The Silent Minority: Unexamined Racial Discrimination in Contemporary America

by / 4 Comments / 2869 View / September 1, 2014

Outrage at the recent events in Ferguson has induced a miniature revolution of sorts, changing attitudes and headlines alike. However, as I scrolled through my daily dose of news, an article on the Washington Post caught my eye. Titled “Three quarters of whites don’t have any non-white friends” by Chris Ingram, it analyzed the problem of how “white Americans have an astonishing 91 times as many white friends as black friends”.

SILENTPICTURE

 

As I read the graphic, I could not help examining the statistics for my own demographic: Asians. I found that similar to black Americans, white Americans have the same astonishing 91 times as many Asian friends as black friends. But looking at the black American statistics, black Americans have an infinite (that’s right, ) number of friends of any other race than that of Asians.

While I originally expected the article to reveal groundbreaking evidence that those elitist white people were purposefully only friending other elitist white people, it quickly became evident that the title was a jarring misnomer, designed purposely to take advantage of post-Ferguson sentiment. While disappointed at the former, the striking data does propose alienation of another group: the Asians.

In retrospect, it is indeed hard to say whether similar outrage and subsequent protests would have been induced if Michael Brown were instead Ming Bo, a poor Asian immigrant. However, one thing is certain: while the world looks upon East Asia for the next global superpowers and the success of their inhabitants, it firmly rejects the idea that these thriving people are also being intimidated and oppressed.

However, if there truly is segregation, in what ways and where?

Perhaps the most prominent case is in education. While I still believe in the merits of affirmative action, the statistics I recently found shocked me.

One of the many cases include the book No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal by Princeton professor of sociology Thomas Espenshade and researcher Alexandria Walton Radford. Studying admissions records and statistics, they found what looks like different standards for different racial groups. They calculated that Asian-Americans needed nearly perfect SAT scores of 1550, (equivalent of 2325 in the new SAT) to have the same chance of being accepted at a top private university as whites who scored 1410 (equivalent of 2115) and African-Americans who got 1100 (equivalent of 1650). More shocking data was that whites were three times, Hispanics six times, and blacks more than 15 times as likely to be accepted at a US university than Asian-Americans.

At this point, I internally rejected the argument. The SAT and one’s GPA are far from the most important factors in college admission. Leadership, extracurricular activities, and recommendations may play integral parts, parts where Asians may be lacking.

Nevertheless, more data proved otherwise.

California’s state schools are better representations of admissions without affirmative action. At these schools, Asian-Americans are much better represented. This is because in 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, a law that prevented Affirmative Action and made entry into public colleges -including the huge University of California (UC) system – entirely race-blind. Now, 52 percent of the student population at the University of California at Irvine, 40 percent at Berkeley, and 37 percent at UCLA are Asian (Marcus Web). Instead of being stereotypical test-taking factories, however, the UC schools still manage to thrive in all areas: from academics to athletics, science to poetry.

The difference suggests that, where considering race is allowed, elite universities may be handicapping Asian-American applicants. “They just all sort of magically end up with under 20 percent Asian students,” Stephen Hsu, a professor of physics at the University of Oregon, says. One Princeton lecturer has asked if that number represents the “Asian ceiling.”

Overall, the technological and social advances of our generation have, for the first time in history, given a platform and voice for this silent minority to speak. The shooting of Michael Brown was a grave tragedy; one that brought international attention to the plight of 21st century discrimination against African Americans. But like the great civil movements in the 1960’s, this spark that ignited our nation should not only illuminate the struggles of one racial group. Ideally, the fire would burn down every racial barrier and stereotype that seeps into everyday life, creating a conflagration of peace and warmth.

 

References:

Espenshade, Thomas J., Alexandria Walton Radford, and Chang Young. Chung. No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2009. Print.

Ingram, Chris. “Three Quarters of Whites Don’t Have Any Non-white Friends.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2014. Web. 14 Aug. 2014.

Kuo, Peter. “Save Our American Dream: Fight Reverse Discrimination in College Admissions.” Breitbart News Network. 26 July 2014. Web. 31 Aug. 2014.

Marcus, Jon. “High-achieving Asian-Americans Are Being Shut out of Top Schools.” Boston.com. The New York Times, 17 Apr. 2011. Web. 31 Aug. 2014.

  • abc

    How can you even BEGIN to compare the discrimination that Blacks and Latinos face with that of Asians? Comparing Michael Brown to “Ming Bo” is like comparing apples to oranges. Blacks face unfair, unprovoked police aggression at a rate that Asians do not.

    Now, let’s get to the education argument. You say that California is a great example. I urge you to look at the population of California. California and New Jersey have the highest percentage of Asians. Thus, it would make sense that a STATE school would be representative of the state population. Also, please look at the facts. For Harvard Admission statistics, 20% admitted are Asian compared to 13% Latinos and 12% Blacks. This trend follows for the other top universities. Yet, Asians actually make up less of the population than Latinos and Blacks do.

    My point is please do not make this an equal comparison. I do agree that events in Ferguson should open up a wider discussion, but I think it is important to make this clarification. I think minority treatment could improve across the board, but we should not clump all minorities together.

    • Swag swag

      I feel as if a lot of people are not aware of the discrimination against asian american, although I would agree with you that its not the same there has been a lot of discrimination against them in the past two centuries. Look into violence against Korean Americans that took place in LA during the 1990s as well as the murder of Vincent Chin which was perpetuated by people who believed that asian cars were destroying the American auto industry. I’m not saying that Asian American Discrimination is as bad as it is for others but it shouldn’t be ignored.

    • Dan

      ah, actually schools like Harvard are trying hard enough to reduce their asian students and increase the number of black students.(because of people complaining in the format that you just did). the average SAT score of an asian student accepted into a top tier university is more than 100 points higher than that of a black student. In my opinion if these schools did not put caps on the number of asian students admitted and just picked the best students regardless of their race, asians would make up more than 50 percent of their student body because academic excellence is simply a much more important part of their culture. So if you’re looking at elite university admission alone(since you brought it up), I think it is accurate to say that black students are the most advantaged and asian students, the least.

  • Noam

    The discrimination that asian americans face, and the discrimination that african americans face are TWO completely difference things