Eli Steele : A ragged middle-aged man clutching a strange variety of documents to his chest stopped and peered at the gathering of parents and community leaders as I was putting up my camera to capture a rally on the steps of Tweed Courthouse in downtown Manhattan.
Eli Steele: NYC’s Critical Race Theory machine’s despicable scapegoating of Asians
They were protesting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s continued attacks on the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), which is the only way to get into one of New York’s nine specialized high schools.
“Stop picking on Asian kids!” they wrote on their hand-drawn signs. “Fix failing schools!” and “Keep the test!” are two demands that have been made.
I turned to lipread the unkempt man as he began to rant angrily: “You Asians are filling up all of the seats in these schools!
Only eight black students were accepted into Stuyvesant High School, only eight! Give us black people a chance, that’s all we’re asking, man!” I aimed my camera at him, but he noticed me and bolted.
Later, when I reflected on the situation, I remembered that chilly November morning in 2013 when I waited outside a Brooklyn voting center for the de Blasio family to arrive and cast the ballots that helped elect New York City’s father mayor.
“How Jack Became Black,” my documentary on multiracial Americans, was being shot at the time. As individuals surrounding me admired de Blasio’s mixed family, there was a buzz in the air.
They saw such a man as a sign of better racial relations, and they admired his anti-racial profiling campaign attitude.
They could not have imagined that de Blasio would depart office as one of America’s most flagrant racial profilers eight years later.
Why had de Blasio and his school administration singled out Asian youngsters for racial profiling?
Was it because these young people took the American dream seriously and worked till the wee hours of the morning?
Was it because their parents — many of whom were poor immigrants — scrimped and saved to ensure that their children were ready to take the test?
Or was it simply because they were different, Asian, and a marginalized group?
There is no doubt that de Blasio would not have labeled the SHSAT as “structurally racist” if 54 percent of the 4,262 eighth graders who passed it were black rather than Asian.
In fact, he would almost certainly have commended the test.
After the students received their exam results, Wai Wah, the charter president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Greater New York, and her friend, George Lee, sent me a tweet posted by de Blasio’s education chancellor, Meisha Porter.
Porter called the admission of so few blacks to specialized high schools “unacceptable” and said it was “beyond time for our pupils to be fairly represented.” The inference was that the exam was racist.
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Porter forgot to congratulate the pupils who had prepared for years and passed the exam, according to Wai Wah and George.
They also pointed out that Porter had failed to honor the other 19,266 students who had made similar sacrifices but failed the test. Porter was solely concerned with “our students,” a term that comprised exclusively Blacks and Hispanics.
Porter was only following in the footsteps of de Blasio, who advocated for “wealth redistribution.”
She, like previous educators, neglected the reality of prioritizing fairness over merit, a fact that has resulted in the elimination of gifted and talented programs in many black and Hispanic communities over the last several decades.
When blacks and Hispanics were given access to these programs, they took the same test that de Blasio called discriminatory and controlled Brooklyn Tech from the 1970s through the 1990s.
From de Blasio and Potter to the former education chancellor, Richard Carranza, none of these bureaucrats asked the obvious question: why had “too many” Asians passed the test?
By posing such a question, de Blasio would have been compelled to consider what factors and behaviors contributed to some pupils’ performance.
He would have swiftly realized that their achievements were anything but “Asian” – after all, much more Asians failed the test than passed it.
He would have also realized that it was their unwavering conviction in the American Dream that motivated them to pursue their passions, a road that countless successful Americans have taken.
Also, considering the humanity of these Asians would have forced de Blasio to consider the core reasons of the nation’s largest public school system’s appalling disparities.
Instead, he found it easier to racially profile Asians and blame them for these disparities.
De Blasio’s and the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) establishment’s racial biases received little news coverage.
These people elevated equality to the status of a top social moral virtue, elevating race representation over talent.
They perceive race in everything now that they’ve descended to the inhuman level of race, and that’s where their bias rests, which extends beyond Asians to blacks and Hispanics.
Rather than equipping these groups with the means of equality through school improvement, de Blasio imagined he could racially engineer blacks and Hispanics to parity at the expense of Asians.
That was how little he believed these people could control their own destiny.
At the same time, de Blasio gained a lot of political capital by portraying himself as a defender of the oppressed while conveniently ignoring the lengthy history of brutal oppression faced by many Asian communities in the United States.
It was because of this bias that de Blasio was able to racially profile an entire class of people based on their appearance.
As I drove to the distant reaches of Brooklyn to see the Ni family in 2021, I reflected on how this ugliness was unfolding.
Sam, an immigrant store owner, invited me into a home that combined the American Dream with cultural memories of Sam’s and his wife’s native China.
I asked their children, Zoe, a seventh-grader studying for the SHSAT, and Leo, a ninth-grader at Hunter College High School, what they thought of all the anti-Asian bigotry — a Brooklyn instructor had recently referred to people like them as “yellow folks” — what they thought of it all.
After a series of hesitant responses, Zoe revealed the fact that many instructors overlook: “People aren’t just a collection of numbers.
These statistics contain real persons. There are actual folks who are squandering their chances.
And knowing that the explanation is purely racial is troubling to me.”
Sam, a thoughtful and observant man, subsequently confessed that he had heard of Martin Luther King’s dream in China, which was one of the reasons he came to America.
He remarked, “Through a translation,” “During China’s cultural revolution, students were divided into two groups: those who were “of the red five category” and those who were “of the black five category.”
Why? It has little to do with the student himself, but rather with his family background and other environmental influences.
Education in New York, and perhaps the entire United States, when it comes to race issues, resembles China’s Cultural Revolution in that it focuses on the student, not on who learns well and who doesn’t, but on a jumble of race and family history identities to determine what kind of person you are.
I believe we are moving backward in time.
Sam also offered some advice for politicians like de Blasio: “They want to utilize their viewpoints to reshape and control the world in their own image, rather than allowing us, free individuals, to compete freely in an equal-opportunity system and create a gloriously multicolored world.
So what they’re doing is, in a sense, very similar to communism, totalitarian communism, in that they’re using their ideals to rule the globe.”
Sam told me that he had recently considered emigrating to a different nation.
He escaped China’s debilitating socioeconomic disparities only to find his children on the wrong side of America’s racial divides.
But then he seemed to let that concept go — at least in America, he has the unrestricted freedom to fight for his children’s rights, which he has done.
As I went back into Manhattan, I remembered George Lee’s comments about representation.
Critical race theory, he claimed, was a “political philosophy of race war, racial hatred,” and he blamed it for the continued racial tensions.
He questioned aloud how one Asian could represent another Asian, or how a black could represent another black.
He emphasized that no one looks or thinks like him, so how could he possibly represent another Asian?
“Does an Asian who gets into Harvard take classes on behalf of an Asian who didn’t get in?” he continued.
He gave me a smile in his eye, the kind one gets while unveiling a racial absurdity: “There is no such thing as racial representation.
This entire representational language effectively says that Asians, whites, and blacks are all interchangeable.”
That is precisely what de Blasio campaigned against when he ran for Mayor of New York.
He understood that one of the worst consequences of racial profiling was that people were no longer recognized as individuals but as members of a race.
He’d heard black people argue that they shouldn’t be suspected just because they were black and lived in high-crime areas.
They objected, claiming that it was unjust and that they were more than just a race.
De Blasio, on the other hand, broke this lesson in compassion by racially profiling Asians during his term in office, leaving many black and Hispanic pupils in worse shape than when he took office.
The unkempt man at the event who yelled at the Asians was a terrible symbol of de Blasio’s educational legacy in many respects.
That man had been brainwashed into believing that Asians held all of the power, which is why he insisted that they give blacks a chance.
But the Asians are powerless to save him. A race can’t give you anything. Only the individual has the ability to give or take.
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