Of all the bedtime stories I’ve been told, the fable of the tortoise and the hare has always been my favorite. This story taught me that, in the face of any endeavor, hard work would reap success.
Only recently has the lesson of the tale failed me. While all students realize that curing cancer while inventing a time machine with their eyes closed might warrant an acceptance letter from Stanford, only a chunk of these students must face another hurdle. According to a 2009 Princeton study that accounted for “gender, status as an athlete or alumni child, high school grades and test scores, type of high school attended and so forth,” Asian-Americans had to score “140 points higher on their SATs than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics and 450 points higher than blacks to have the same chance of admission to leading universities,” (Lam). Additionally, the fact that “the percentage of Asian-Americans enrolled at Harvard fell by more than 50 percent over the last two decades” (Unz) resonates with the 2014 lawsuit that accused Harvard of an Asian quota. The abundant evidence of bias against Asian-Americans proves that the presence of discrimination is indisputable.
The Brown v. Board of Education case of 1954 “served as a catalyst for the modern civil rights movement, inspiring education reform everywhere and...challenging segregation,” (civilrights). This case marked the beginning of an increasingly diverse American academic system. While the original demand for diversity was to address the pervasive discrimination in America, the implementation of diversity resulted in an America where, 60 years later, discrimination remains; the victim has merely changed.
The degradation and ineligibility that rejected students feel are extended even further for Asian-Americans. No matter how overqualified Asian-Americans may be, their capabilities are lessened, their accomplishments are devalued, and their spirits are broken when they are deemed unqualified for their desired institution of higher learning because of the color of their face. So I, among a slew of 17 million Asian-Americans living in a broken system, am forced into a reality where, despite the effort the tortoise invests and despite the naps the hare takes, the tortoise’s finish line continues to be pushed back farther. And whenever I do not reach my goals, whenever my hard work has no bearing on my results, I am left to believe that my effort will never triumph my handicap—and that is a sad, unjust truth to believe.
Perhaps that is the greatest problem of all: in a system that cultivates diversity through the means of discrimination, I am forced to doubt my own abilities. And what kind of future would America have if the tortoise never believed he could win in the first place?