The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show

The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show

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Kenny Xu on Asian-American Pushback Against the Woke Left

CLAY: We are joined now by Kenny Xu. He’s the president of the advocacy group Color Us United, author ofAn Inconvenient Minority: The Attack on Asian American Excellence and the Fight for Meritocracy. Kenny, I appreciate you joining us. A lot to dive in here, particularly as we’ve been dealing with a new Supreme Court justice being considered by the judiciary committee this week.

But I want to start with what came out of San Francisco recently, which was the recall by over 70% margins of three different board members, school board members in San Francisco that was to a large extent, it appears, driven by Asian parents who were frustrated over the way that the woke ideology was driving the San Francisco school board.

Is that, in your mind, Kenny, emblematic of what many Asian parents all over the country believe? Certainly, we heard a lot, I think about in Northern Virginia. I think with Thomas Jefferson High School, with all of the elite high schools in New York City; also, Boston recently. Their major battlegrounds over Asian students getting, quote-unquote, “too many” of the spots inside of the schools, and it seems like it’s really firing up Asian parents. Are you seeing that, in your experience?

XU: That is how I see it. I’ve interviewed several of the people who actually led that recall and won. This is the highest turnout of Chinese Americans ever in San Francisco for a midyear recall, board recall election. Why is that? What do they mean, that they’ve gone woke? Well, what happens is, there’s this prestigious high school in San Francisco, called Balboa High School that admits on the basis of merit, grades, test scores, that kind of thing.

They even have some diversity to extend. They decided to change that to a lottery admission system, curving the percentage of Asians by over half. So for many of these Chinese parents, that represents their best opportunity to work hard, and get the merits, to get the reward for their hard work. That’s meritocracy. That’s what we believe in as a country, or what we should believe in. But this ideology that’s now obsessed with diversity, obsessed with “equity” in everything within is now actually limiting opportunity for those who work hard and achieve.

BUCK: Hey, Kenny, it’s Buck.

XU: Yeah?

BUCK: I just want to know… You know, we have a similar situation that plays out almost every year, it feels like, here in New York City, which is my hometown. There’s a number of schools. Stuyvesant is the best-known — Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech — where it’s just pure test score. You take a test. These are public schools, and the highest test scores go to one school, and then the next tranche, and then the next tranche.

I almost went to one of those public schools, almost went to Stuyvesant, and it always comes up in these social justice fights as, “It’s not fair,” and they say it’s not fair because about 70% plus of Stuyvesant High School in New York is Asian-American.

XU: Right.

BUCK: And I want to know, how does the left try to justify the, “It’s not fair that Asian-Americans, including a lot of first-generation immigrants in places like New York City achieve…?” I’m sure there’s similar things playing out in San Francisco. “But there are too many of them achieving.” So we have to discriminate against them, to make things more fair. Like, how does the left square that circle?

XU: The left is playing a very conniving game with Asian-Americans, which, by the way, I wrote an entire chapter on New York City schools for my book, An Inconvenient Minority. But they’re playing a very conniving game, because they’re suddenly saying that all of the hard work that the Asians put into studying for the test… By the way, Asians study twice as many hours as the average American. They believe education is an opportunity.

They work really hard. They’re suddenly saying, that is a form of privilege. They’re suddenly saying that the reason why they are overrepresented is because they’re a privileged group, and they’re not a privileged group. The reason why they are able to achieve is because they study their butts off for these tests, and they work really hard in school, and that should be celebrated in this country. But instead, the left denigrates it because it’s overrepresented.

CLAY: Amen, Kenny, and I think it’s worth mentioning here, merit-based testing — the SAT and the ATT, the rise of the college admissions tests — was because Ivy League schools were discriminating against Jewish students, and the idea was, “We need a meritocracy so everyone can be considered equally,” and now you are hearing, many of these elite institutions are deciding — and certainly the Supreme Court has been examining this as this has worked its way through the circuit courts.

It appears the Ivy League schools are now discriminating against Asian people because there are too many highly qualified Asian students. Not just the public schools, although that’s been a big topic of discussion as well. It’s that now because Asians are doing so well on the standardized tests, they are talking about doing away with them — which to your point, Kenny, flies directly into the face of the meritocracy argument, because the diversity and inclusion standards are not a perfect representation of the American populace. Asians are overrepresented. We have to do away with testing. This is crazy.

XU: Right. Right. And I would like to say a very important truth that I need your listeners to listen real closely: Asian-Americans make up a disproportionate of the nation’s high-achieving teenagers. That’s just a fact, and that’s just a fact. So the fact that Harvard would be 43% Asian if they dismantled race in admissions, should not be a surprise to your viewers, to your listeners.

What is a surprise is that Harvard has been actually keeping a ceiling on Asian-Americans below 20% for the past 30-35 years, and they do this in the name of tolerance and diversity. So in the name of tolerance and diversity, they’re making an exclusive system that’s limiting the most highly qualified applicants in our schools. That’s what’s happening in our country today. We are putting way too much weight in this racial narrative, and we’re diminishing our meritocracy.

BUCK: Kenny, how do you think we can actually get more Asian-Americans to vote for the not affirmative action-supporting Republican Party?

XU: (chuckles)

BUCK: I mean, how do you think we can get more Asian-Americans to come along and realize there’s high achieving. Obviously, higher per capita household income among Asian-Americans than Caucasian Americans. So there’s tremendous success, within the Asian-American community. What has to happen here for the GOP to get more Asian-American votes? Bottom line.

XU: I think you need to explain clearly the steaks of what’s going on, because you need to tell these Asian-Americans the truth which is it’s not just going to be college admissions. If you let this ideology in the Democrat Party fester, it’s going to take over everything. It’s going to take over college, high school. It’s going to take over your jobs.

Now at American Express, which we’re fighting right now, they’re giving bonuses to hire for equity, meaning they’re going to start discriminating against whites and Asians for hiring. It will follow you for the rest of your life. You want your child to be rewarded for his hard work, stop supporting race preferences — and, by the way, sign up for our campaign at

CLAY: Kenny, this is fascinating to me, because the Democrat’s entire argument is, “White supremacy is the biggest threat to America,” and then you look at the data — and I believe I’m still correct on this — Asian men, per capita, make more money than any other race, gender ethnic group in America. That is Asian men are the highest earning per capita, on average.

XU: Uh-huh.

CLAY: You’ve got, as we just talked about, these individual stories of excellence from Asian people who, by and large, are not test scoring high — as high earning, necessarily, right? These are a lot of first-generation immigrant families, as you’ve said, that are working super hard in schooling and testing.

XU: Mmm-hmm.

CLAY: What we’re now seeing, and I want to hear what the Asian response, when you have conversations with people about this is. We’re now hearing, “Well, there may be white supremacy, but the Asian community is not a minority community. They are ‘white adjacent’ because the Asian community is having too much success.”

XU: (laughing)

CLAY: And even the concept of white adjacent is ridiculous. Because really, the Asian-American experience in this country right now, does offer what I believe is the ultimate story that American tells, which is you can be rewarded the harder you worked no matter what your race or ethnic group background is. Do Asian people in general, in your experience, buy into this argument — and to Buck’s point, are they increasingly moving towards the Republican Party over this issue?

XU: Well, there’s a lot of questions there. I’ll start with the last one. Yes, they really moving to Republicans. More Asians voted for Youngkin in 2021 than they have Obama or John Kerry even. But to the question of “white adjacency.” Think about what you’re really saying when you say Asians are “white adjacent.” You’re saying that hard work, studying, test preparation — or preparation in general — discipline, low rates of crime and strong family values are “white,” are “white values.”

That’s what you’re saying. That’s racist. Black people, Hispanic people, Asian people have proven over and over again that people who adopt those kinds of values — in any case, any culture — are capable of success in this country. So my message to the Asian listeners of your show right now is think carefully about what you are really saying when you are spouting off these talking points.

CLAY: It’s fascinating how the treatment here is, because it definitely destroys the argument of a white supremacist country to have Asian people dominating in all of these meritocratic universes.

XU: (laughs)

CLAY: Right? I mean, it’s amazing.

XU: This is why the Asian-Americans are “the inconvenient minority.” This is why they’re the inconvenient minority, because how could a white supremacist country let — a truly white supremacist country, as in governed by whites who want whites to advance at the expense of others. Why would they let this group of Asians beat them in college attainment, in average salaries? Asian men have the highest salaries. No. That’s not the kind of country this country is, and we have to debunk this country right away, and Asian-Americans do.

BUCK: Kenny, thanks so much.

CLAY: Fantastic stuff, and we appreciate it.

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