For the purposes of this article, Alex Chen, an 18-year-old senior at the Bronx High School of Science in New York City, is the “typical Asian student.” Alex has a 98 percent average at one of the city’s elite public high schools, scored a 1,580 on the SAT and, as far as he knows, has earned the respect of his teachers. Alex is also the vice president of technology for the Bronx Science chapter of the National Honor Society, the director of graphics and marketing for TeenHacks L.I. (“the first hackathon for teens in Long Island”), a member of the cross-country team, the vice president of the school’s painting club, the president of the Get Your Life Together club (visitors from various businesses come talk to students) and the senator for his homeroom. In his free time, he plays Pokémon and goes on long jogs through Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. His parents, Qiao and Su, emigrated from China in the ’90s and worked their way through commuter colleges in Queens. They live along with Alex’s little brother in a modest apartment in outer Queens….
The piece is very long. It mostly focuses on East Asians for various reasons. But one thing that I think confronts South Asians is that many of us are quite dark-skinned, and though not African American, are more liminal physically to that identity than East Asians. To be entirely frank one perverse, but predictable, aspect of American-style affirmative action is that a dark-skinned South Asian doesn’t obtain the same status and benefits as a white person of Latin American origin.