes, not every Asian American group is onboard with this complaint and, of course, this should come as no surprise. But what we found interesting was that many of the groups behind the complaint are comprised of Chinese immigrants whereas many of the groups that oppose the complaint are second, third, and fourth generation Americans.
As Noriega points out in his piece, “Most of the groups who filed the federal complaint are newer organizations comprising foreign-born immigrants, largely from China. The groups who led the opposition to the complaint tend to be older civil rights groups with American-born leaders and long-standing relationships with black and Latino activist groups. ‘From a sociological standpoint, that makes sense,’ C.N. Le, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told BuzzFeed News. More recent immigrants, he said, ‘are coming from an idealized image of American society as a meritocracy where everybody should have an equal chance … So, from that point of view, they see affirmative action as this mechanism that discriminates against Asian-Americans.'” An idealized image of American society. Very interesting indeed!
While we support the fact that this complaint has raised awareness about the discrimination against Asian Americans in the admissions process to highly selective colleges, we can’t help but feel deep down that nothing will come of this particular complaint. It’s just not an inciting incident to launch a civil rights movement. It’s not what Seneca Falls was to the women’s rights movement. It’s not what Stonewall was to the gay liberation movement. The great American civil rights advances rarely play out in legal complaints. They play out when more and more folks lift their voices in support of change. If this complaint encourages folks to lift their voices, we’re all for it. But we can’t help but empathize with the Asian American groups that didn’t back this complaint as well. It’s not as though these groups don’t want the discrimination to end. But they also don’t want to alienate other minority groups and halt so much of the progress that has been made over the past decades.
Where do you stand on the divide among Asian American groups with respect to the complaint filed against Harvard College? We’re curious to hear your thoughts so be sure to post a Comment below.