Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Affirmative Action from an Filipino-American Point of View

There are two articles worth noting by Filipino-Americans on Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the principle of race-based affirmative action. The first is from an American Spectator article by Robert Garcia Tagorda, a Filipino-American due to attend the Harvard Kennedy School of Government this fall. Tagorda cites his own experience to demonstrate how Filipinos by a quirk of categorization, are placed in the same handicap category as Japanese-Americans, while Mexicans with whom he shares a greater cultural similarity, are given preference. That meant, in Tagorda's own experience, that a preferred minority with a lower GPA and a similar extracurricular achievement standard meant that he lost out.

In 1996, my high school sweetheart and I ranked atop our class. I had a grade-point average above 4.30 and she just slightly below. As I co-captained the volleyball team and co-founded the poetry club, she entered swim meets and helped coordinate the honor society. After school, she tutored elementary students, and I delivered pizza. We served as student senators, volunteered at local charities, and scored 1270 on the SAT (I later retook the exam and reached the 1300s). Besides enjoying the same education, we lived in comparable middle-class Los Angeles County neighborhoods. With nearly identical records and backgrounds, we applied to the same top schools, including Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Claremont McKenna College.

The similarities ended there. Though we both had immigrant backgrounds, her family came from Mexico and mine from the Philippines. Eventually, whereas she earned admission to all but one school, I got rejected from all but one school. Of two equal candidates, university officials preferred the Mexican American to the Filipino American.

Due to a bug in blogger which prevents long posts, this is being continued below.