I started out liberal: the child of Asian immigrants, both parents always voting Democratic.
Then, at college one day, I was sipping coffee in the cafeteria, which featured an enormous glass window. Suddenly, my reverie was broken by the crash of that window being smashed. It was broken deliberately by a mob of black students carrying signs such as “Free Housing for Bridge Students.” “Bridge” was a program that admitted blacks and Hispanics to my prestigious public university with far lower grades and test scores than those required of Asians and whites. That struck me as an example of biting the hand that feeds you: increased entitlement rather than gratitude and subsequent hard work. It was also my first awareness of redistribution, since my parents’ taxes would be paying for the damage. My dismay accelerated when, in my classes, it was clear that most of the black students were grossly underprepared yet felt entitled to ask question after question, slowing the class down.
The next prod toward a realistic view of race occurred when—still as a liberal—I took a job running drug-prevention groups in a largely non-white high school. A number of the kids were very undisciplined—running around the classroom—and when I firmly but calmly asked them to sit down, I was met with such responses as, “Make me! You ain’t my father.” I could not believe that such behavior was caused by the explanations they taught me in college: “the legacy of slavery,” “income inequality,” or “white privilege.”
I quit in shame because of my inability to control the class, let alone get them to slow their drug use; by high school, they already were well beyond experimentation. But with liberal ideology so firmly implanted in my brain, I mainly blamed myself and decided that what I needed was more education, so I got a PhD in education from an Ivy League university.