Many Asian American groups and leaders are speaking out against the Supreme Court ruling that struck down affirmative action on Thursday.
Some experts and activists argued that the decision is an example of Asian Americans being used as a «wedge» to erode civil rights.
They note that while the two cases, led by conservative activist Edward Blum, who is white, argued that policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina discriminated against Asian-Americans, no Asian-American students came forward to testify that experienced discrimination.
“The white supremacist agendas behind these lawsuits use the small number of Asian Americans against affirmative action as pawns in their efforts, weaponizing the myth of the model minority to divide our communities,” the Asian American said in a press release. American Advocacy Fund, a Georgia-based nonprofit organization. «Affirmative action policies have played an important role in ensuring access to higher education for Asian Americans.»
Polls show a higher proportion of Asian Americans support affirmative action, with 53% who have heard of politics saying that it is «a good thing». Another 19% say that it is something negative. A seperation survey 2022 The nonprofit group APIAVote, which surveyed registered Asian-American voters, found that 69 percent favored affirmative action programs “designed to help Black people, women, and other minorities gain better access to higher education».
However, some expressed support for the ruling, including Rep. Michelle Steel, a California Republican.
“I am living my American Dream because, in this country, your actions determine your success, not your race and ethnicity,” he wrote on Twitter.
But Sally Chen, manager of the educational equity program at the nonprofit group Chinese for Affirmative Action, called the characterization of the impact of race-conscious admissions on Asian Americans «troubling.»
“Addressing racial inequality is not de facto racism. Addressing segregation and promoting diversity does not hurt any group,” he said. “Putting out the idea that Asian Americans are somehow being harmed by efforts to address inequality, efforts to address segregation, is really troubling cover for what the advocates in this case have been trying to do. ”.
Advancing Justice representatives said the decision is anti-black and perpetuates a systemic racism that has always been present in higher education. They also reflected on the disproportionate impact it could have on communities underrepresented under the umbrella of Asian American Pacific Islanders.
“This ruling will particularly harm the Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, and Southeast Asian communities who continue to face significant barriers to accessing higher education,” said Aarti Kohli, executive director of Advancing Justice’s Asian Law Caucus.
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., chair of the US-Pacific Congressional Caucus, said the removal of affirmative action «is not a victory.»
“For AANHPI communities, the end of race-conscious admissions is unlikely to change the net number of Asian American acceptances to elite institutions, but low-income, refugee, or Native American AANHPI students will encounter more barriers to be accepted,» he said. «That’s not a net positive and that’s why most AANHPIs in America have expressed support for race-conscious admissions.»
The groups say they will continue to hold universities accountable for making sure their campuses are diverse and their admissions processes are fair.
“We are outraged that the Supreme Court has chosen to ignore longstanding legal precedent in favor of supporting racial inequality that hurts all people of color, including Asian Americans,” said John C. Yang, Chairman and CEO of Advancing Justice, in the statement. «We will not let this court decision stop us from lobbying colleges and universities, Congress and others to prevent today’s ruling from undermining progress.»
Advocates say they are also committed to creating opportunities for students of color seeking higher education.
“The Court’s decision is a major setback to the ability of colleges and universities to create true equality in education,” Chinese for Affirmative Action said in a statement. “However, it is important to recognize that the ruling is strictly limited to race-conscious admissions, and not other important measures like targeted outreach and recruitment, or ensuring a more diverse faculty and university leadership.”
Students of color must still apply to elite schools, experts said.
“This decision does not represent what the majority of Americans support,” the Asian American Advocacy Fund wrote. «Despite attempts by those who seek to divide us to maintain white supremacy and existing power structures, communities of color are stronger than ever.»
Ultimately, it’s not just about “a few places at Harvard,” Kohli said.
«This is about this Court’s denial of the continuing reality that racism and segregation continue to warp and shape every aspect of our public life, including access to education,» he told NBC News. “Walking away from racism and inequality in our country doesn’t make it go away.”