Social Justice Policies in Education Lead to Wasting Talents: President of ‘Color Us United’

By Ella Kietlinska
Ella Kietlinska
Ella Kietlinska
Reporter
Ella Kietlinska is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.
and Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Senior Editor
Jan Jekielek is a Senior Editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, "American Thought Leaders." Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, & international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as Website Chief Editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film "Finding Manny."
July 26, 2021 Updated: July 29, 2021

Affirmative action adopted by Ivy League universities such as Harvard in their admissions programs is an attack on excellence in American culture because it denies admission to other students who scored higher on the entrance exams, said Kenny Xu, author and president of the organization “Color Us United.”

Moreover, the culture that disparages minority students for achieving in schools—driven by equity—leads to dumbing down the best and brightest of the next generation, Xu told EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program.

As a result, America may lose its competitive edge on the international arena to countries such as China or India that “have no qualms about race,” Xu warned.

Harvard’s admissions system is set up to admit more black and Hispanic students who are actually less qualified than the people that have to be rejected in order to ensure racial balancing, Xu explained, adding that those people, who are cut out from being admitted to higher education institutions, are Asian Americans.

“Asian Americans have to score 440 points higher to have the same chance of admission as a black student. … In order to help one minority you have to exclude another minority, and this is why Asian Americans are the inconvenient minority,” said Xu, who wrote the book “An Inconvenient Minority: The Attack on Asian American Excellence and the Fight for Meritocracy.”

Xu noted that usually people of different races in America “hold a positive assessment of their own race.”

“But white progressives are the only group that has a lower assessment of their own race than of other races” because of the idea of white guilt embraced by progressivism, Xu continued, “you are infused with a kind of white privilege, and you need to give it away.”

Harvard, a prestigious university with about a $40 billion endowment, is a very privileged place to go to so the progressive elites at Harvard tried to solve the problem of white privilege through the admissions system, the author said.

“They claim to be attacking white supremacy, but really, they’re attacking meritocracy. Really, they’re attacking colorblindness.”

“Our admissions process [at Harvard] values academic excellence, but never reduces applicants to any one factor, such as grades or test scores. Decisions to admit an applicant are made by the full, diverse, 40-person admissions committee through which each member has one vote,” according to the university’s statement.

“Race is one of many factors that Harvard considers in evaluating each applicant as a whole person, an approach that helps create a diverse campus community where students from all walks of life have the opportunity to share ideas and learn from each other,” the statement said.

Asian Americans, who strongly believe in meritocracy often come to America as poor without social connections or privilege, Xu noted.

“They come here with a simple belief that if you work hard in this country, you can achieve and you can be successful and they have been successful because of that belief. But now that belief is under attack, and it’s being called systemically racist.”

Xu thinks that Asian Americans need to step up to defend the “country’s founding values where you want to be treated on the basis of the content of your character, not the color of your skin.”

“That is Martin Luther King’s principle of race blindness, of race-blind meritocracy where you can achieve no matter what kind of color of your skin you are.”

Dumbing Down Minority Students

Epoch Times Photo
Fifth graders Azariah Drungo (L) and Noah Calendar, review a prototype eyeglass for a group entrepreneurial project developed in a mentorship program at Brooklyn’s P.S. 307 in New York, on Thursday, May 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Xu claimed that social justice policies negatively impacted the achievements of minority students in schools, providing the New York City public school system as an example.

The city has always been highly black and Hispanic. In the 60s and the 70s in New York there was a large proportion of “black Americans who were high achieving, from elementary school to on the middle school level, and then gotten through the high school level, but something in between the 80s and the 90s, and the 2000s, prompted this drastic slide in black and Hispanic representation at these high schools,” Xu said.

In the late 80s, early 90s, progressive educators in New York City sought to get rid of Gifted and Talented Programs in the city’s school system, because they believed that these programs “would privilege certain students, the wealthy and the powerful,” Xu continued.

“Over half of [those programs] were cut in the 90s and 2000s. And as a result, the pipeline of gifted black and Hispanic achievement in New York City went down.”

At that time, there was also grade inflation in New York City public schools where a lot of teachers sought to “pass students even though all standardized metrics would suggest they wouldn’t pass,” Xu said.

He provided in his book an example of a middle school where pass rates reached 85 to 90 percent, while pass rates on the corresponding math exam were only 12 to 30 percent.

Meanwhile, Asian immigrants had started moving into the city. Despite the fact that Asians have the highest poverty rate in New York City, out of all of the racial groups, they were able to advance their school achievements because “they were less reliant upon the public school system,” he explained.

“Their parents would spend, what limited savings they would have, to send their kids to extracurricular programs to study and to do the requisite work to be able to become proficient and advanced. And as a result, you had Asians who were studying over the weekends and after school to be able to achieve, and eventually, they did.”

There are a lot of smart black and Hispanic kids in New York City, who have high intelligence and were at the top of their class but they were not able to be taught a curriculum that would give them the opportunity to be able to achieve at the level in which they can be sufficiently challenged, Xu said.

Oftentimes, the culture at some of these underperforming schools is that students with academic achievement are perceived as acting white and seen as being an Uncle Tom, Xu explained.

As a result, “they’re being forced back down into the middle of the student body,” Xu said.

“If you are not able to build a culture, where people are challenged … you waste that intellect, you waste that intelligence of those people. And so for the sake of equity, we are dumbing down the best and brightest of our next generation. And so that’s why you see this huge slide in black and Hispanic representation at these gifted and talented high schools in New York City.”

“America will quickly find itself as supplanted—a country supplanted by the likes of China, by the likes of India, by the likes of countries that have no qualms about race and those kinds of things, and are able to train their technocratic elite.”

Attack on Excellence and Personal Responsibility

Xu believes the fact that Asian Americans achieve through hard work and personal responsibility does not fit the narrative of white supremacy upheld by the left.

The left claims that “Asian achievement in the United States [is] not based in hard work, it’s about ‘proximity to whiteness,’” Xu said.

“This is how you get to the point where Asian Americans are being described as part of this white supremacy structure.”

Asian Americans are able to surpass white Americans in terms of household income, standardized test scores, and college attendance, Xu noted.

“You have Asian Americans [who] have higher two-parent family structures, they have lower rates of crime, they have lower rates of drug use. If you adopt the principles of American excellence in this country, you can achieve and it’s not based on your race.”

Ella Kietlinska
Ella Kietlinska
Reporter
Ella Kietlinska is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.
Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Senior Editor
Jan Jekielek is a Senior Editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, "American Thought Leaders." Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, & international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as Website Chief Editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film "Finding Manny."