Smart Doesn’t Include a Color

Many universities, including Harvard, have been making changes to the way they evaluate their students. There are two specific situations I would like to address: the extra SAT points being granted to Hispanic and African American students and the removal of Asian Americans as “people of color” due to their success in many areas.

First, let’s talk about the granting and regulating of SAT scores. Many schools enforce similar regulations as Harvard, but since this university is prominent, let’s use it as an example:

Harvard notices that Asians and Caucasians are testing significantly higher than all the other minorities. Harvard grants Hispanics and African Americans extra points. In some other schools around the country, they additionally raise Asian American test standards above all else. Harvard and other schools enforcing these changes, imply that they are being equal to people of color.

From a quick glance, this seems like a humanitarian effort for equality. If you begin to critically think about this system, however, you will see the polarities. Granting points means that these students will qualify into the curriculum whether they are ready or not. The percentage of students who are not prepared, will subsequently have difficulty with the curriculum and, at worst, fail. This will be detrimental to confidence and self esteem.

If the schools really cared about Hispanic and African Americans performance in education, they would look at the root of the problem Why are they testing low? Is it from having inadequate resources or from a troubled childhood? What caused these troubles? How did that cause come to be? Dive deep into the family structure and home life of children and provide the support from the start. With the balance between students thrown off, according to the color of their skin, we will only see statistics worsen but with more damaging consequences for these students. We need to help students of all colors to pass testing by ensuring the resources and tackling the set backs at the roots. Granting extra points endorses the idea that Hispanics and African Americans are not capable of being as smart as whites. This asserts the very problem that needed support and then becomes the focal point of identity. This will be damaging to minority children and the way they perceive their peers, and even more importantly, themselves.

In addition to these changes, many schools are raising the testing standards for Asian Americans or eliminating them completely from being people of color or a minority. Asian Americans are among the highest test scorers in education. This minority group has succeeded regardless of the race label they have worn. If we genuinely wanted the best and most success for minorities, wouldn’t we praise this and look at why they are advancing ahead of their peers and how we can incorporate these factors for all minorities? For example, one factor that contributes to Asian American children’s success in education is the high percentage of two parent households. Instead of taking factors like this and making them a reality for other minorities, we instead strip Asian American students from their heritage and identity, and label them as white. This implies that no matter what your race or color is, being superior in knowledge can only be a characteristic of white Americans.

The problem with both these situations I have described is that the underlying message to these actions is that people of color simply cannot be smart. Lowering testing mandates for Hispanics and African Americans is not supporting their intellect from child to adult, it’s supporting the notion that they are incapable and ultimately, inferior. Eliminating Asians as minorities, due to high test scores, is supporting that people of color must be white if they test too high.

These are the perspective being instilled in the next generation and they are hidden behind the idea that these schools care about the success of minorities. But, like many situations with minorities, they want to place a bandaid on the situation rather than prevent the wounds from happening. Asian Americans are attacked for their success because we break the agenda that race means you need handouts and are inevitably poverty stricken. Instead of understanding why this racial group has beat all the odds of being a minority in America, we treat it as a privilege. A privilege is an advantage you have over others, but it is clear that the Asian American community experienced equally challenging hardships as other minority Americans have and therefore, received absolutely no privilege in their success towards the American dream.

Acknowledging this break through will allow inspiration for all minorities that the color of their skin, or label of their race, does not make them intellectually inferior to white Americans. With the the right foundation, all Americans are capable of achieving anything they aspire to become because under these colors and labels, we are all equally intelligent individuals.

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