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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Asian American Perceptions of Affirmative Action


Confusion regarding affirmative action programs combined with ambiguous and secretive college admission processes have generated a growing resentment amongst the Asian American community specifically in the ways that they view other racial and ethnic minorities. Although affirmative action is popularly believed to disadvantage Asian Americans, this paper makes the case that the false narrative of affirmative action is more harmful to Asian Americans than affirmative action programs themselves because of how these misconceptions generate intense divisions within the Asian American community. After a brief personal preface, this paper establishes the historical origins of the affirmative action myth as well as introduces research that shows how negative portrayals of affirmative action are misleading. After discussing the current consequences of repealing affirmative action in college admissions, the second part of this paper investigates contemporary views of affirmative action from both students and parents who identify as Asian American. Lastly, this paper discusses applications of the research findings to modern Asian American movements towards self-determination.

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