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It finally happened.
What conservatives hope and liberals fear: the US Supreme Court bans race-based affirmative action in college admissions. Membership in a particular racial or ethnic group no longer hurts or helps you get into an American institute of higher learning. At least not legally.
To which I say amen.
It’s not that I’m against the social, intellectual, or economic advancement of historically poor people, far from it. My wife is Filipino, an ethnicity that was once ridiculed by Americans, including those in my home state of California.
As recently as 1930, in fact, 500 white residents attacked a Filipino dance hall, dragged immigrants from their homes, killed a Filipino farmer, and destroyed the entire Filipino a neighborhood in Watsonville, California. Three years later, the state legislature even passed a law prohibiting Filipinos from marrying Whites.
All of this, of course, came after decades of agitation against Asian Americans who imposed unfair taxes, barred their testimony in court, barred their education in public schools, restricted business ownership to the whites to make them work, and prohibited them from owning or renting agricultural land. .
The culmination came during World War II when 120,000 Japanese Americans were involuntarily sent to relocation camps like Manzanar in California, which shocked me during a journalistic visit there a few years ago. .
And yet Asian Americans were the prime movers behind the lawsuits that resulted in the judicial overturning of affirmative action last week. “How can that be?” I hear you ask. Simple: because the permanent legal concealment of racial discrimination—even if intended to empower its former victims—ends up working on itself, producing the exact opposite effect.
Case in point: would-be Asian American students at Harvard and the University of North Carolina who claim—with valid statistical evidence—that there is no advantage in legally sanctioned admissions. shown by Black and Hispanic applicants.
But there is another, more sinister, effect of institutionalized racial discrimination: the clear message to previously victimized groups that they cannot succeed on their own without special help. Which, in a word, is the very epitome of racism.
Affirmative action was never meant to be permanently embedded in culture as a form of racial degradation. Rather, it is intended as a temporary band-aid to help heal the painful sins of the past.
Proponents of race-based college admissions argue that such offenses are still active without exception, pointing as evidence to the low enrollment statistics of certain racial groups. My contention: very few college admissions boards still actively discriminate against ethnic minorities and, if they do, legal sanctioning of discrimination will only encourage, not prevent, that practice.
No, to understand racial enrollment disparities, one must look beyond historical or current discrimination to factors including culture, motivation, economics, and family. How else to explain the remarkable success of Asian Americans (whose per capita income and college enrollment surpass that of Whites in the US) despite the recent and serious racial discrimination they face?
My conclusion: kudos to the Supreme Court for having the courage to do the right thing despite intense political pressure to continue towing a line that has long been out of use.
(David Haldane’s latest book, “A Tooth in My Popsicle,” is available on Lazada and Amazon. A former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, he is an award-winning journalist, author, and broadcaster with houses in Joshua Tree, California, and Surigao City,
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