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As an Asian-American, I, like any person of any other race, have certain stereot pes associated with me.

Mainly, I am expected to be incredibly smart and academ ics oriented. Like any other racial stereotype, this has its roots in truth. Like any other racial stereotype, this can be personally offensive. Unlike many other stereotypes, this one has rooted itself into reality. Black people don't have fried chicken taxes imposed on them. Mexican babies don 't have taller cribs. But Asians...try to get an Asian into college, and somebo dy's going to have a hard time. I am, of course, talking about affirmative action. And while I know that there are many arguments to make as to why affirmative action is necessary (even thoug h it's a necessary evil against certain people), I would like to offer a very... unconventional implication that it can have on Asians. Affirmative action ruins friendships. Because Asian-Americans, as a result of having higher expectations and tougher s tandards, must strive higher to stand out (which, incidentally, leads to more af firmative action--it's a vicious cycle). Specifically, they must strive higher to stand out amongst their peers in a competitive battle-for-credentials. But you see, we Asians, we're not brave, valiant fighters--if that were the case , there could possibly be some friendly competition. But no, we're sneaky, cunn ing, covert operators. Jack can't let his friends know that he's secretly getti ng math tutoring outside of school every Thursday night, or they might get ideas , and catch up to him! No, no, Jack and his parents must keep this quiet. Espe cially from his friend Louis, who has grown up with Jack for the past so many ye ars and thus is pretty much academically equivalent to him. It is Jack's hidden trump card--Louis won't have seen this coming, he thinks that he's still on par with Jack! Every minute of work counts--with the number of other Asian kids fr om Jack's school applying to UVA, Jack and his parents know that he has to do ev erything he can to stand out. But at what cost? Jack and Louis hang out like best buddies. They game together, parter up in cla ss together, go to church together. But there's always that malevolent, competi tive edge that Jack feels when he's around Louis...a suspicious, envious, tentat ive fear that Louis is doing something extra in his free time that Jack can't ma tch up to. Suddenly, every single minute that Jack doesn't know what Louis is d oing becomes a potential danger, a suspicious worry that Louis is spending his t ime away from Jack working to beat him. Even friendship, social interaction, and personality are often feigned now so Ja ck doesn't seem as dedicated as he really is, giving Louis a false sense of acad emic security. Jack's such a laidback, friendly, outgoing guy, he can't possibly lead a rigorous academic double-life! If all goes to plan, Louis will have no idea that Jack is working so hard to come out on top. Jack and Louis act like friends, sure. But Jack can't help anymore but to see L ouis as a rival, an enemy too. What could have been a lifelong cameraderie is no w tainted with academic competition, and who knows how permanant the damage may be?

That, my friends, is how affirmative action can ruin friendships. Personally, by realizing this is happening, I have learned to look past the ridi culous competition for credentials and be more transparent with my academics--do ing otherwise makes me feel too hostile towards my friends. Sadly, my parents d o not feel the same way, and still require me to keep some of my activities secr et. I can only hope that my friends also realize what is happening, and view me not as a competitor, but a companion.

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