Affirmative action: end it
I was sitting in a Subway shop near Harvard Square watching the students. It is clear that Harvard, like many great universities, has become a “majority minority” in many of its departments. In fact, non-Hispanic whites make up only 44.5% of Harvard students. Since they make up 66% of the population, there is obviously something wrong with that number if you are a follower of the race counts group.
I am not.
I believe in excellence. We should seek to be the best and get the best people we can into jobs and schools. This will mean that population in elite institutions will almost never equal percentages of ethnic and racial groups in the general population. In fact, if percentages within particular organizations too closely track national averages, you know that the fix is in.
My ancestry is German and Polish. Germans are America's largest ethnic group, accounting for more than 17% of the U.S. population in the 2000 census. If you look at the nearby map, Germans are the light blue. Beyond that, Germans have been present in large numbers in the U.S. since before the Revolution. Of the 44 presidents, how many have been German? One and a half. Eisenhower was German and Hoover was Swiss German. If Germans had been represented in proportion to their numbers, there should have been more than seven. Do we blame discrimination?
Affirmative action made some sense back in the 1960s and the "original" form of affirmative action still makes sense today. Proper affirmative action "casts a wider net", "values differences" & affirmatively seek to make opportunity more widely available. We debouched to counting color. We should get back to our values and judge people by the content of their characters and not by the color of their skins.
Posted by Christine & John at October 26, 2012 8:44 PM
Interesting take on affirmative action. Your assumption is that the conditions of the 60’s that justified affirmative action no longer exist. That would seem to be an empirical question only answered by “debouched color counting.” How else do you determine if people are actually being judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skins. Bean counters are necessary not only in business but in evaluating social conditions.
Back in the 1960s we essentially had two races and you could identify lots of commonality. Today, we are much more ethnically diverse.
If you want affirmative action to function, you have to discriminate not only against whites but also much more strongly against Asians.
Beyond that, many of the black beneficiaries of affirmative action are now immigrants from the West Indies or Africa. These are not African-Americans in the sense that they shared the history of slavery and Jim Crow.
The most ridiculous category is “Hispanic” which includes people of all races, various cultural groups and vastly different prospects. My daughter is “Hispanic” since she was born in Latin American. Her ancestry is Northern European, but this is no different from many people in Argentina, Chile or other places that are called Hispanic simply because their grandfathers went to South instead of North America.
It just doesn’t make sense anymore.
How can you evaluate people? In the case of school, just look at the records and don’t ask about race. If the class is some percentage or other, don’t worry about it.
I also am a believer in open enrollment when possible. Let people who want to take the hard classes. if they pass, good. If not, let them try again or work harder until they do.
We all express prejudices at time. I have heard blacks say lots of things about white and vice versa. It depends on what you do about them.
The bottom line is that it is impossible that a highly qualified black man will not be offered a place in a university over a similarly qualified white man. The same will happen with jobs etc.
Re prejudice - these are generalizations. It also depend on what you are counting. Some people say that criticizing affirmative action is racist. They in fact are full of shit, but that might appear on a test. I have seen it called racist when someone says that blacks commit relatively more crimes than whites. This is simply a statement of fact. Should we lie to be PC?
Clearly, race is no longer a determining issue. We have a black president, black attorney general. In the 21st Century, blacks have held the Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson’s job, three quarters of the time.
Affirmative action is now aimed mostly as Asians. The chief beneficiaries are immigrant blacks, whose families has no part of slavery or Jim Crow. Or people like Barack Obama, who grew up in excellent circumstances, went to private schools and had not significant connection with the American black experience until adulthood.
It just no longer makes sense.
Returning to the “attitudes” it depends on what you do. Obviously schools admit qualified blacks and firms hire them. You might also find prejudice against Asians, yet as group they do very well.
In schools, I would favor complete color blindness. Just look at the credentials.
What I suggested when asked by a major university was simply to determine the level needed to succeed. They might have many times as many qualified applicants as places. Then they should just use a random number generator. That would eliminate bias.
In my work I once won an award for promoting blacks. The people who gave me the award were actually disappointed when I told them that I paid no attention to race, but that the blacks I promoted were the best qualified. The next year, the same guys gave me a hard time for not promoting a black guy less qualified than a white one. They admitted to me that the black man in question told them that I treated him very fairly and gave him extraordinary opportunities to learn. He did not want to complain. When I asked them, then, what was the problem, they told me outright that they just thought I should promote more blacks no matter what.
I am a better man and a better leader than that. I do what is right, not what is expedient. If that makes me suspect in this corrupt world, I am proud of that.
Another question C&J, when were our values ever “judge people by the content of their characters and not by the color of their skins.”? I cannot recall a time when we did that. I would think you are asking us to boldly move in a new direction, to go where no man has went before.
I don’t necessarily disagree with you on this issue but I am skeptical of the reasons you would like to see AA done away with.
I do agree that all people regardless of skin color have prejudices and have heard comments from those of other races that could be considered derogatory.
Like all values, not everyone was able or willing to attain them. But those were our values.
IMO many in the civil rights movement abandoned those ideals in the 1970s anon, when they opted for a racial spoils system. Some, like Sharpon & Jackson, became racist hucksters, shaking down firms and organizations for money and position.
I understand that progress was slow, but keeping to the ideals would have been the better path.
We have since that time become a nation of racists based on not being racists. Let me explain. The anti-racist ideology I learned and still believe is that if we treat someone differently simply because of race, then we are racist. For example, if I would criticize a black man for a particular action and fail to do the same for a white, that is racist.
Today we often stand that on its head. We take the action and correlate that with race and then use that. For example, if you hate rap music or criticize behaviors that are common among some blacks, you run the risk of being called racist.
I stick to the original meaning. If I treat people in similar ways no matter their race, I am not racist. If I make differences, then I am.
I understand it is difficult to understand your own biases and that we have to be extra careful. But race is complex. The in and out groups can change. I remember living in Poland, where I share genetic heritage with much of the population. Yet when I met an American black, he was more “my” group that the Poles.
Definitions of race and in groups have changed. In the 19th Century many people preferred blacks to the Irish. If you look at recent times, you see that Asians are not often included among “whites”. A person from southern India is usually a darker color than most American blacks.
I do not think we should mix race with culture or behavior. We should never treat people differently because of their race, but we should always treat them differently because of their culture and behavior. Race should not enhance or detract from our judgement of behavior, which after all reveals content of character.
As I wrote above, the original affirmative action, working to extend diversity and trying to cast a wider net, is great. We should be doing this in our relationships and even our ideas. But trying to match colors to this is always a act of prejudice.
There is something unusual taking place.The Democrat Newspapers are endorsing Romney. The Des Moines Register is the latest in a string of papers to endorse Romney. The last Republican to be endorsed by this paper was Richard Nixon. These news agencies are liberal democrat; so why are they endorsing Republicans? The are pro-abortion, they are pro-welfare, they are pro-tax, they are anti-corporation, they are anti-military; so why do they support Republicans? The first reason is the economy. When the economy is hurt, they are hurt. They know Obama’s plan has not worked and 4 more years of the same thing would produce the same results.
They second reason is possibly Obama’s continued use of them. Meaning he is trying to use the press, without really tellng them anything. He would rather spend his time on the Commedy Channel. He refuses to answer questions and he refuses to have press conferences.
When Romney wins, it won’t change anything; they will go back to attacking the Republicans, but for now there is a real disgust among the press for Obama.
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