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  • Writer's pictureYoung American Policy Advocates

YAPA Let's Talk Community Forum - Race-based Affirmative Action: Recap!

To view more information on this event and YALT's other upcoming projects, visit our website at

“I live in an area that is very much majority Asian American, and I think it really helps to hear from other minorities that have different ideas from me,” said Erin Wang, junior at Cupertino High School, at YAPA’s first Let’s Talk community forum on March 20. “In our Asian American communities, it’s easy for us to overlook the views of Black and Latinx communities that oppose affirmative action, so it was eye-opening to hear from that side.”

The first YALT community forum focusing on the topic of race-based affirmative action took place on Sunday, March 20 from 3-4:30 PM PST.

The event featured speaker Will Reusch, a 13 year social science educator and founder of Cylinder Radio podcast, who kicked off the forum with an overview on affirmative action as a policy and its history as well as covering some of the major arguments in support of and in opposition of race-based affirmative action.

14 high school students with a wide variety of locations, backgrounds, and identities joined the discussion to share the knowledge and experiences that inform their stances on the topic. Among these students, some were in vehement opposition while some were extremely supportive of AA. The discussion provided an opportunity to civilly share their views and find middle ground.

“It was interesting to see the different perspectives,” said White Station High School sophomore Joshua Blackwell. “Racism is still prevalent in America and definitely will be for generations to come. We need to do as much as we can do and I understand better now why some people do think race affirmative action is the best course to solve this issue - I still don’t agree with it, but the arguments are more clear to me.”

Furthermore, student participants who had held relatively uninformed positions before felt like they were able to take away a good general understanding of the issue.

“I didn’t talk that much because I didn’t have that much background data and just really wanted to listen in on [others’] discussion,” Alsion Montessori sophomore Abel Kora said. “I’m still leaning towards economic-based affirmative action over race-based because I think that works best in terms of equality of outcome, but it was insightful to hear different explanations.”

YALT project leader and YAPA Vice President Sunjay Muralitharan, a junior at Washington High School, was pleasantly surprised to find that the discussion ran more smoothly than anticipated.

“The conversations flowed naturally and both sides seemed to gain a greater amount of knowledge about why the other side believed what they did,” Muralitharan said. “We had an ideologically diverse crowd, which made the conversations more engaging.”

YALT plans to have its next forum in May or June on a topic that could similarly benefit from civil and good-faith open discussion.

Written by Esther Luan

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