The Retreat from Race: Asian-American Admissions and Racial Politics

Dana Y. Takagi, Author Rutgers University Press $40 (246p) ISBN 978-0-8135-1913-5
This probing book analyzes a subtle but important change in racial politics: how at elite universities in the 1980s, class replaced race as a major criterion in admissions policy. Takagi, who teaches sociology at the University of California-Santa Cruz, frames her argument in terms of Asian admissions. During the '80s, the focus of debate about Asian students shifted from charges of discrimination to the role of Asians as an underrepresented minority group in affirmative action-based admissions process. Asians, Takagi feels, have been ``peripheral to racial politics in higher education.'' She begins by closely examining the growing number of discrimination charges by Asians on six campuses from 1983 to 1986, then shows how the debate after 1987 moved to questions of diversity and meritocracy. Neoconservatives, she writes, seized the controversy to portray a simplistic zero-sum game in which Asian-Americans were victimized by less qualified blacks and Hispanics, leading liberal university officials to trade racial preferences for class preferences. Takagi calls for deeper discussion about the admissions process and for more textured language to address racial issues. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 03/01/1993
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-0-8135-1914-2
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