Asians for Black Lives hosts discussion on affirmative action

Tehreem Shahab

In the midst of an affirmative action debate spurred by a lawsuit against the University, Asians for Black Lives hosted a teach-in Wednesday to educate students about affirmative action. 

The event began with a brief clarification on affirmative action by Eric Tang, an associate professor in the African and African diaspora studies department. Tang said affirmative action has changed since Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, a case in which taking redressive action and setting aside a number of seats for people who were initially restricted from higher education institutions, was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Tang said race is now considered as one of many factors in the University admission process, which is not the same as affirmative action. 

“To say that we have affirmative action in the United States and that we need to defend it is not entirely correct,” Tang said. “Affirmative action means to engage in activity or policy that corrects past historical injustices. Setting aside a set number of seats is affirmative action. You can think of it as reparations.” 

As a part of the discussion, Tang posed the question of whether UT’s now top 6 percent rule favored students of certain backgrounds. Plan II and accounting junior Jay Anand said the top 6 percent rule is not helpful to minority students. 

“The top 6 percent rule tries to be race-blind, which is seen as fair,” Anand said. “But it isn’t, because a lot of people who benefit from it are from suburban areas and are of a higher socioeconomic background who have more resources for school and test preparation.” 

Tang said University admissions processes are still steeped in problematic practices. 

“A system that has routinely kept African-American numbers below 12 percent, despite having had a history of excluding them, is a system of white supremacy,” Tang said. 

Before ending the discussion, students discussed what they hoped to do to broaden the discussion of race and affirmative action, especially within Asian-American circles.

Asians for Black Lives member Quynhanh Tran said one of the organization’s goals is to increase activism within the Asian-American community. 

“I feel like there’s a lack of activism amongst Asian Americans in terms of supporting other communities of color,” Plan II junior Tran said. “So that’s one of our goals: educating ourselves on issues that other communities of color face.”