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The Lesser Known-History Of Black-Asian Solidarity In America

The Lesser Known-History Of Black-Asian Solidarity In America

Recent legal actions have appeared to represent Asian American opposition to affirmative action, based on the idea that policies that promote Black and Latinx admission into colleges and universities penalize Asian American applicants. The recent case Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard is a high-profile case in this narrative, and the Trump justice department supported a similar case against Yale University.

The popular narrative, however, hides several important points. For one, although Students for Fair Admissions claims to represent Asian American students, the organization was founded and bankrolled by a white conservative activist, Edward Blum, who has conducted a long campaign against policies that use racial considerations to counteract racism – for instance, Blum was instrumental in the Supreme Court decision that weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Many critics argue that Blum and other white conservatives are exploiting Asian American students and attempting to pit them against other minority populations.

Despite the framing that has been put around these issues, 70% of Asian Americans support affirmative action, according to recent survey data. In fact, this support appears to have actually increased during the time that the Students for Fair Admissions lawsuit was being litigated. Additionally, many Asian American students likely benefit directly from affirmative action, including many students whose families initially came to the U.S. as refugees and who often experience poverty and other hardships. Affirmative action might therefore help to lessen the widening income gap that exists within the Asian American community.

As many Asian Americans face the same socioeconomic and institutional barriers to higher education that impede Black and Latinx students, the fight to protect affirmative action represents yet another instance where these populations have common causes to support one another. Now, with these communities being potentially pitted against one another, all while violence rises against Asian Americans and remains targeted against Black Americans, solidarity and mutual support are as important as ever.

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