COMMENTARY | The state of California banned the use of racial preferences in public college admissions in 1996. Since then, Asian-Americans have come to rule the college admissions game. Now Democrats in California want to reverse the ban on using race as part of college admissions. TIME’s Ron Christie applauds this goal and lambasts Asian-American politicians for opposing the move. He essentially calls Asian-Americans in California racist, labeling them as selfish for trying to keep more of “their” students enrolled in the state’s colleges and universities.
Christie’s thought process is laughably wrong. The issue is not Asian-American racism against blacks and Hispanics, who would benefit from a reversal of California’s 1996 ban on racial preferences in college admissions. The issue is racism against Asian-Americans by the general public. Asian-Americans, who traditionally score higher on college admissions tests and secure better enrollment statistics in colleges and universities, are the ones who will suffer when their scores and grades are minimized due to their race.
As a teacher, it sickens me that we punish those who are good students. Christie tries to play racial politics but avoids the elephant in the room: Asian-Americans are not worried about being “diluted” on college campuses by blacks and Hispanics – they are worried about their achievements being disregarded due to their race. They are worried that Asian-American students will no longer be awarded for the same academic successes we encourage all students, regardless of race, to attain. We tell kids to study hard, get good grades, and build a good high school resume.
But, in the case of Asian-Americans, we are appalled that they have done too well. They have won the game. They outhustled, outworked, outplayed. And we didn’t like that, thought it didn’t look right. So we manipulate the game, minimize their academic achievements, and talk about how we need a “critical mass” of everyone else.
Ending California’s race-blind admissions policies will be a slap in the face to Asian-Americans who have taken the goal of excellent academic achievement to heart. It will be a slap in the face to the goal of excellent academic achievement itself, minimizing the importance of good grades and test scores. It will minimize the pursuit of objective competition and performance in American society.
I was a nerd in school. I am a nerd today. I loathe the tendency of many to mock the hardworking, studious teens who blatantly try at school. They are often considered “losers” by their less-motivated classmates. We have this idea that you should be allowed to succeed without having to “try too hard” or be, in any way, less than cool.
Instead of mocking the stereotypical studious Asian-American student, why don’t we applaud them and actually encourage other students to work…I don’t know…harder? It’s a radical concept. In America we should not punish those who succeed in the name of making everyone else feel better. We should tell everyone else to up their game. Tough. Deal. If you can’t play, get off the court.
As a fellow nerd, I think it’s time for some academic street ball. If we want to continue to compete with other industrialized nations in terms of human capital we cannot allow ourselves to play half-court, JV ball when it comes to higher education. If you want to be a champion you’ve got to play like a big dog. As a nerd, I wanted to be an athlete. Nobody watered down the standards for me or said they needed a “critical mass” of pudgy nerds on the team. If you couldn’t hack it, you didn’t play.
It is hypocritical to hold this mantra dear in most realms of American life but disrespect it when it comes to education. Asian-Americans have mastered the academic game and now we want to change the rules. Would we change the rules of other institutions to let them in? Maybe for professional sports? The NBA? No, we would not. Such a suggestion would be laughable, right?
Therefore, we should not alter California’s race-blind college admissions policies. Fair is fair and teaches our young people how to compete. America needs to up its human capital game and a little academic street ball is just what the U.S. of A needs.