Wednesday, October 30, 2013

REPOST: Asians and Whites Against Blacks and Latinos? The Myths and Realities of Affirmative Action and College-Bound High School Students

In March 2013, Rachel Christmas Derrick wrote one of the best essays I have ever read on the merits and benefits of race-conscious affirmative action in college admissions. I provide an excerpt below:

A high school teacher recently gave a student a lower grade than she expected. She told him after class, "I can't get grades like this! I'm not brown. If I was, it wouldn't matter, but since I'm white, I won't get into college with grades like this."

Two close friends were discussing where they were applying. The Asian-American student said to the African-American student, "Of course you’ll get into your first choice—you're black."

A white mother lamented, "I didn't know what to say to my son when he told me that a less academically gifted classmate, who’s Puerto Rican, got into a highly competitive college where my son was wait-listed."

"Most of the white and Asian students I hear talking about affirmative action really dislike it," David Joffe, a history teacher at Hunter College High School, a leading New York City school, says. "They rarely reference the historical or, for that matter, the current socio and political contexts that make race-based affirmative action, in my mind, still necessary. When it's discussed in terms of increasing diversity, many white and Asian students see it as meaning fewer of them in favor of more black and Latino students. So they view it as anti-white and anti-Asian."

These uncomfortable issues, which high schools across New York City and across the country are grappling with, were at the core of a thought-provoking discussion at a Hunter PTA meeting.

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