You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Asian Americans Emerging as a Strong Voice Against Critical Race Theory | Opinion

Newsweek logo Newsweek 3/9/2021 Helen Raleigh
A demonstrator wearing a face mask and holding a sign takes part in a rally to raise awareness of anti-Asian violence, near Chinatown in Los Angeles, California, on February 20, 2021. - The rally was organized in part in response to last month's fatal assault of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old immigrant from Thailand, in San Francisco. © RINGO CHIU / AFP/Getty A demonstrator wearing a face mask and holding a sign takes part in a rally to raise awareness of anti-Asian violence, near Chinatown in Los Angeles, California, on February 20, 2021. - The rally was organized in part in response to last month's fatal assault of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old immigrant from Thailand, in San Francisco.

Critical race theory (CRT) is a divisive, discriminatory ideology that judges people on the basis of their skin color. It has penetrated our society—it's in federal agencies' and federal contractors' "bias training," in school curricula and many corporations' "diversity training." Few are willing to speak out against it for fear of being labeled racists or white supremacists. Asian Americans, however, have emerged as a powerful voice against this pernicious ideology.

The Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York (CACAGNY) delivered the most vigorous rejection of CRT yet, calling it "a hateful, divisive, manipulative fraud." CACAGNY is one of the oldest chapters of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, which was founded in San Francisco in 1895 to respond to nationwide discrimination and violence against Chinese Americans. For more than a century, this organization has helped Asian Americans, especially Chinese Americans, to "quicken the spirit of American patriotism" and to "insure the legal rights of its members." CACAGNY speaks out against CRT now because Asian Americans have experienced its harm firsthand.

According to CRT's victimization ledger, all whites are oppressors, and all "people of color" are oppressed. CRT argues that unequal economic outcomes among different races in our society result from white power and white privilege. Asian Americans punch a big hole in that worldview. As a group, their economic achievement has surpassed that of all other racial groups, including whites. Last year's Department of Labor statistics even showed that the median weekly earnings of Asian women surpassed white men's earnings.

Values drive Asian Americans' economic success. Many believe in education attainment, stable marriages, delayed gratification, hard work and meritocracy. CRT attacks all these as "white" values, and the people who practice them as acting "white."

Because Asian Americans' economic achievement and educational attainment resist CRT narratives, irritated activists have tried to eject Asian Americans from the "people of color" category. Last November, the North Thurston public school district in Washington state released an "equity report" in which it grouped white and Asian American students together, while placing everyone else in the "students of color" category. The school district only apologized after an outcry from the community's Asian American families.

Even as victims of hate crimes, Asian Americans discredit CRT's assertion that racial prejudice only goes one way—from white people to people of color.

This year has seen a rising number of hate crimes against Asian Americans, especially in some of the most progressive cities in the United States. In San Francisco, an 84-year-old Thai immigrant died last month after being violently knocked to the ground during his morning stroll. In Oakland's Chinatown, 28-year-old Yahya Muslim aggressively shoved a 91-year-old Asian man to the pavement from behind and attacked two other Asian seniors. Also, in Oakland, in broad daylight, two young men attacked a 71-year-old Asian woman by "knocking her to the ground before yanking her purse so hard the strap breaks off."

In New York City, a young man used a box-cutter knife to slash Noel Quintana's face on a New York subway during the morning commute. Quintana, a 61-year-old Filipino immigrant, was rushed to the hospital, where he received more than 100 stitches.

CRT activists blame white nationalism for these hate crimes against Asian Americans. However, all perpetrators in these cases were non-Asian minorities. Asian Americans are concerned that CRT activists intentionally ignoring this inconvenient truth may result in the government misallocating resources and failing to protect Asian American communities from hate crimes.

Asian Americans have felt the most harm from CRT in education. Activists claim that teaching math and science perpetuates "white privilege." They're more interested in indoctrinating kids with identity politics, intersectionality and race struggles. In an elementary school in Cupertino, California, where 94 percent of the students are non-white, a math teacher told third-graders in a math class that they live in a white-dominated culture, and had them rank themselves according to their "power and privilege" on an identity map. Chinese parents organized a protest, demanding the school stop teaching racism to their children and start teaching actual math instead. One Chinese parent explained that CRT's emphasis on dividing society into oppressors and oppressed based on skin color reminded him of the bloody class struggle in Mao's Cultural Revolution.

Asian parents are also alarmed about attempts to change admissions standards for colleges and top high schools at the expense of Asian American children. CRT activists have been pushing for lowering admission standards—or the complete removal of difficult entrance exams—to top high schools because "too many Asians" are in good schools, and Asians are so "over-represented" that these schools are not "diverse." These were the arguments New York City mayor Bill de Blasio used to eliminate the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. He wanted to replace it with a new admissions process based on race, so the student bodies of New York City's elite public high schools would mirror the city's overall population composition and not be dominated by Asian kids. CACAGNY, along with Asian American families and other allies, fiercely protested the mayor's proposal. The mayor recanted after his failed presidential bid.

However, CRT activists found success in other places. Last year, the Fairfax County public school board in Virginia canceled the entrance exam for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Last month, the San Francisco Unified School District voted to eliminate the merit-based admission process to Lowell High School, one of the city's top high schools. The school board claimed such an admission process "perpetuates the culture of white supremacy and racial abuse towards Black and Latinx students," even though students of color make up 75 percent of Lowell's student body and more than half of them are Asian. Asian parents worry that eliminating merit-based admission will result in fewer admissions for qualified Asian students.

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

In Washington and California, CRT activists tried to restore affirmative action in employment and college admissions. One of their arguments was that Asian Americans were "overrepresented" in universities. Efforts in both states were defeated at the ballot box, mainly due to opposition by Asian Americans, who were concerned Asian students would be unfairly penalized in college admissions.

Many Asian Americans believe education is the way to achieve upward mobility and the American dream. They see any attempt to limit their children's access to quality education as unjust exclusion. That's why CACAGNY calls CRT "today's Chinese Exclusion Act" and "the real hate crime against Asians."

In an increasingly intolerant environment, calling out CRT takes tremendous courage. Those willing to speak up may face economic and reputational consequences. Asian Americans have spoken fearlessly and taken the lead to expose CRT's divisive and destructive nature. The rest of us should follow their example and join their effort to stop this harmful ideology from tearing apart our society.

Helen Raleigh, CFA, is an American entrepreneur, writer and speaker. Helen is the author of Backlash: How China's Aggression Has Backfired and Confucius Never Said. Follow her on Twitter: @HRaleighspeaks and visit her website: www.helenraleighspeaks.com.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

Start your unlimited Newsweek trial

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Newsweek

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon