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What does affirmative action mean for me?

Today, a friend shared this article, “For Asian-Americans, a Changing Landscape on College Admissions“, from the LA Times. It talked about how affirmative action often disadvantages and discriminates against Asian Americans.

It was interesting – since I grew up in Oakland, the conversation was that affirmative action was a good thing.

It had made sense to me – it leveled the playing field for those that were at a social and financial disadvantaged. I had assumed that everyone around me was disadvantaged and everyone not around me was doing pretty well.

But surrounding environment changed and the conversations surrounding education were really, really different.

  • I went to elementary school in Chinatown, and the majority of the school was first-generation Asian American.
  • Then, I went to middle school in another part of Oakland, where the majority of the school was African American.
  • After, I moved to another city for high school, and the majority became Caucasian.
  • And now, I attend university at a college where the majority is Asian American once again, but in a higher average economic class.

People naturally have a hard time empathizing and understanding people in different positions. It’s one thing to say you see both sides of a situation, but an entirely different thing when you’ve been on different sides of a situation.

For me,

I have mixed feelings (of course). I think it’s unfair to use ethnicity as an indicator in affirmative action – there are many stories in the history of a people, but history is a weak indicator of the day-to-day challenges they face. Rather, I support using economic status/well-being – it’s a better indicator of everyday challenges and provides richer information about an individual’s lifestyle.

Obviously, this is a short blurb about the topic –

I can have conversations about this forever. This doesn’t even touch all the problems, debates, and difficulties of something like education policy. Policy is never a one-size-fits-all and will never be able to solve all the problems with our education system – if we can even agree on how to define what the problems are. But it’s interesting and useful and important – choosing to not have an opinion or conversation will limit your way of looking at the situation. So there – my two cents shaped by personal experiences and conversations.

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