The Rise and Fall of Affirmative Action
With a lawsuit against Harvard, Asian-American activists have formed an alliance with a white conservative to change higher education.
By. Hua Hsu
Stories of Asian-Americans penalized by élite schools are amplified by Chinese-immigrant newspapers and social media.
Illustration by Tim Enthoven
As the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was remapping the rights of America’s minority populations, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which favored skilled labor, and attracted young science and engineering students from Asia, was reshaping who those minorities were.
In 2012, Michael Wang, a senior at James Logan High School, in the Bay Area, was confident that he had done enough to get into one of his dream schools: Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Princeton. He had the kind of G.P.A.—4.67—that looks like a typo to anyone older than thirty-five. He had aced the ACT and placed in the ninety-ninth percentile on the SAT. But Wang didn’t want to be seen merely as a bookworm—he was an accomplished member of the speech-and-debate team, and he had co-founded his school’s math club. He played the piano and performed in a choir that sang with the San Francisco Opera, and at Barack Obama’s first Inauguration.