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There are, however, several problems with depicting Asian Americans as victims of affirmative action. First, it is necessary to distinguish between affirmative action and negative action. Affirmative action refers to admissions policies that use the race of an underrepresented racial group as a “plus factor” in admissions. According to the law professor Vinay Harpalani, negative action “refers to policies or practices which disadvantage Asian Americans” in comparison to whites. If schools like Harvard covertly impose a higher standard for Asian Americans than for whites, the problem is negative action, not affirmative action. And if Harvard’s admissions decisions are infected by implicit bias against Asian American applicants, then that is just straightforward racial discrimination. It has nothing to do with the “plus factor” given to underrepresented racial groups.

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Washington Monthly

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