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Hasan Minhaj on Affirmative Action

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From a reader:

I highly recommend the episode of “Patriot Act,” comedian Hasan Minhaj’s new Netflix show, where he explicitly takes on the bogus lawsuits now underway which are seeking to dismantle affirmative action in higher education under the claim that these measures (which aim to overcome past and current discrimination against Black people) actually discriminate against Asian-Americans.

Affirmative action has been under attack for so long, with racist forces hijacking and perverting much of the language of the civil rights movement, that many who once supported it are now completely defensive about it, and most millennials have probably never heard a robust defense of it.

But affirmative action, as Minhaj shows compellingly, really matters—even as it is not a full solution to racist discrimination in higher education. Noting, for example, that Caltech—which does not have affirmative action—had only nine Black students in 2012, he scoffed, “There are more Black people in the Wu-Tang Clan.”

What makes this episode so powerful—and so enjoyable to watch—is not only Minhaj's fierce moral opposition to the racism at the core of the attack on affirmative action and not just his biting yet endearing humor, but also his robust substantiation of his argument with hard-hitting facts and truthful statistics. He shows that there is no honest basis for the claims that affirmative action discriminates against white people or against Asians. With wide arms, Minhaj sharply challenges the Asians and South Asians who have gotten caught up in the drive to dismantle affirmative action to knock it off. He reminds people of the way that Chinese and other immigrants have long been discriminated against in this country and calls on these communities to carry forward the much more positive legacy many have had of fighting against this discrimination and in standing with others who face the same in different forms. And, yes, he does it all with humor, warmth, and high production value.

For a deeper examination of the history of affirmative action—both the struggle that gave rise to it and the ongoing efforts of this system and the racists it continually spawns to dismantle it—and a look at what it will ultimately take to overcome past and ongoing discrimination against Black people and other oppressed nationalities, see this 2013 article from Supreme Court ruling in Fisher v. U. of Texas: Supreme Court Tightens Noose Around Affirmative Action.



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