Affirmative action is defined by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as any measure that permits the consideration of race, national origin, sex, or disability, along with other criteria, and which is adopted to provide opportunities to a class of qualified individuals who have either historically or actually been denied those opportunities and/or to prevent the recurrence of discrimination in the future .
The most prevalent question being debated nationwide is whether or not affirmative action successfully resolves the issue of discrimination in higher education. Supposedly, the focus of a lot of institutions is diversity. But what is diversity? Who defines diversity? The question we have to ask ourselves when addressing affirmative action is what type of diversity do we want and what type of diversity are we seeing in society.
Before we address a lot of the issues with affirmative action itself, there is certainly merit to a lot of claims proponents of the policy defend. For example, higher education seeks to increase racial diversity and combat “structural racism” through the higher acceptance of people of color into educational systems. Certainly, colleges around the nation are successfully obtaining an accepting environment that incorporates cultures of all types and of all colors. This is the diversity that society seems to seek: racial diversity.
But, why is the diversity we ought to seek, specifically in the context of an educational system? On the outside, this seems perfectly fine and would result in equal access into educational resources to all minorities. But what happens to intellectual diversity?
Let’s take a second to look back at the definition of affirmative action. It is any measure that is premised on “providing opportunities to a class of qualified individuals who have historically been denied those opportunities.” Are Asian-Americans out of the qualification of being historically denied opportunities relative to other people of color such as African-Americans? Why is that society no longer deems Asian-Americans people of color that deserve this type of recourse against historical instances of oppression? Why do we overlook that, at one point, Asian-Americans were essentially forced into a system of slavery and denied basic opportunities to resources? Why do we overlook the fact that Asians also weren’t able to access the “colored” fountains?
Affirmative Action was founded by President John Kennedy on the idea of equality. Albeit, the executive order was granted during the crux of the Civil Rights Era, we have seem to ignore its application to instances of oppression like the Asian Exclusion Act of 1882 or the Immigration Act of 1924. Asian-Americans are essentially living proof that racial minorities are able to overcome systemic oppression through developing a culture of work and perseverance.
Why is that society no longer appreciates merit, but focuses on mere diversity? Why is intellectual diversity no longer relevant? Affirmative action is now a tool against Asian-Americans across the nation. Individuals that have identical college applications based on merit, except for their ethnicity, are being differentiated .
The affirmative action movement as a whole is quite racist against Asian-Americans as the premise itself is based on the idea that all Asians are ideologically identical. This belief itself is the contradiction that arises from a lot of liberal movements in society right now: promoting the deconstruction of racism by targeting other races that are doing well for themselves. At the end of the day, the work of Asian-Americans is no longer considered valuable to society. Hard work ultimately becomes for nothing.