Affirmative action in the eyes of new Chinese Americans


A split in the Chinese community in America over diversity, racial identity, and discrimination.

Chinese America is divided…

Chinese Americans of earlier generations often had liberal political views and voted Democrat.
But many newer immigrants have a different outlook, and no issue has been more divisive than affirmative action at American universities.

Affirmative action is a policy of favoring members of a disadvantaged group who have suffered from discrimination.

The division in Chinese America was laid bare in 2014 in California. The state senate approved Constitutional Amendment No. 5 (SCA-5). It would have cleared the way for universities in California to reinstate affirmative action programs, which would have impacted Asian-American students.

The bill became intensely controversial in the Asian-American community. Many high-testing students had benefited from race-blind admissions.

Since 1996, when race-based admissions were outlawed in California, more than 35 percent of the UCLA undergraduate student body has been Asian American.

SCA-5 divided Chinese Americans into two groups. Some said that this bill legalized racial discrimination.

Andy Xu: I’m here to protest SCA-5 because if I go to Stanford, if I want to go to Stanford and then I take the test, they say my score is good. But just because I’m Asian they say I can’t go in. I think this is just discrimination. I think this is just like segregation. I felt like this is unfair, so I would like to end SCA-5.

However, others supported it. Evan Low, the mayor at the time of Campbell, California.

There are no quotas and so there’s a lot of misinformation that’s out there. We need to acknowledge and thank Senator Hernandez for the intent of trying to expand the pool of opportunity and access for all underserved communities in California.

After intense debate, on March 17, 2014, SCA-5 died in the state assembly.

Today, Chinese America still remains divided due to its different political views and experiences.