Repeal of race preference programs: Effects on Asians
and public reactions (resent for space problems - ignore if
7barksda at jmls.edu
Mon Nov 27 22:39:03 PST 2006
Bob Sheridan writes:
" Even if it is true that Ward Connerly's role serves to
give whites permission to speak out against AA w/o being/seeming
racist, the fact is that whites have the right to speak out on the
subject, with or without
Connerly, w/o being deemed racist."
I never said that whites who speak out on affirmative
action are racist. I said that they have benefited from racism. And,
this really isn't deniable, is it?
Nor did I say that "all blacks must think alike." I did
say that historically one response of some African-Americans to the
virulent culture of racism that pervaded this society was to internalize
the racism that the larger society directed towards African-Americans,
and to become racist themselves. I didn't say that Ward Connerly was
racist. I have no idea.
As to the unfairness of a white applicant being rejected
because he was white - this is simply not how affirmative action works.
No white applicant is ever rejected simply because he is white. After
all, lots of other white applicants get accepted all the time - he/she
just was not one of them.
Rather, schools who use affirmative action seek to
include members of groups who have been racially disadvantaged by the
society. That is the category - "groups who have suffered racial
disadvantage." That category has to be race-based, doesn't it.
If your white applicant had been a member of a
disadvantaged group, whether racial or otherwise, the school could have
taken that into account for him as well. Instead, he was a member of a
group who had been racially advantaged by the society - so there was no
reason for the school to take his race into account in the admissions
Not so for applicants of color - they are racially
disadvantaged groups. That is, racial disadvantage is the criteria for
affirmative action- not race, qua, race. Some other disadvantaged group
could get a boost (gender, class, etc. ) - why not racially
To me this is just simple logic.
Instead, the logic gets obscured by all of the rhetoric
about "reverse discrimination" - i.e. what used to be called a "remedy
for race discrimination." Under this view, racially disadvantaged
groups cannot get a remedy for their racial disadvantage, unless,
astoundingly, the remedy is "race -neutral" - that is includes benefits
for groups who have NOT been racially disadvantaged.
This makes no sense, does it?
I am not beating up upon you Bob - you are just stating
the standard argument. But, so help me - this position is completely
irrational. Why must non-victims get relief, in order for victims to
That is like saying, okay the state wrongly singled out
your house to be bulldozed, but it can't build you a new one, unless it
builds houses for all of the neighbors whose houses weren't bulldozed.
Not all racial groups are similarly situated without
respect to disadvantage and advantage. Acknowledging that some groups
got advantaged while other groups got disadvantaged is not itself
discriminatory. It is reality based decision-making.
And nor does the "we can only remedy harm done to
'identifiable victims'" of discrimination work. The whole point of race
disco is that your identity is irrelevant. Who you are doesn't matter -
it is only what you are that matters.
If historically, the racial norms in white society were,
"we don't serve them, we don't employ them, we don't rent to them, and
we don't respect them," All people of color - all the "thems" caught
grief because of their race. If you were a them, you were "out" - like
the rejected designers on Bravo.
Even if only 1 out of 20 (5%) of whites enforced these
norms - assuming a person of color would run into a at least twenty
white people per day - (shopping, driving, working, walking), then at
least some white person would likely have given them grief. A POC wore
their disadvantaged identity like a badge - it said "kick me - I'm a
And historically, of course, the percentages were much
higher. Racism was strictly social custom. So, whites who broke the
rules were themselves "out." (I think anyone over 30 - 35 years old
clearly remembers this to be true.)
Yes, some blacks did overcome these economic (although
not social) barriers by superhuman efforts. Judge Leon Higginbotham was
number three in his class at Yale in the early 1950s. And Ward Connerly
made millions. And Bill Gates turned $500,000 into billions.
Question, how many people do that? And how far could
those who did do that have flown WITHOUT the barriers.
Finally, as to Japanese or other East Asians - I never
said that they were not racially disadvantaged. They clearly were. I
simply noted that the group "Asian" obscures relevant differences
between different groups of Asian immigrants.
Again, the salient category is "RACIAL DISADVANTAGE"
which is NOT distributed equally between groups, or within racial
And, to answer the initial question here, I think that
as soon as Asians become a large enough proportion of the entering
classes at elite institutions - the rules will change. Either that, or
the benefit of an Ivy League education will rapidly diminish.
Quite frankly, the same would likely happen at a
predominantly black institution. You would get a turf fight.
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