Asian Americans and the Affirmative Action Debate in the United States

  • Mitchell James ChangEmail author
Living reference work entry


The controversy over the discrimination of Asian American applicants in college admissions in the United States has returned with even higher stakes. Unlike the complaints filed in the 1980s, the current set also targets the elimination of race-conscious admissions practices that were implemented to increase enrollment of underrepresented students at elite institutions, including those from African American and Latino populations. The purpose of this chapter is to make sense of this recurring admissions controversy by applying a critical race analysis toward interpreting the sociohistorical roots that animate this controversy. The results of this analysis undermine the characterization of those institutions as color-blind engines of upward mobility and instead portray them as guardians of dispensing and protecting the privileges accompanying whiteness. Broader implications of those findings for achieving greater racial equity and justice are discussed.


Asian American Race conscious admissions Affirmative action White privilege Critical race Selective admissions White supremacy Elitism U.S. Office of Civil Rights 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Radomir Compel

There are no affiliations available

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