Home Community Voices Affirmative Action, Going Forward

Affirmative Action, Going Forward

By David Yamaguchi
The North American Post

Like many, I read with dismay about the Supreme Court’s June 29th rollback of affirmative action in college admissions. Many Sansei and Yonsei we read about in this newspaper today may have benefitted from the advantage it provided at turning points in their lives.

Nonetheless, what is past is in the past. In the timeless words of Omar Khayyam, Persian mathematician and poet, “The moving hand once having writ, moves on.”

What are we going to do about it?

It seems to me that the Supreme Court decision highlights what we have always known at some level. It is mainly up to us to lift community youth ourselves.

As has been described by the “New York Times” (July 3), a major deficiency of affirmative action was that in practice it mainly affected admissions at highly selective colleges, where every edge matters (table). Thus, while it sounded great, it did little to touch the masses. It fell far short of boldly offsetting the social and economic inequities that have long been hallmarks of American society. Most Black and Hispanic college students have attended campuses where admission rates exceed 75 percent.

Example colleges with selective admissions rates

Data New York Times July 3 By comparison UW Seattle is at 54 40000<br >Black and Hispanic enrollment at UCLA and USC fell 40 when affirmative action was barred by California Proposition 209 in 1996 NPR June 30<br >Asterisks mark schools attended by Seattle area Sansei and Yonsei profiled in the NAP since 2016 Acceptance rates in their eras were not as stiff as they are now

One thing we can do is to make available abundant, stimulating reading materials for the youth in our families. My late father, an avid reader, did this for my siblings and me. Growing up, I read his newspapers and books simply because they were available at home.

We can also mentor young people, as well as make them aware of opportunities that have not been on their radars. Today at the NAP, we do a fair amount of both. Every few months, we work closely with a new young writer or two, commonly a university student or recent graduate, to help them hone their craft.

Four such young people I have enjoyed interacting with on these pages are Raechel Kundert, Benjamin Narkmon, Reika Nishiyama and Tiffany Nakamitsu. All have written enough to start being tracked by the journalism site, muckrack.com. Where these four will go and what they will do from here remains to be seen. But learning to express themselves in written word is a skill that will help them get there.

Third, we can do what we can to help local nonprofits prosper. This matters because many of them are positioned to spark young people’s interests in and curiosity about the world. Such flames, once kindled, will hopefully become self-sustaining.