Affirmative action has been under attack for decades, and AALDEF has been there to defend it since the 1970s.
Click here to read more about our activities and achievements. Affirmative action encompasses a broad array of race, ethnicity, and gender-conscious programs to promote equality of opportunity and racial diversity. This includes recruitment and outreach efforts as well as recognition of how a candidate enhances an institution's overall diversity, but never quotas. Quotas have long been illegal. Diversity considerations enable qualified individuals to gain fair access to employment, educational, and business opportunities.
The Model Minority Myth
Some people argue that Asian Americans do not need diversity considerations, and are hurt by it. They view Asian Americans as a "model minority" which has successfully integrated into all walks of society.
The truth is that Asian Americans are not a "model minority." Reports that Asian Americans have the highest household income and are generally academically successful hide a larger reality. For example, while Asian Americans may have household incomes equal to or greater than whites, they also have, on average, more individuals contributing to a family's household income. This helps explain the higher household (but not per capita) income level.
While some Asian ethnic groups have low poverty rates, other segments - particularly Southeast Asians and recent immigrants - have poverty levels far exceeding the national average. Asian Americans in the workplace also face a "glass ceiling," which limits their advancement into management and executive positions, and earn less than white counterparts with comparable education.
Similarly, Asian Americans are often portrayed as "whiz kids" who are overrepresented in the nation's top educational institutions. While a segment of our student population is highly visible on many university campuses, this has masked the hidden educational needs of other Asian Americans.
Benefits of Affirmative Action Policies
Asian Americans benefit from affirmative action in many ways, including enabling underrepresented Asian Americans to achieve equal access to college, reducing the isolation of students of color on campus, and preparing youth to be leaders in our multicultural society. For a full discussion on the benefits of diversity considerations, see our FAQs on the recent Supreme Court case, Fisher v. UT-Austin.