‘Who are Asian Americans?’

U.C. Irvine sociology professor Jennifer Lee was interviewed recently by The Chronicle of Higher Education about the allegations by some organizations against Harvard’s admissions policies. The May 20, 2015, article is subscriber-only, but I wanted to share one part of the Q&A in which writer Peter Schmidt asks Prof. Lee about the divide among Asian Americans on this issue.  Her response:

I think the central question here is: Who are Asian-Americans? Are Asian-Americans only the hyperselected and the highly educated and those who fit this exceptional outcome, or are Asian-Americans willing to recognize the ethnic and class diversities of our communities?

Here I am thinking of Asian ethnic groups like Cambodian, Laotian, Hmong, who have higher high-school-dropout rates than African-Americans and Latinos. They are also Asian-Americans, and they would benefit from raceconscious
admissions.

The groups who have filed the complaints against Harvard tend to be those who are from the most highly educated segment of Asian-Americans, who are typically immigrants concerned about the educational opportunities of their children. I understand that, of course, but it is a very self-interested view, and fails to recognize the diversity of the Asian-American community.

Here’s the full article, again subscriber-only.