Aiming for Perfection: Asian American Parents and Affirmative Action

Approaching my final semester at Brown, I wanted to write a reflective piece on the effects of affirmative action on the perceptions of Asian American parents in regards to themselves and their children. During my senior year of high school, I applied to Brown University and was granted admission the coming December. When I logged on to my computer and checked my admissions decision, I was at a loss for words and beyond ecstatic to begin the next chapter of my life in Providence. Standing beside me while I viewed my admission letter was my mother, who held an equally pleasant smile. Providing me with the opportunities to strive for excellence, it was my mother who drove me to violin lessons, SAT tutoring sessions, and even to Yale for an Economics summer program. All of my hard work had paid off, but all of her efforts had also come into fruition. Through her investment in my academic life, my extracurricular achievements, and my willingness to succeed, our commitments became intertwined. My success became her success, and my failures became her failures. This relationship, the one shared between my mother and myself, would become deeply relatable for a number of other Asian American peers, whose parents, in making personal sacrifices and steep investments, would see their accomplishments and failures through their own children. Through an assortment of political, social, and educational forces, affirmative action challenges this relationship on a variety of different levels that I will closely examine in this paper.

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