Do you care about Asians, America?

How crazy have these last few years been?

We’ve entered a period more divisive than anything we’ve seen in America since Reconstruction. Families are divided, friendships have eroded and anyone who disagrees with us is now the enemy. If you voted for Biden you’re an America hating socialist and if you voted for Trump you’re a racist Nazi.

This pandemic has amplified the divide we’ve seen over the past decade. We’ve all had ample time to sit at home and hear the voices shout at us from our echo chambers. We’ve seen Americans protest police brutality against African Americans and then saw a faction of those protesters devolve into rioters and looters. We’ve seen Americans protest the rioting and looting and then saw a faction of those protesters react violently against innocent citizens.

We’ve seen a lot this past year. We’ve heard all the talking heads give their takes and entered a period where seemingly everyone has a voice.

But that’s just not true.

We’ve somehow become a black vs white society, and drowned out the voices of those of us on the fringes with more nuanced perspectives.

As a person of color, I’m expected to be a Democrat — I’m not. As a child of affluence, I’m expected to be a Republican- I’m not. I’m an independent because neither of the major parties represent my interests in their entirety.

Asian Americans, as a population, are largely educated. 49.8% of us have a four year college degree, far outpacing non-hispanic whites (30%), non-hispanic blacks (17.3) and Hispanics (11.4%).

There are some really good reasons for that. A lot of Asian Americans come to the United States either for graduate school or an H1B visa as a skilled worker. So those of us that immigrate here are already well educated. We come from cultures that prioritize education and achievement, and those skilled workers have kids who they encourage to excel academically and strive for achievement.

Asian Americans are also the wealthiest ethnic group in America.

When you break it down by detailed races, Indian Americans (the group I belong to) have the highest median household income at $123,453.

So, Asian Americans are the wealthiest and most educated group in this country. We’ve put ourselves in a fantastic position to succeed and progress in American society. But that doesn’t mean our lives are without challenges.

California recently attempted to pass Proposition 16, which repealed 1996’s Proposition 209 which forbid government and public institutions from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to persons on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.

The colorful language surrounding prop 16 is another way of simply saying they want to reinstate affirmative action. Fortunately, this proposition garnered only 43% of the vote and failed.

Affirmative Action would have hurt California’s 15.5% Asian population. We’re what’s considered an “overrepresented minority” since we make up a greater percentage of college attendees than we do the state’s population. It is a blatant attempt to penalize us for coming from wealthy, educated families.

What are we expected to do, not make use of the resources such as SAT classes and tutoring our parents pay for in order to get us in to good colleges? Does that seem fair to the poor Chinese and Indian high schoolers who spend sleepless nights writing a 20 page papers on Oedipus Rex for their AP Lit class? Should these kids just not put in the effort because the system is rigged to make it harder for them?

And let’s not forget that Affirmative Action doesn’t work. In her 2005 research paper titled The Effects of Affirmative Action Programs: Evidence from the University of California at San Diego, Heather Rose asserts that “Using administrative data from the University of California at San Diego, the author explicitly identifies and studies students admitted under affirmative action programs. On average, these students earned grade point averages (GPAs) 0.30 points lower than those of nonaffirmative students. The difference in graduation rates is larger, with 57% of affirmative action students graduating compared to 73% of their nonaffirmative action peers.”

Essentially, kids who get into college through affirmative action perform worse and graduate less frequently. Is it really fair that these students who are statistically less qualified and less likely to perform well and graduate take spots from more qualified and likely to succeed Asian American candidates?

There’s an easier way to better society than penalizing hard working Asian Americans. If the ultimate goal of affirmative action is to ensure that more African Americans get into college, why not attempt to level the playing field by improving K-12 education rather than throwing less qualified students to the wolves in college just so your demographics will match up?

As Yukong Zhao, president of the Asian American Coalition for Education, said, “Going forward, I’d like to warn liberal politicians in California and nationwide: focus your efforts on devising effective measures to improve K-12 education for Black and Hispanic children, instead of introducing racially divisive and discriminatory laws time and again. You have failed in California in 2014, as well as Washington State and New York City in 2019.”

Zhao hits the nail on the head there. Affirmative action is racially divisive and discriminatory. It’s as if the lessons learned from all of American history about racism, segregation and discrimination never made it through the heads of the virtue signaling politicians that advocated for this proposition. They seem to think it’s okay to do things at the detriment of Asian Americans because there aren’t that many of us and we don’t have a history of protesting.

The current BLM movement has also given rise to the idea that reparations are owed to African Americans. Yes, it is an absolute travesty that the ancestors of a lot of black Americans were brought here as slaves. There aren’t enough words to describe how reprehensible slavery is, but the hardship of your ancestors is not enough to justify raising the taxes of an entire nation to pay you money for your skin tone.

By that logic, every oppressed group ever ought to demand reparations. Indians should demand money from the British, Indonesians ought to ask the Dutch to pay them back for their hardships and Spain should pay basically every Native American group in South America for the rest of human existence.

California passed Assembly Bill 3121 earlier this year to establish a task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans. All it does is establish a task force for reparations, it doesn’t actually enact reparations. But the task force in itself is an affront to people like me who had absolutely nothing to do with slavery. My family first came to this country in 1982, over a hundred years after slavery ended in America. Why should I have to pay more in taxes to potentially pay black people for being black?

Reparations, especially in California of all places, would basically steal money from Asian Americans and redistribute it to African Americans. There’s no real logic there, it’s essentially calling for screwing over one group to pay back another group that got screwed over.

America’s black and white problems are deeply systemic and nothings going to change in the short term. But band aid solutions like affirmative action or free money in the form of reparations aren’t the solution. Something isn’t a solution if it comes at the expense of another person.

I want racial harmony in America. Truly, I do. I don’t think BLM is inherently evil — getting behind the idea that black people should be treated equally and with respect not only in the eyes of law enforcement but society as a whole is an exceedingly easy idea to get behind. So is the notion that all Trump voters aren’t inherently deplorable, many of them truly believe that his vision for America was better for them.

But their problems aren’t the only problems in America. We’re a diverse group of people from different ethnic, academic and financial backgrounds. Yet, unfortunately only the voices of two groups are relevant today. Something has to change. If this country is going to continue to ask so much of us, shouldn’t our voices at least be heard?

We’ve been silent for far too long. We do too much for this country to continue to sit quietly. It’s time to stand up and make sure people know we have something to say.

America, it’s time you started caring about Asians.

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