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A Plea For Affirmative Action

Asians are not white.

African-Americans know this. Hispanic-Americans know this. White people certainly know this.

Asians haven’t figured it out yet. We think of ourselves as, essentially, white. White people who can eat spicy food. We live in Tudor-style houses, drive Italian and German cars, graduate Summa Cum Laude from Yale medical school, and casually discriminate against black and Hispanic people. We’re basically white.

We share white entitlement. We are smarter, better educated, more talented, more hardworking. It’s taken as the gospel that we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps, and that we deserve everything we worked for. And we do. But we conveniently forget that there are races in the United States that work hard and get nothing. Safe in our McMansions, we tell ourselves that we are superior to them. We say that we are superior because we are complicit in our own oppression, and because a racist government decided 50 years ago that, if nothing else, we were better than black people.

We share white entitlement

We think white people have our backs, because we are essentially the same.White people do not give a damn about us. No, that’s not right.

Racist white people do not give a damn about us, they tolerate us. By tolerate, I mean that they let us live here. They do not kill us for driving, or entering our apartments, or buying iced tea, they do not call the police on us for walking on the sidewalk. They do not lynch us, or revoke our right to vote. When we get pulled over, we do not throw our hands out the window to show that we are unarmed, because if we do not, we know we’ll be shot by the police.


Asians had to trade something for the right to live freely in this country. We turned our backs on the POC community, on the civil rights movement that gave us the right to come to this country. We turned our backs on our own community.


When white men unabashedly say that they have yellow fever (only being interested in dating east Asian women), we laugh it off as a crass joke. Locker room talk. Locker room talk that results in hundreds of women being stalked, raped, and killed every year. We brush it off. When elderly Asian women are beat up, we keep quiet. When Sikh men have their turbans pulled off, we roll our eyes, and dismiss it as the actions of a crazy person. We never accept that it could be a hate crime. Because there is no such thing as a hate crime against white people, and aren’t we just essentially white people?


And so, when we encounter some real oppression, us lucky ones who have never been the victims of “incidents” (read: hate crimes), we look wildly around for someone to blame. A different minority. Capitalism. Global warming. God, anyone but white people. How can we blame our own people?


When Harvard’s discriminatory admissions practices against Asians were revealed, I was furious. They rated Asians lower on personality traits. I ranted and raved about it for months, how disgusting it was that these racist stereotypes made it into the admissions process. I had every right to be mad, as does every Asian.

I had every right to be mad, as does every Asian.

And then I saw how the Asian community handled it. If I was angry before, it was nothing on how I feel now. When I first heard of the group suing Harvard, I was in awe of them. I admired them, how they took a stand against racism, and how they were going to get our community justice.


Now, I am ashamed to say that they are from the same community as me.


What began as a crusade for justice for Asians has turned into a vile, racist battle to overturn affirmative action.


Because when we were oppressed, we ran to our oppressors for help. Rich, white people were forming these stereotypes and inserting them into the admissions process, and we ran to rich, white people to help us.

When we were oppressed, we ran to our oppressors for help.

And of course, they told us what we wanted to hear. They told us that was the fault of black and Hispanic people, that they were robbing us of our hard-earned seats. They told us they would help us. It was such a comfortable process, white people making promises to us, and whispering in our ears that it was someone else’s fault.

They claim that overthrowing affirmative action will benefit us. This is a boldfaced lie. Overthrowing affirmative action will help rich white people. The purpose of affirmative action is to give everyone equal opportunities. Not equal results. Equal opportunities. Affirmative action will get you into an Ivy League school, but that’s all the help you will get. Beyond there, you are at the mercy of prejudices.

If you are a black man and sexually assault a woman, you’ll be killed, or given life imprisonment at best. If you are a white man and sexually assault a woman, you’ll be given a seat on the Supreme Court. But what happens to the Asian man who sexually assaults the woman? We never hear about him, so we assume that he must have gone on to have a fulfilling career as a neurosurgeon. The Asian man will go to jail, too. The Asian community will excommunicate him. It’ll be like he never existed. The next generation of Asians assume that we also do not have to face consequences for our actions.


Affirmative action is just one attempt to remedy this systemic inequality. If you take away affirmative action, then it is at the discretion of the admissions officers to admit you. We think that will be a good thing, because there are no negative stereotypes about Asians.


If we lose affirmative action, we will lose our place. We will lose our fancy degrees, high-powered jobs, and expensive lifestyles. The POC community fought hard for affirmative action, and we benefited enormously from it. Without it, all the hard work in the world would not have gotten us to the top of the academic and professional worlds.

If we lose affirmative action, we will lose our place.

If you honestly believe that overthrowing affirmative action will benefit Asians, then you were not rejected from Harvard because you are Asian. You were rejected from Harvard because you are stupid.

This lawsuit was started by negative stereotypes about Asians. This lawsuit began, because it was just proven to us that Asians are discriminated against. But white people told us not to see it, so we obediently cover our eyes and parrot the idea that this is all black people’s fault.

If you honestly believe that overthrowing affirmative action will benefit Asians, then you were not rejected from Harvard because you are Asian. You were rejected from Harvard because you are stupid.

God forbid, we will win. Affirmative action will be overthrown. Black and hispanic people, no matter how good their SAT scores, will be barred from the Ivy League. So will Asians, with our perfect SAT scores, ability to play 5 instruments, trilingualism, and letters of recommendation from CEOs and Congressmen. Don’t worry, though. I’m sure white people will appreciate all we have done for them.


The POC community will hate us, and they will have a right to. We would have set the United States back 20 years. The rich white people who orchestrated this, using us as pawns, will quietly slip away, leaving Asians to take the flack for this.  Don’t worry, though. I’m sure white people will appreciate all we have done for them.


As I said, I am ashamed of these people. I am ashamed that other Asians would do that. But through this, I have grouped them with us. Because we, as a community, need to start taking accountability. There are racist, classist Asians working against the Asian community and the POC community, and I know that I speak for the majority of the Asian community when I say that we do not support their racist quest to overthrow affirmative action.


Asian-Americans support affirmative action, and we support everyone in the larger POC community. The actions of SFFA embarrass us, and we only implore everyone to remember that this vocal minority does not represent us.


Rehana Paul is an Indian-American journalist and food blogger.  She founded Overachiever magazine in 2018 to give a voice to Asian women from all over Asia, living all around the world.




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