Last November, North Thurston Public Schools, located east of Olympia, Washington, made headlines when their yearly “equity report” removed Asian students from the “person of color” category. Instead, they were lumped in with whites in a dishonest attempt to emphasize the “persistent opportunity gaps” experienced by minority populations. After intense pushback, the district removed the controversial report from its website yet defended the decision by stating, “When we reviewed our disaggregated data it showed that our district is systemically meeting the instructional needs of both our Asian and White students and not meeting the instructional needs for our Black, Indigenous, Multi-racial, Pacific Islander and Latinx students.”
Essentially, Asian-Americans were declared “white adjacent” because they outperform all other racial groups in the classroom, including whites. Instead of appreciating the cultural values that encourage this level of academic success, the school district manipulated its data to support the argument that “systematic racism” is holding minority students back. Considering that hate crimes against Asian-Americans have spiked by 150% amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Asian populations were held in internment camps as recently as 1945, the motivations behind the move are illogical and misleading. Nonetheless, the Biden Administration has chosen to follow North Thurston’s lead by throwing its weight behind the concept of equity which often penalizes Asian Americans for their success.
With President Trump at the helm, the United States government was committed to empowering students to achieve regardless of their race or national origin. Under Trump, the Department of Education reversed Obama-era guidelines which allowed universities to consider race in the admissions process to improve diversity on college campuses. With the decision, President Trump ensured that the future prospects of any student would not be limited solely based on the color of his or her skin.
Trump’s commitment to race-blind admissions was further cemented when his Department of Justice filed suit against Yale University alleging that the school racially discriminates against Asian and white applicants. The lawsuit claimed Yale managed to racially balance its classrooms through the use of a process that considers race at numerous different stages. These stages multiply the effect of race on a student’s chance for admission. As a result of this race-based selection, Asian Americans and whites are only one-tenth to one-fourth as likely to be accepted into Yale when compared to African Americans with comparable academic credentials. According to the DOJ complaint filed last year, “Yale rejects scores of Asian American and white applicant each year based on their race, whom it otherwise would admit.” The Asian American Coalition for Education, a group composed of over 100 Asian-American civil rights organizations, fought vigorously to push constitutional complaints against Harvard (2018) and Yale in an effort to protect their children’s educational freedom from the decisions of Ivy League admission departments. Nonetheless, the Biden administration dropped the lawsuit last month “in light of all available facts, circumstances, and legal developments,” marking a stark turn away from the Trump-era commitment to “race-blindness” in college admissions.
Contrary to the actions of the Biden administration and the activist Left, Asian Americans should not be punished for their academic success. Instead, in an effort to ensure equality among all races, admissions processes should be entirely merit-based and should reward students who excel in the classroom in a fair, even-handed manner.