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Dear Jessica,

I have been following the Harvard Asian discrimination case, and I find it troubling that many established Asians seem apologetic for their success; they admit that they had "privileges" and seem to project the "privileges" onto the whole group. 

But that is wrong. I have many first-generation Chinese friends who are taking on multiple jobs (such as driving Lyft in the midnight shift) just so their children can receive a good education. Why should these children be held to a higher standard simply because they are Chinese? I have not heard any good explanation for that. Have you? Yes, this Edward Blum fellow may have ulterior motives, but it does not change the core of the case. Can any of these apologetic Asians tell my Lyft driver friend why his children should be held to a higher academic standard than wealthy white kids? 

Credit: Julia Schorr

Personally, I am extremely grateful to America's education system as I have had full scholarship to all my education, including two graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And I love the diversity of the campuses as much as anyone. My families also did extremely well with multiple degrees from MIT, the California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and yes that school in the lawsuit. 

As well, I absolutely believe that you can be successful anywhere; there are many great colleges in America. But this problem is very, very real. 

In recent years, I have been working with a lot of Chinese students. Everyone knows that they have to score much higher (and do much more) to get into a top American college. It is tough for Chinese Americans (and virtually impossible for native Chinese people, but I won't go there). So I completely understand the anger of the Chinese-American community. I applaud Jeff Sessions in saying that "no American should be denied admission to school because of their race." It has come to light that Harvard justifies limiting Asian enrollment by scoring the Chinese-American applicants low on personality rating. This is a disgrace and just plainly wrong. Shame on Harvard. I hope this case makes it to the Supreme Court.  

It is easy for those of us who have made it to dismiss the claim. It takes courage and compassion from people who have made it to stand up against a system that has helped them succeed, but we must. From your writing, I can sense that your heart is in the right place and that you genuinely want to build a better society. I too believe a great society should give opportunity to the disadvantaged, of all races and skin color, even if the disadvantaged should be Chinese. Let's stand up for what is right.


NING ZHOU graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000 and received an MBA and a master's in engineering. His email address is