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  • Writer's pictureBoundless Awareness

Affirmative Action and the model minority myth

The Supreme Court decision that came down last week shows us the absolutely devastating result of the model minority myth. SCOTUS decided that affirmative action based on race violates the equal protection clause under the 14th amendment. We have watched this case closely since last year. The majority states that every person must be given the same opportunity to enter Harvard, UNC (and we soon wonder if this will extend to any other institution, job, firm, or placement).

Let’s break down how affirmative action and the model minority myth made this decision come about.

This country was founded on the white supremacy which inherently has discriminated against people of color in all facets of life -

It is a foolish, unrealistic fantasy to argue that everyone should be treated the same regardless of their skin color. We do not have systems that support this fallacy. Our systems are designed to favor white cishet men. There is no system currently in place that treats everyone equally or equitably. We as a society do not have a paradigm to treat people equally or equitably. There is no frame of reference for this fantasy.

Racism is embedded in every aspect of our country, society and culture. Racism is global. The impacts are real, harmful, offensive and fatal.

Because our systems make it impossible for people of color to achieve parity with white Americans, affirmative action was created as one (imperfect) policy to open the door to people of color where at almost every turn, the door has been shut for them. Affirmative action was not THE only answer. In its very short lifespan, there was no way that one policy could achieve equality because our systems did not change accordingly. For SCOTUS to shoot it down, means the government is willing to let discrimination run rampant.

Legacy admissions are inherently based on whiteness because the legacies themselves were white, had money, had access, had men in the family that were the legacy. But SCOTUS did not say that legacy admissions violate the equal protection clause.

The model minority myth is ethnocentric and xenophobic. Using a white supremacy lens, it illogically ranks people of color against each other. We don’t have a “model white myth” because white supremacy says white people should be viewed as individuals and anyone non-white should be lumped together and stereotyped. The model minority myth is so offensive because it stereotypes and lumps ALL Asians into one group as if ALL Asians are one characteristic (middle class, smart, professional etc). The model minority myth denies the reality that Asia is a massive place representing so many cultures that do not intersect at all, whose languages, nationalities, ethnicities, income level, levels of poverty, religions, and occupations are distinct and unrelated.

The purpose of the model minority myth is to feed anti-Black racism and discrimination by other people of color. It is designed to make sure that people of color do not align with each other’s oppression. It separates all of our plights and makes sure we do not organize ourselves in the fight for equality. It is designed to decrease or even eliminate any political power between people of color.

And in this case, the Asian plaintiffs bought into this myth and destroyed one of the only policies designed to lift up all people of color including Black Americans. It is shameful that any person of color was involved on the plaintiffs side because white supremacy will never be on your side. A person of color will never benefit by liaising with the white supremacy. All of us will suffer because of this decision. The false arguments of colorblindness and “we are all one race - the human race” type of thinking has now been encouraged by SCOTUS and will continue for decades. We will only have more discrimination, more racism, more unnecessary harm and death. The US has taken one giant step back and unfortunately the cascading effect will be not only into workplaces, private high school education, but to other countries as well.

What can you do?

Remember what is right: racism is alive and well and it is our job individually and collectively to educate ourselves and fight against it. Now is the time to reject these policies and continue our own education, to vocalize what we know is right, to align and organize ourselves with all oppression so we can turn the tide back as soon as possible.

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