The Corner

Asian Americans’ Affirmative-Action Quandary

What happens to affirmative action when an American minority group finds itself increasingly privileged and successful, at least compared to other racial groupings? The New York Times’ national legal-affairs correspondent, Ethan Bronner, considers:

Asian-Americans, who make up 5 percent of the population, are the fastest growing racial group, with three-quarters of adults born abroad, according to the Pew Research Center. And they are tangled up in the affirmative action issue in complicated ways.

On the one hand, some ambitious and disciplined students from India, South Korea and China see themselves as victims of race-conscious admissions, their numbers kept artificially low to keep a more demographically balanced campus. . . . On the other hand, Filipinos, Cambodians, Pacific Islanders and other Asian-Americans continue to benefit from policies that take ethnicity into account.

Carrying on for more than 2,300 words, Bronner examines historical anti-Asian racism in America, the Asian-American work ethic, the politics of college admissions, the incredible diversity of Asian countries and cultures, and just about every other possible angle. 

Except for one, that is. He misses the most obvious conclusion: Asian Americans are facing a higher-education predicament because affirmative action is a complicated solution to an artificial problem. No wonder it has complex and unintended consequences.


The Latest