This week, after the racially-motivated attacks in Atlanta, Georgia, Jeremi and Zachary talk with Professor Madeline Hsu about Asian American History and exclusion in the United States. Zachary reads his poem, “Like a Bullet.”
Yesterday, UT’s Department of History issued a statement in support of UT’s Asian & Asian American community. Read the full statement at http://bit.ly/3tGGQBA. Colleagues at the department website, NOT EVEN PAST, have compiled and are still currently collecting resources & information on the mass shootings in Atlanta: http://bit.ly/3f8yJK7.
- Madeline HsuProfessor of History at the University of Texas at Austin
[0:00:05 Speaker 2] Yeah, this is Democracy, a podcast about the people of the United States, a podcast about citizenship, about engaging with politics and the world around you. A podcast
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[0:00:24 Speaker 1] welcome to our new episode of this is democracy. In recent days and weeks and months, uh, the United States has experienced an appreciable rise in anti Asian American violence within our country. Hatred expressed in many forms and direct violence against Asian Americans, most recently in the city of Atlanta, where at least six Asian American workers were attacked by a citizen and killed. We are today going to examine the history of Asian Americans in American society. Uh, the role, the controversy and in particular, the reasons for the hatred and exclusion that has surrounded the Asian American experience. In addition to the evidence of incredible Asian American participation, patriotism and success in American history, we’re joined by, I think, the person who has written some of the most important books and articles on this topic, and someone who teaches these issues to so many students. Uh, my colleague Madeleine Hsu, good morning,
[0:01:38 Speaker 2] Madeline
[0:01:39 Speaker 0] In Morning.
[0:01:40 Speaker 1] Madeline is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin. She served as the director of our Center for Asian American Studies from 2006 to 2014. Uh, Madeline was born in Columbia, Missouri, but she grew up in Taiwan and Hong Kong while she also visited her grandparents at their store in Alzheimer’s Arkansas. And as I mentioned, uh, Professor Xu is one of the most prolific and highly regarded, uh, researchers and authors on the topic of Asian American history. Her first book, uh, was titled A Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home, Wonderful Title, Trans Nationalism and Migration between the United States and South Asia in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century. Her more recent book, Uh, Good Immigrants. How the Yellow Peril became the Model Minority really a fantastic examination not just of the Asian American experience but of immigration in the United States in general, a book I highly recommend. I read it a number of years ago, and I’ve used it with many students of Asian American history and immigration in general. She also wrote very recently Asian American history, a very short introduction to a very large topic. And she is the co editor of an anthology. A Nation of Immigrants reconsidered US society in an age of restriction from 1920 for the date of an infamous, uh, immigration act that excluded Asian Americans as well as many others. Through 8 1965. Before we turn to our discussion of the Asian American experience and exclusion, uh, and controversy with Madeleine Hsu, we have, of course, our scene setting poem from Mr Zachary series. Zachary. What’s the title of your poem today?
[0:03:29 Speaker 2] Like a bullet?
[0:03:31 Speaker 1] Well, let’s hear
[0:03:32 Speaker 2] it. What does he see as he stares at my eyes. You are about to tell him about the first time you saw my fair lady when the train jolts and he leaps off, still glaring at you as the elevated train pulls away in long leaping spurts, could he push a grandmother to the ground just to see narrower eyes cry? You are left to unravel the ghostly black threads to try and follow them like old photographs backwards in time, up and around the overhead handlebars and out the window of the train into the open air where am I? That is so beautiful. It is Chicago or Philadelphia. Or maybe it’s LA scene from a jet liner. But actually, you’re on a Greyhound bus staring out at a cornfield. What is that blinding burst of red behind the oak tree? You ask from your seat at the back of the bus. It is the flag on a farm house hidden behind the ancient oak. It reflects the sun or is lit by a spotlight. Or maybe in truth, it is on fire. Where am I that is so familiar? You stand on a suburban Atlanta street in the early hours of a humid afternoon, you stand in the middle of the road and wait for a reminder of where exactly you are. 12345678 What was that? In a flash? It seems you are back on the bus and you can still see the flag on fire in front of the farmhouse. Except now the tree isn’t there. You can see the whole flag and you can tell now that it’s burning and the bus is moving faster now much faster. And all you can do is watch the fire go by like a bullet.
[0:05:16 Speaker 1] Zachary. That’s a very powerful poem. What is it really about?
[0:05:21 Speaker 2] The poem is really about the ways in which Asian American history, uh, is so complex and so emotional, and and the ways in which it has been shoved under the rug for so long, Uh, and how it is suddenly coming forth into the public discourse and really becoming a topic that that everyone is talking about and and how it’s becoming a cornerstone of our national discussion in the past few days.
[0:05:47 Speaker 1] So it’s it’s something that’s been there but been ignored for so
[0:05:50 Speaker 2] long.
[0:05:52 Speaker 1] Uh, Madeline, I think this is this is the appropriate place to turn to you when
[0:05:57 Speaker 0] we
[0:05:58 Speaker 1] think about the Asian American experience in the United States. When should we really begin? When does that story really begin? And and and how should we think about the
[0:06:07 Speaker 2] origins of this story?
[0:06:09 Speaker 0] So I want to start by thanking Zachary for that really moving contemplation of our present moment and the ways in which our nation is really rife with all kinds of symbols and, um, indicators of, um, deeply rooted racial problems. Um, Asian American history, as exactly explained, is, um, and the presence of Asian Americans, particularly for the last half century or so. People have not really been paying much attention because we’re assumed to be and viewed as a model minority. Highly accomplished, um, relatively well integrated. Um, and I think many people embrace this as a way of showing that the United States can move past its, uh, deeply problematic, deeply troublesome racial history of inequality and exploitation and discrimination. The truth is, and this is why it’s important to pay attention to history is that, um, Asians have been racialized from even before they came to the United States. And so, going as far back as the 17 90 Nationality Act, which is the first effort by Congress to set terms for what persons and what processes, uh, produce, uh, can transform immigrants into citizens. And so this law restricted, uh, citizenship by naturalization, and this is intrinsic right to the nation of immigrants. How people who arrive who are born in other places, come to the United States and are able to qualify to participate in our democratic society. That law restricted citizenship to, And I quote here, uh, free white persons in practice, this meant white male property owners, which, not coincidentally, sounds a lot like our the generation of our founding fathers. Um, the This law then had the effect of turning all persons of color, uh, into non citizens, even those who had been present in the United States for generations. Right? Of course. I’m referring to Native Americans to enslaved black Americans and then Asians before they even arrive or institutionally non citizens their eternal Warners. This racial restriction on citizenship targeting Asians remains on the books until 1952. So for most of us history, Asian immigrants have been categorically legally considered to be foreigners in a similar herbal. Uh, you know, and in terms of their legal rights in terms of their efforts to claim American lives, face this, um, intractable barrier. Now, immigration laws, uh, the United States undertakes to try to systematically restrict immigration. Um, after it sets aside the issue of slavery and also reconstruction. This happens in 18 75. The earliest, uh, immigration restrictions targeted Chinese as a race. Um, the racial restriction on Asian immigration remains on the book. Asians remain tracked by their race until 1965 again. This is for the bulk of U. S. Immigration history. And so, uh, this has broader implications. Because if you are a non citizen, if you are seen as an alien, uh, and this is a legal status you actually have are very, very vulnerable. You’re vulnerable to detention and deportation. It’s in fact, speaks of a significant level of violence. Uh, so, um, as one example dating back to this earlier period and here I’m citing the work of Beth Lou Williams. Um, the Chinese must go. The first Chinese restriction laws were passed in the early 18 eighties, uh, Americans in the West. So, uh, here, particularly in Wyoming territory, rock screens massacre found that despite passage of those laws, there was still Chinese around that Chinese were working in mines and agriculture. Um, the miners, Euro American miners in Rock Springs. We’re very upset. They organized, and they sought to physically expel Chinese from their myths. Uh, so many Chinese were injured. Many Chinese died. They were physically driven away, inspired by this example leading citizens. And we’re talking about, you know, sort of established business people. People into elective office in the towns of Tacoma and Seattle, uh, saw what happened in Rock Springs and undertook organized their own expulsion campaigns. And so, in 18, 85 18, 86 most Chinese from the Pacific Northwest, we’re actually physically driven out, forced to leave subject to violence. Uh, this is, um, an extension of, uh and it helps you to see sort of the consequences when particular populations are viewed as being foreign. They are identified by race. They are not considered to have rights or the capacity even to settle in the United States and make lives. Even though many of them were very gainfully employed, they had businesses. They were actively participating in their different communities. Uh, they would have liked to have families. Many of them were legally have very few options in terms of marrying and having bringing up Children in the United States. And so there’s a long history of, um, Asian person’s ethnic Asians in the United States being seen as, uh, foreigners that they never settle here in this country. They are racially marked, um, and also, um, disposable. Uh, so what happens in this most recent year? And so the Atlantic killings attracted significant national attention to what had already been a year of intensifying hostility to Asian Americans and Asians in the United States. Um, the way in which the coronavirus pandemic was spoken about, uh, the ongoing, uh, difficult relationship with China, which in itself is also highly nationalistic and very, very chauvinistic. Um has really made conditions much more difficult for Asian Americans in this country. As you noted in your introductory comments there this past year, there has been a surge in anti Asian, uh, attacks, Um, incidents. Um, as Zack we talked about in this poem. Many old people, people just sort of going about their daily business have just been randomly attacked physically, Verbally, it’s been it’s become very, very nerve wracking just to try to be in the United States and just to have a regular life. Uh, these, uh, flames have been fueled by a number of our political leaders who use inflammatory language to blame China for the what is actually a natural, uh, production of this, uh, this very, very, uh, infectious and deadly germ which does not operate on the basis of racial differentiation? Um, there’s also been, uh, the ongoing, um, demonization of China and by extension, many Chinese or Chinese looking persons. Uh, and so these attacks. Um, I think, in my view, these the killings in Atlanta actually speak to older, uh, and more latent forms of hostility and stereotyping, particularly of Asian women. I can talk about that, but it’s, um there is a deep history in the United States of anti Asian discrimination. It runs in parallel to be ways in which, um, black Americans have been racialized Native Americans and then also Mexican Americans, but is no less a, uh, long aspect of this nation’s history.
[0:15:38 Speaker 2] So you talked about how there were so many barriers, both both violence and illegal to, uh, Asian American settlement in the United States and Asian American citizenship. Um, but at the same time, we see a development of a very large Asian American community in the United States. Despite those restrictions, many of whom are citizens because by birth, um, how how did those that that community begin to contribute to American democracy and and and and fight for their own rights? Even amidst these nationalistic battles, I’m thinking of World War Two and Japanese internment camps that actually saw greater oppression of Asian Americans.
[0:16:22 Speaker 0] So the Asian American population stays pretty small until 1965 1965 is when the United States finally removes racial criteria from its immigration laws, although the loss continue to have differential racial impacts. Uh, and so after 1965 we’ve seen a geometric increase in the Asian American population. Before that, um, the Asian American population, uh, there are small numbers. There’s a gender imbalance because of the immigration laws that last really into the 19 seventies and so but there some were able to form families. And, um, the Children from those families had birthright citizenship. This is a result of the 14th Amendment, which was an effort during reconstruction, to try to legally institutionalized the integration and inclusion of African Americans. The language of that amendment states, though, that all persons, um and the Supreme Court ruling on the a precedent setting citizenship case of Wang Kim Ark determined that the language of that amendment, all persons, regardless of race or status of their parents who were born in the United States in fact had citizenship. And this was has been the major toe hold the major way for which, um uh, not just Chinese immigrants, all Asian immigrants, but all immigrants in general. Um, and for those arriving without prior authorization have been able to try to sink roots and establish themselves, um, in the United States. So, for example, uh, the category aliens ineligible for citizenship, which was a legal term for Asians, uh, in the United States dating back to the 17 90 Nationality Act. Um, the many Western states passed alien land laws to bar aliens ineligible from citizenship to buy to rent to lease farmland. Uh, this particularly targeted Japanese Americans who, some of whom, if they had kids born in the United States, who were you as citizens would then try to place their property or to purchase property in the names of, um, their U. S born progeny? And so this is one way that they were actually, I mean literally to try to sink roots in the United States. However, you know, focusing on Japanese Americans. By the time we get to World War Two, we have one of the worst civil rights. Um uh, violations in U. S. History. So, during World War Two, the U. S. Entry into that war was precipitated by Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and this sort of the United States being attacked on its own territory really galvanized the public and then mobilize the American people to finally, um, so that FDR could finally enter the United States into the war. There was tremendous hatred and hostility towards Japanese people to the extent that immediately, the very next day, December 8, uh, they already started rounding up Japanese American community leaders, placing them into incarceration camps. Uh, the Japanese American community wore frozen in place. They were placed under curfew, their assets were frozen. And then FDR issued executive order 9066 which ordered that all Japanese Americans living within 100 miles of the West Coast should be rounded up and taken away because it was that coastal region was claimed to be a militarily sensitive zone. And so, uh, this principle of military necessity is still on the books. It’s still something that the United States can call upon to target certain populations. And what happened to Japanese Americans in World War two is that 120,000 were quickly within months, removed from their homes and businesses, places that they had worked for decades to establish and to claim in the United States and placed into these incarceration camps in the interior of the United States. Two thirds of these, uh, incarcerated Japanese Americans were, in fact, U S citizens. There had been no evidence there was no attempt to actually distinguish between somebody who might have been working on behalf of Japan from people who simply had been here in the United States and making their lives. And so, uh, the incarceration camps would run until January 1945. Uh, this, uh, this web there were challenges by the Japanese American community. Korematsu was is, uh, you’re Hirabayashi is another case trying to challenge this. And this is when we have the principle of military necessity being affirmed by the Supreme Court. Um, those cases at the time here by Hayashi and Christmas you were both upheld by the Supreme Court. These cases would be revisited in the 19 eighties and, for example, Korematsu decision would be vacated because digging into what had happened in 1941 1942 revealed that in fact, the US military knew that there was no chance that the Japanese Navy would be able to in fact attack the west coast of the United States and that the rounding up of this 120,000 Japanese Americans in fact served no military purpose, that it had been motivated largely out of racial prejudice by people who wanted to remove Japanese Americans from their land so that other people could claim it. Uh, it’s, uh, you know, the Japanese American community is one of the most active when it comes to paying attention to how people are targeted by race and subject to various, uh, attacks and undermining of the civil rights protections. And so this is a, you know, a powerful era in terms of Asian American history. But it’s not just Asian American history. It’s actually our national history,
[0:23:28 Speaker 1] right? Right. Uh, that that’s such a powerful overview, given us, uh, Madeline, a side by side with what you’re describing is also an emerging perspective, particularly in the second half of the 20th century of Asians, as as you call them in one of your books as a model minority, and I certainly having grown up as the as the child of an Indian immigrant Indian, American immigrant from the Indian subcontinent, Uh, in New York City in the second half of the 20th century, I witnessed what you describe very well as the this sort of racial ization of Asians, Indians as well as, uh, Chinese and Japanese and Koreans and Vietnamese and many others. But also, uh, in the public school I went to the perception was that the Asians were always going to be the best students. How does that the stereotype emerged side by side with the racialized negative stereotype you’ve described?
[0:24:24 Speaker 0] So one of the challenges in Asian American history is that, um, the older immigration strains who experienced just the, uh, the terrible conditions under Asian exclusion, uh, is far outnumbered now by Asian immigrants who have arrived since 1965 for most of Asian American history. Actually, uh, the bulk of the Asian Americans, the majority of Asian Americans, have been foreign born 1965. The terms of the immigration law, uh, have meant that most disproportionately, I should say, um, Asians who immigrate to the United States who qualify to legally immigrate are extremely well educated college or, uh, or they arrive to attend graduate school in the United States, and thus we, in fact, have statistical data which shows that, uh, Asian Americans and, uh, Indian Americans particularly show these traits of having much higher percentages of college degrees of graduate education of being employed in white collar and professional employment also have, um, much, much higher household incomes than the national average. And so all of this has contributed to this image of model minority attainment and also a, uh, interpreted by many to indicate that the United States, in fact, does not have racial problems. Problems of racial inequality If this racial minority group can be so successful. What that perception doesn’t acknowledges that many Asians arrive and struggle and actually experience discrimination. They experience downward mobility, uh, that there are also many groups that struggle more in particular among Asian American populations. And that term, which is a census category, actually, uh, includes well over 40 different nations and language groups, people coming from a device diverse array of backgrounds and histories and trajectories. Um, there’s many different kinds of experiences, Uh, and so if you look, if you just aggregate Asian American trajectories and experience, you can see that there’s actually a bi modal pattern of attainment. The most visible groups the largest groups such as, um, Indians, Chinese, Koreans. Not as much, but somewhat, uh, Japanese. And then also, um mm. I’m missing one of the groups show higher levels of attainment. Uh, that sort of reflect the model minority achievement. This has been very visible in terms of attendance on the campuses of highly competitive four year institution to universities and colleges. But what we also see is that if you are able to disaggregate your data and pay attention to smaller groups, uh, for example, Pacific Islander groups and then also, um, populations arriving through refugee programs that there are, in fact, higher than national average levels of poverty. There’s also lower levels of educational attainment, for example, percentage is not able to get high school degrees, and so it’s actually a very, very complex situation. So these this complicates what we can say about Asian American attainment, and this has been sort of thrown into stark relief by the six women who were killed in Atlanta last week because these women illustrate clearly so, they are working in, um, massage businesses, and the presumption has been that they are sex workers. It’s actually not clear, but the fact that they’re working in massage parlors is an indication, uh, and you know, And they arrived in the United States, like many other immigrants hoping to have better lives for themselves, make better lives for their Children. But the options that they have had in the United States have in fact, been very limited, and actually not that productive of this kind of upward mobility that they had been hoping for. And so they end up working in these massage businesses, Um, and then when they are killed, it’s been it doesn’t register. It shows the cracks and the very significant fissures. In this view of the model minority, it has also been this has also their deaths have also not been taken that seriously by the Atlanta police authorities. It took a long time before the victims were actually identified and their names given and before we got the stories of who they were as human beings. Um, if you compare it to the recent Colorado tragedy, within one day, we’ve had the names. We’ve had, the back stories of the people who were killed, these women in Atlanta, did not receive the same treatment, not here in the United States. Also, I will comment not by, um any, not by the Chinese or the South Korean governments, which have very often when, um, their nationals or when, uh, people from, uh, from that claim China or South Korea as backgrounds will produce some sort of outcry or complaint on behalf of, um of their people who have migrated abroad. But this has not happened in the case of these women. So it’s been, uh, there has also been, um, a lot of concerns and protests that the Atlantic Police and also the FBI refused to see the killing of six Asian women out of eight persons now dead who were killed at Asian American owned businesses. There has been a refusal to recognize that these are racial hate crimes, and this has been very upset into the community. It goes against sort of logic and reason, but it also I think, reflects this lack of understanding of, um, longer history. But then also the very recent history of the surge in anti Asian attacks which have increased, I think, 150% over the past year,
[0:31:35 Speaker 1] So, Madeline. It’s a very important point and a perfect example of how the the history you’ve laid out for us here is so relevant in understanding our current moment. We always like to close our show with a question that takes this history and looks forward. Um, Asian Americans, all of us, uh, clearly inherit, uh, a difficult history and a history that’s filled with challenges that remain with us today that we often don’t talk about. Uh, we do have opportunities as evidence today by our ability to talk about these issues to change things going forward and Asian Americans from all different parts of this large region. More than 40 countries, as you said are, are a clear presence in the United States, if not a majority presence and if still a presence that confronts discrimination. Uh, we’re still a a powerful presence in the United States. Um, how do you see us using this history as we go forward to improve upon these conditions?
[0:32:39 Speaker 0] So four Asian Americans and I want to hear express gratitude for, um, many non Asian American leaders and scholars who have also spoken out in recognition and in support for just the impact of last week’s killings, but also the overall conditions during the past year. Um, to recognize that even though we have different paths, we face different kinds of challenges in a democracy that remains racially n egalitarian and exclusionary. Um, that we nonetheless have significant, uh, issues around which we can build coalition and also just simply to, um, support each other right in our shared humanity in the fact that we are all people and that we should render respect and kindness to each other. So I’ve been very appreciative that this has been expressed and conveyed and affirmed, you know, throughout much of my career. But during the past week in particular. And I think this is a reflection of how we need, uh, we can be moving forward. Um, if these sorts of values and recognition of the humanity of our fellow persons is or grounded in our interactions and our dynamics and our perceptions and to do this, However, um I think it is important to understand the history and to sort of acknowledge and be willing to see that, you know, all of us certainly have our own blinders or lack of awareness or understanding various kinds of ignorance. Uh and so what happened in the case of the killings in Atlanta is that the killer himself, I think, did not even realize the ways in which he was acting on these old kinds of prejudices and perceptions about Asian women. There, in fact, is a long history of Asian women being viewed as, um, prostitutes as being sexually available but as also being expendable. So, for example, the you know, the widely beloved Puccini opera Madame Butterfly has as its core climax. Um, the death of, uh, the, uh, Asian woman who has fallen in love with this American Marine officer. They have had a child, but he’s planning to go on with his real life with his American wife. And so she commits suicide so that their son can go live with his father. Um, and the music is beautiful, but it celebrates the death of this Asian woman. It’s not clear that the death is necessary, but in terms of sort of the story, it’s the storyline. It magnifies this, uh, this kind of plot, which is reiterated in many, many other movies, many other productions. We see this in the Broadway musical uh, Miss Saigon, which was very long running. It’s transplanted the storyline, and this representation of Asian women is dying for love of American men. Um uh, to the Vietnam War era, we have two scores of representations of the Vietnam War period where Asian women as prostitutes, um, Asian women dying as civilian casualties of the war are casually represented as a backdrop to the American military presence. And this may be sort of movies produced for entertainment, but it reflects the reality of the extensive U. S military presence in Asia. After World War Two, the United States had military bases in South Korea, in Japan and Taiwan. In the Philippines, uh, in Okinawa had rest and recreation places in Thailand and Hong Kong. And in all of these places, extensive red light districts developed. This was a main point of interaction between Americans, mostly men, um, and, um, the Asian societies, chiefly through, um, Asian sex workers. And this is, uh, this is a part of our nation’s history. Uh, this is one of the most significant ways in which Americans were interacting with Asians. Um, these patterns have clearly been transplanted back here to the United States and the actions of Robert Aaron Long, who bought a gun. He was. He had problems in his life, and he decided the way to solve them was to buy a gun, go to these Asian American businesses and kill all these Asian women. Um, to me, the connections are very clear. It’s related to his just, um, the kinds of racism and misogyny that are sort of lodged in his subconscious. Uh, he’s not consciously aware of them. The Atlanta police accepted his interpretation of his motives, but this again shows this levels of just not paying attention and not understanding this history and not being able to recognize the kinds of hostilities that are latent in U. S. Society.
[0:38:31 Speaker 1] Right? And and certainly recognizing those hostilities allows us to at least, uh, confront them and try to deal with them, uh, and and and hopefully move beyond them. Zachary, as as a young person of Asian American descent yourself, um, and someone who’s who has an incredibly diverse friend group filled with many peace people from Asian American backgrounds. Um, how do you think about these issues? Do you feel this history is elucidated sufficiently. And do you see positive steps forward? How do you think about these issues?
[0:39:08 Speaker 2] I don’t think that, um this history has talked about nearly enough myself, even as an as an Asian American. Haven’t really interacted with this history. Uh, much at all. I think that we tell Asian American history, uh, in very in very small spurts. And almost always, we sort of end with as if they are as if Asian Americans are this model minority. Uh, and as if we have attained, uh, full assimilation
[0:39:38 Speaker 0] or full
[0:39:39 Speaker 2] acceptance in American society. So I think we need to tell this history, but we also need to we need to We need to spread awareness about the stereotypes and, uh, and tropes that play into this hate today and have done so in our past.
[0:39:56 Speaker 1] I think that that’s very sensible and important. Madeleine, I want to close with one final question for you. Um, many Asian Americans, uh, particularly in the Indian American community that I know a bit about, uh, they and I think this is true for other Asian American communities. They often don’t like to talk about these issues, uh, in part because it’s It’s obviously not pleasant, but also because they like to see themselves as successful and transcending these issues. And and this became clear, uh, in a controversy recently at many universities and even certain high schools like my high school in New York City. So I was in high school where Asian Americans were upset about certain elements of affirmative action because they didn’t want they they thought it worked against their access to institutions. And I think in many cases they like to see themselves as not needing, uh, any kind of any kind of help. How do how do you address that within the Asian American community? How do you talk about this history within the community?
[0:41:02 Speaker 0] So I well, of course I’m an educator and I’m a teacher. Um, and I look at access to higher education as an investment in um, the people of, um, United States, you know, And so I mean, but here I’m talking about higher education, but also really the K through 12 education that actually the United States, um, needs to be doing a much better job in terms of sort of promoting and cultivating the people who live here this is in the interests of the country. It’s not just in the interest of the people themselves that this is, You know, the greatest resource of the United States is it’s people all its people. Higher education in particular. Um is a way of ensuring of helping people who are motivated who have, uh, talents and goals to actually be able to accomplish even more. And so from my perspective, when we, um, considering what students to admit. And unfortunately, we don’t have enough higher education facilities to actually provide this level of training and education for all those who are seeking it. But when we admit students, we need to acknowledge that won the K through 12 level. It’s an uneven playing field that, in fact, there are many applicants who have talents and capacities that have not received the same kinds of, um, preparation in the application process. Um, it is another reality of our landscape that these kinds of cultural capital translate from generation to generation. That is, if you come from an already affluent and already well educated background, you will come to that process with advantages. Uh, and so to me, higher education should also serve as a way of trying to level that playing field of providing opportunity to, um, students to persons to individuals who, um, have the talent and the potential, uh, and to allow them then to realize that potential. Now, I say this, um and I’m Jeremy will know this it’s can be challenging. In fact, trying to, uh, figure out what the trajectory of any given applicant is. Um, I think race is a factor, but I don’t think race is the sole determining factor that we should, in fact, look at a broader array of, um, factors and criteria. Holistic admissions process is, and University of Texas has this component in its admissions, um, system. Uh, what this means is that, um, regardless of race, um, applicants who are coming from sort of already, um, affluent family backgrounds, um, have a lot of privileges and that this, uh, ideally, those households those families, those applicants will recognize this, um, and that. But by the same token, there are many students who will be applying from who will be, uh, for example, first generation college students. And again, this is a attribute that cuts across racial groups. Um And so, uh, the affirmative action debates and struggles have been racialized um uh, to, you know, by many different persons. But I think it can actually be viewed with much greater complexity. Um, in ways that, um you know, uh, pay attention to what we can accomplish through higher education and trying to provide that kind of access. There was a study by Bok and Bowen, The shape of the river. Um, these are two former presidents of Ivy League colleges. It was a longitudinal study of tracking. Um, affirmative, Uh, so students who had admitted into elite institutions through affirmative action and attract them in terms of their actual performance entertainment but then also very importantly, tracked what the these students did with their education sort of their access to this, uh, training, um, in their careers and their professional lives. And one, the study found that, uh, their attainment, their their performance, actually was commensurate with everybody else. That the fact that they were admitted to affirmative action, uh, in fact was not, uh, sort of a trying to advance the interests of someone who was not capable of the work. The other finding was that, um students who were admitted by affirmative action tend to have a stronger sense of obligation and responsibility to try to go back and help their communities to try to use the benefits of their education, help other people. And so from that perspective, there in fact, is a much larger payout in terms of admitting people who are, for example, first generation college students from underrepresented communities and backgrounds, um, and giving them the benefits of higher education that they helped to lift, um, the level of many, many more people beyond their own self interests. Because they recognize, um, that it’s important to do so that if they have benefitted from something like affirmative action, it’s important to share those benefits beyond themselves.
[0:47:13 Speaker 1] Madeleine, you’ve You’ve given us such a thoughtful, well informed and detailed overview of so many of these issues, and I think what’s so powerful in your scholarship and what you’ve shared with us today is the recognition that, um, knowledge of this history, uh, knowledge of the racial is ations and the ways in which violence and power have been used against certain groups. It can help us to understand the pathologies of our moment. uh, and also to see through a discussion of affirmative action, for example, uh, mechanisms for at least acknowledging that history and trying to build a positive responses to it, providing access to higher education for parts of the Asian American community that have been disprove alleged, while also recognizing that other parts of the community, um, might not, in the short run, benefit from affirmative action, but as you say, Well, in the long run, benefit from it. And that could be a metaphor for I think, how we examine so many issues in our society and how we think about policing how we think about the allocation of resources, how we think about government programs and and the communities we live in. Uh, your your passion and your knowledge are so insightful. And I really want to thank you for sharing your time with us today, Madeline.
[0:48:40 Speaker 0] Well, thank you, Jeremy. And thank you for having this conversation.
[0:48:44 Speaker 1] Uh, and I want to thank Zachary is always for his inspiring poem and our largest Thanks. Go to our listeners. Thank you for joining
[0:48:53 Speaker 2] us for this week of this is democracy. Mm. This podcast is produced by the liberal Arts I T s Development Studio and the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. The music in this episode was written and recorded by Harris Komotini. Stay tuned for a new episode Every week you
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