Asian American Discrimination In Education

1285 (3 pages)
Download for Free
Important: This sample is for inspiration and reference only

When we imagine getting into college in the US it often looks like a race to fill a limited number of seats. Harvard's recent discrimination lawsuit allegedly discriminating against Asian Americans students has once more highlighted the affirmative action debate. But the problem is, the way we talk about a person/group of people's ethnicity, in college admissions for years and it’s often wrong.

While we tend to imagine that affirmative action as a policy that reinforces college applicants who are of color to assist the historic discrimination they faced back in the 1950s - the Supreme Court has narrowed the use of affirmative action over decades of the ruling, and now, armed with associate allegations that Harvard used to race in universities admissions to discriminate against Asian applicants, a conservative opponent of affirmative action that could put the issue back within the hands of a majority-conservative Supreme Court.

Affirmative action was originally a way for colleges and universities to give special consideration to racial minorities to help undo the effects of past discrimination. And for many schools, it meant setting aside a certain percentage of seats for minority applicants, including the University of Southern California Davis Medical School. But in 1978 it changed because of a man named Allan Bakke. Bakke was rejected twice by the UC-Davis Medical School, so he filed a lawsuit. Before 1978 UC Davis quota reserved 16 of the 100 spaces for minority students, to remedy past discrimination. Bakke argued he had higher academic scores than several minority students who were accepted. And in 1978, the Supreme Court sided with Bakke.

The court said the school couldn’t use quotas to racially balance the student body, and that they couldn't consider race to remedy past racial discrimination. Justice Lewis Powell wrote that past discrimination is not a valid reason for considering race. So he was admitted to UC-Davis and became a doctor. But Allan Bakke case did not end affirmative action, it just redefined it. According to Justice Powell’s decision; “the only state interest that fairly may be viewed as compelling on this record is the interest of a university in a diverse student body.” So that meant that university administrators could no longer use affirmative action to address past discrimination, but they could use it to create a diverse student body.

Furthermore, a study published by Amy Stuart Wells, Lauren Fox, and Diana Cordova-Cobo on February 9, 2016 ‘How Racially Diverse Schools and Classrooms Can Benefit All Students’. For example, research shows that exposing students to different ethnic groups exposes students to different ways of thinking, which helps them better solve problems.

But here’s what’s confusing. The Federal Court said colleges couldn’t use quotas to create diversity, but later the court said colleges needed concrete diversity goals. Well, one way would be to give bonuses to all students of a certain race, but in 2003 the court said that it was not allowed. Instead, schools could consider an individual student’s race - if it was a factor of another factor.

All this means that our debates tend to paint a picture of affirmative action that just isn’t correct. It’s not a racial bonus or quota and it not about historical discrimination. It is a very narrow, and frankly confusing tool for colleges to create more racial diversity. And it’s that tiny sliver of affirmative action that many conservatives want to kill.

No time to compare samples?
Hire a Writer

✓Full confidentiality ✓No hidden charges ✓No plagiarism

And the lasted efforts come in the form of a highly publicized allegation; Harvard is discriminating against Asian-American applicants. In numerous news reports by major new anchors i.e. Fox News and CNN said “A group of about 60 Asians organization is suing Harvard University.”, An Issue is whether the university imposes a cap on the number of qualified Asian American students that it admits.”.

Harvard assigns each applicant a personal rating, that consists of contextual factors i.e. socioeconomic, legacy, geography, parental occupation, career goals, leadership, and upbringing. And typical Asian applicants score lower on that metric compared to white applicants. Meanwhile, Asian applicants tend to score higher on the academic metric in contrast to white applicants. So, Fair Admissions led by Edward Blum argued that, since Asians have better academic success, Harvard is using this personal rating to balance out the numbers of Asian Americans they admit; which is ultimate, a fancy racial quota.

But according to UC Berkeley economist David Card’s analysis of domestic applicants, the share of Asian students varies a lot from year to year.

If Harvard had a quota, you’d expect that the share to stay the same. But even if Harvard wins its case, affirmative action opponents hope that this case will eventually go to Supreme Court, a body that’s recently become more conservative. And their ultimate hope is that the Supreme Court will rule broadly - and kill affirmative action entirely.

But there’s another part of the story, and it makes this debate very confusing. Harvard really is scoring Asians lower in the personal metric, and many Asians are angry. Swan Lee founder of Asian American Coalition for Education said in an interview, “Asian-American students are marked down, subjectively.” Furthermore, a Fox News reporter -further support by saying “I mean, courage, bravery, saying that American students lack that? Is insulting.” these two successful powerful Asian American help brings up the inevitable question: Where do Asian fit into the affirmative action debate?

It’s a confusing question because Asians certainly face discrimination, but we’ve also had a lot of success in higher education. In very selective private colleges, Asians make up the second biggest group; 22.2% of Harvard emitted class of 2021 were Asian American even though, we make up 5.8% of the U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017).

Furthermore, the percentage of newly arrived US immigrants will college degrees and Asians are among the most educated according to the Pew Research Centre study. This doesn't mean all Asian Americans share the same history. Another sample of data by Pew Research Centre displays how the poverty rate of Asian Americans is very different across these groups.

But by looking at our histories, which were largely determined by our skin color and ethnicity; we can understand how Asians might face racist admissions practices. But how that doesn’t mean Asian Americans suffer systemic disadvantages in education. And that's the other reason why we suck at talking about affirmative action; we often ignore history. Opponents of affirmative action say that any policy that considers a person's race violates the 14th Amendment in the U.S., which says everyone is guaranteed “equal protection of the laws.” But looking at the history helps us understand why that’s misleading.

The equal protection classed was created to protect the rights of black people after the Civil War; and the Supreme Court has cited it in decisions like Brown v Board and Loving v Virginia, cases that made American society more inclusive. The Supreme Court has ruled time and again that being inclusive doesn’t mean we have to be colorblind. For example, today’s schools are still highly segregated and children of color still face major disadvantages. So creating a more inclusive system requires us to recognize the role of race, and this is arguably the best defense of affirmative action. However, the Supreme Court says that schools can’t use the history of racial discrimination as a defense for considering race. The only thing schools can say is; everyone benefits from diversity.

And soon, if this Harvard case makes it in front of the Court, colleges might not even be able to make that argument. This means a place like Harvard, the training ground for the elite, where about one in four students are currently black or Hispanic would go back to looking the way it did two generations ago. While conservatives will finally get the colorblind process they’ve long dreamed of. 

You can receive your plagiarism free paper on any topic in 3 hours!

*minimum deadline

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below

Copy to Clipboard
Asian American Discrimination In Education. (2021, July 15). WritingBros. Retrieved June 25, 2024, from
“Asian American Discrimination In Education.” WritingBros, 15 Jul. 2021,
Asian American Discrimination In Education. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Jun. 2024].
Asian American Discrimination In Education [Internet]. WritingBros. 2021 Jul 15 [cited 2024 Jun 25]. Available from:
Copy to Clipboard

Need writing help?

You can always rely on us no matter what type of paper you need

Order My Paper

*No hidden charges