News India Times

ou silent dumb sheep." "Cow- ards." "You're like black slave- holders." "Uncle Chan." Those are a few of the names that I and other Harvard alumni col- leagues who defended race- conscious admissions have been called over the past two years. The sheep line made us laugh. The slaveholder analogy made us out- raged. And then there was the time I was yelled at by two Asian Americanmen - one in each ear - as I and others walked off the stage at a black-tie gala; one of the men toldme later, "I'm so disappointed in you. Our chil- dren are going to be worse off because of you." That stung. But that's what you get for stepping into the racially charged lawsuit against Harvard University admissions accusing the college of discriminating against Asian American appli- cants as it sought to foster racial diversity on campus.The two alumni groups I help lead - one Asian American, one multiracial - stood in support of diversity and race-conscious admissions, as domost Asian Americans. Alongside 23 other student and alumni groups, we signed amicus briefs and wrote affidavits, and our members took the witness stand.We were relieved that U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs' decision this week powerfully affirmed the need for the consid- eration of race in admissions andmethodi- cally dismissed the claimof discrimination. But just as the case may drag out in appeal, the intense emotions provoked by the plain- tiff's suit, which exploited nearly every stereotype out there about Asian Americans, will not subside soon. I believe the case turned into a lightning rod for the anger that many Asian Americans have felt at the real and sometimes violent racismwe face. In a country that mostly sees race as black and white, or black and brown and white, the indignities we suffer as immi- grants and descendants of immigrants who are viewed as perpetual foreigners (Yes, I speak good English, I was born in Cincinnati, dammit!) are often invisible. So here was a chance to give the finger to the Man, while still hoping our kid gets into his supposedly law-breaking college. But here's what I came to see: The Man is still so supreme that even if it felt like this lawsuit might take himdown, it was actually advancing his ultimate agenda - tomaintain power and keep us down - by turning us against each other. In the Harvard case, there's a specific man, conservative activist Edward Blum. Blum, who said he "needed Asian plaintiffs" for the suit he was spearheading against Harvard, is the same man who catalyzed the Shelby County case that resulted in a Supreme Court decision that weakened the landmarkVoting Rights Act. Blum and his organization also filed an amicus brief supporting adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census, which would cause the undercounting and thus the under-resourcing of communities of color, including impoverished Asian Ameri- cans. So why would we align ourselves with someone who is working against our greater interest? I'm also puzzled when Asian Ameri- cans don't see that race-conscious programs are still needed for somany of us, especially once we get beyond the college walls. The #HollywoodSoWhite and#StarringJohnCho campaigns have highlighted how few Asian Americans are represented in popular cul- ture. Andmore broadly, though we enter the workforce in high numbers, we are the least likely to get promoted tomanagement posi- tions. For years, I facilitated a leadership pro- gram for the Asian American Journalists Association - the type of race-shaped pro- gram that bumpedmore of us toward the head of the newsroombut also the kind of program that diversity opponents would like to banish. Saying the country's policies should be race-blind actually means cement- ing the status quo, which favors one race and one gender. What was most gratifying about Bur- roughs' decision was the number of times she cited testimony from alumni and student witnesses, who spoke vividly about how inex- tricable race was from their lives and their identities and thus their college applications. They were black and Latinx and Asian Ameri- can, but their moving stories shared a theme: what it feels like to be marginalized and their own sense of how race-consciousness was an important part of the solution, which Bur- roughs stirringly echoed. The most profound lesson for me of these past two years is that alumni and students could come together across generations, across race and ethnicity, religion, gender and across all the other boundaries that can divide us to fight for what's right. Today's stu- dents are better off with the splendid diver- sity around them. And if they can stay united, maybe they will finally upend the status quo and bring us closer to a society that truly of- fers equal opportunity for all. That's the real American dreammy parents handedme when they left everything they knew on the far side of the Pacific Oceanmore than 60 years ago. It wasn't about getting into Har- vard, and it shouldn't be. -S PECIAL T O T HE W ASHINGTON P OST News India Times October 11, 2019 2 Opinion “Y Published weekly, Founded in 1975. The views expressed on the opinion pages are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of News IndiaTimes. Copyright © 2019, News IndiaTimes News IndiaTimes (ISSN 0199-901X) is published every Friday by ParikhWorldwide Media LLC., 35 Journal Square, Suite 204, Jersey City, NJ 07306 Periodicals postage paid at Newark, N.J. , and at additional mailing offices. 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Road, 29 Adarsh Society Ahmedabad 380009 Tel. 26446947 F ax. 26565596 President of the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance and co-founder and a board member of the Coalition for a Diverse Harvard. U.S.Meddling InUkraine IsADisaster By Leonid Bershidsky T hanks to a newly released trove of U.S. official correspondence, the world now knows just how clumsily the Trump administration tried to get Ukrainian Presi- dent Volodymyr Zelenskiy to serve its politi- cal ends. Perhaps the embarrassment will finally teach the Americans a lesson: This kind of meddling in foreign governments' af- fairs will do you no good. The messages, made public as part of a Congressional impeachment inquiry, illus- trate the lengths to which top U.S. diplomats went in pursuing their goal: extracting a pub- lic pledge fromZelenskiy to investigate whether Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election with the aimof helping Hillary Clinton, and whether former vice president Joe Biden had improperly hindered a Ukrainianmoney-laundering probe of a company where his son, Hunter, held a lu- crative board seat. The two themes, popular among U.S. conservative conspiracy theorists, are based on zero hard evidence. Biden senior has boasted that he forced former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire then Pros- ecutor General Viktor Shokin by threatening to withhold a $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee. But there's nothing to support claims - made by Shokin and President DonaldTrump - that Biden did so to stop an investigation into the company, known as Burisma. Nonetheless, according to the released correspondence, U.S. diplomats worked hard to get Zelenskiy to lend credence to the theories. Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambas- sador to the European Union, wrote to Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for Ukraine, that the president wanted Zelenskiy tomake the statement, which Sondland called "the deliverable."Volker passed the request to Ze- lenskiy aide AndriyYermak, and asked other Americans for their input so he could "advise Z correctly as to what he should be saying." His proposed words for the Ukrainian presi- dent: "We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, including those involving Burisma and the 2016 elections, which in turn will prevent the recurrence of this problem in the future." Zelenskiy never made the statement - and he couldn't have, for legal and political rea- sons. The Ukrainian president doesn't have the authority to initiate investigations, which are the responsibility of the independent prosecutor. Moreover, he promised voters that he would cast aside his predecessors' corrupt practices and stop interfering with the workings of the justice system. He reiter- ated this stance at a September press confer- ence withTrump in NewYork. (Ukraine's current prosecutor general said this week that he plans to review the Burisma case, among others.) Why, then, didYermak - according to the correspondence -express a willingness to comply with the unusual U.S. demand, in re- turn for a firmdate for the Ukrainian presi- dent's visit to theWhite House? This contrasts withYermak's assertion, in an in- terviewwith a Ukrainian news site, that he had resisted, telling Trump lawyer Rudy Guil- iani that all investigations in Zelenskiy's ad- ministration would be transparent and would not be "opened or closed with a phone call" fromZelenskiy's staff. Most likely, Yermak was stringing the Trump team along. A straight "no" would have undermined Zelenskiy's plan to enlist U.S. support in peace talks with Russia, me- diated by Germany and France. Once the Americans set up Zelenskiy's meeting with Trump, the Ukrainian leader couldmake some non-committal statement on election interference and Burisma without actually promising an investigation. By then, it would be hard to cancel theWhite House visit. -B LOOMBERG