T Nation

Affirmative Action

What are everyones ideas about affermative action. I myself think that it is ok up until a point. I don’t agree with quotas, but also I don’t see how affermative action can be very effective without them.

Another thing. Most people that are angrey with affirmative action are angry because, “blacks are getting jobs or getting into schools that they don’t deserve to get into” words of moron number 5 in my town. But many people don’t realize that many other people get perks too. In michigan I heard that being black gets you 20 extra points on your admissions test at the University of Michigan, but being from the Upper Peninsula (a very rural, white area for those non Michigandars) gets you 16 points.

Now I have told many of the affirmative action detractors this and while in the heat of argument/discussion and they “say” that they don’t agree with this either, but you can see it in their eyes that they don’t think this is as bad or not wrong at all.

So I guess from my perspective there are many things wrong with affermative action, but most of the detractors that I personally know are closet or full fledged racists.

Sorry for the rant.

I like this debate. I like it most of all because the NEED for it was proven to the president through scientific studies and observations. This takes away the argument that it was not needed. I can also attest to the fact that racism is still alive and well in many parts of the country and YES, this does affect those determined to get an education, especially in upper educational pursuits like grad school after the under grad degree is attained. I have many stories of the politics involved in higher education.

This is the report to the president in justification of AA:
http://clinton2.nara.gov/WH/EOP/OP/html/aa/aa-index.html

As far as the argument that it was needed once but not anymore, I find that laughable. I do not agree in free rides. I was not given a free ride through school, however, I also looked around the room many times in school and noticed I was the only black person in a sea of caucasians and asians. This translates, even now, into questions like, “You’re the doctor?”

This was also my argument, in some small way, as far as our occupation in Iraq. It has taken about 150+ years for us to get to the point in this country where a slave is contrasted with “a black person equal to a white person…making them just a person”. That means that our 4 year stint in Iraq will not cause THAT much change in any way anytime soon. If it took closing on two centuries to get to this point here, how can anyone possibly expect for change like that on the social level to occur in a few months to a year in a country with that much turmoil?

Bottom line, it may still be needed. Until it is proven that women and minorities are getting equal CHANCES at an education providing the opportunity for major social change, there is little reason to expose of it completely. Hell, I still get followed around the store in some places…and it isn’t always because the clerk is just checking out my ass.

As a brown guy, I am 100% against affirmative action. If anything, it promotes racism. I believe that we are politically equal, and anything that changes that is bad. Besides, I want to be confident that I gained a particular job/ position/ degree at an Ivy League school because of my inherent academic/ physical/ moral merits. Not because I got stuck in the oven a bit too long and came out slightly burnt.

[quote]cymblmn wrote:
As a brown guy, I am 100% against affirmative action. If anything, it promotes racism. I believe that we are politically equal, and anything that changes that is bad. Besides, I want to be confident that I gained a particular job/ position/ degree at an Ivy League school because of my inherent academic/ physical/ moral merits. Not because I got stuck in the oven a bit too long and came out slightly burnt.[/quote]

I agree. It is very possible for a minority in this country to work hard and become successful without affirmative action. In addition AA leaves a “bitter taste” in many people’s mouths, promoting racism.

It’s needed but I think they carry it too far sometimes. They’ve lowered physical standards on some of the tests for firefighters to allow for equal opportunity female hiring. So now someone is getting dragged down steps rather than carried. Certain requirements are put there for a good reason and when it comes to the people who are called on to save lives there shouldn’t be any special cases.

i believe in leveling the playing field and closing the gap of the lower and upper class, with it getting bigger. for example, i come from a pretty poor family and the gov’t gives me some grants and the opportunity to take out loans larger than others. i like the idea of helping those in need or who are not given a fair chance. if a white or black person came from a school system where they would be statistically at a disadvantage then i can see merit in a point system to ensure these people (given all else equal including grades, sports, philanthropy) that they could have an edge as i do. its like if your parents never went to college, then i think they give you more points. society just sucks sometimes. ignorant assholes.

I agree with all of the posts so far and would submit that it is particularly usefull for breaking up jobs that have been controlled by the “good ol’ boys” networks.I’m in western PA, and around here if you don’t know someone, regardless of what color you are, you are not going to get a job with the utility companies,county,townships,or if you can find one, a steel mill.
Fortunately, the higher education system is designed to be accessable to everyone.Having been a student at the local C.C. I can vouch for the fact that regardless of color, once you get there,wealth and privelege mean nothing.I have gotten to see a whole slew of the “good looking smart kids” whither and fail in the face of challenge, while some of the “other people” who are a little more used to overcoming challenges get revved up and determined to succede.The point is that no matter how you got to school, what you do once you are there is what determines where you go from there.
Not to inject a political twist but,…
all of the jobs in my region that are protected by the good ol’ boys are union jobs. The unions are affiliated with the Democratic party.The democratic party is supposed to be at least a bit liberal.I don’t see much liberty in protecting these union jobs from people who want to work and are qualified.It appears that around here(western PA)the unions and the Democratic party are not only racist but classist.They may pay lip service to equality but it sure as hell doesn’t show up in the work force.If you are not one of them by blood, marriage,or some secret handshake that I do not know, you aren’t going to be working with them.
enough ranting, gotta get back to work.

Perhaps a better system (although perhaps not realistic) would be based more on something like geography than race…

I think the lowering of standards because of race or sex is ludicrous.

However… Until we get our education system where it should be (don’t get me started) there are many that are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to getting into colleges, etc.

Filling quotas IS discrimination, period. It’s sad that we live in a world where racism still exists, though.

A word of hope…
My kids (4 and 7) didn’t even notice the different skin color of several of their friends until they heard an adult at the party use the phrase “the black girl” (it wasn’t used is a racist manner, she was trying to point out one kid in about 5 that were all wearing pretty much the same thing - it was a themed party)

~~
Let’s just make it mandatory that everyone creates one child with someone of another race until we’re all gray.
It’ll make for one hell of a party and will take care of the race issue.
:-p~~~~~

on that last part, i vote true.

Despite if we were all gray in color, people in general will still find a way to discrimnate or segregate based on other characteristics. I think its only natural.

I am not opposed to AA in principle if…and a big if…it is racism that is holding Blacks back from success in school, careers, etc.

There was a time when the main driver of limited opportunities for Blacks was racism. Whites with the power to decide Blacks’ fate on college applications and hiring were denying them access based on their racist grudge.

While I’m not even remotely suggesting that racism has been eradicated, I don’t believe the primary driver of failure is racism anymore.

Most of the problem I see is the culture itself. Black culture does not reward education or the kind of social order that produces individual success. If an average Black in a lower class neighborhood gets a hold of $5000, he isn’t going to sock it away for tuition, he’s going to buy new gold rims for his car. The hard question is: why?

The most zealous AA advocate will argue that AA creates opportunities for Blacks. Assuming I agree completely, what difference does it make how many opportunitites AA creates if Blacks won’t take advantage of them?

It falls on the community - the Black community and the non-Black - to have a very candid, frank, and politically incorrect discussion on this topic. Bill Cosby has initiated some of it, and I hope it freshens the debate to get some results.

Aside from the inherent issue with having the government discriminate against citizens based on color or ancestry, there is also the underlying question of whether affirmative action helps or hurts those whom it claims to help.

There is a very interesting study that was just done at UCLA, and was published in the Stanford Law Review, concerning the effects on blacks of law-school affirmative-action policies:

http://www1.law.ucla.edu/~sander/Data%20and%20Procedures/StanfordArt.htm

Suffice it to say, it is not at all clear that affirmative action doesn’t harm black students.

Here’s a summary, in case you don’t wish to read the entire article:

A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools

Summary

Richard H. Sander

        Despite the prevalence of affirmative action policies in higher education, scholars are only beginning to study seriously the relative costs and benefits of racial preferences in admissions.  The recent development of several large, longitudinal datasets on law students and lawyers has made it possible to ask more ambitious questions about the operation and effects of these policies.  A Systemic Analysis asks a number of these questions, and reports surprising answers.   (This article focuses only on blacks and whites.) 

–First, the levels of racial preferences at American law schools are very large and remarkably homogenous across institutions, operating in ways that are generally hard to distinguish from racially segregated admissions.

–Second, black students admitted through preferences generally have quite low grades in law school ? not because of any racial characteristic, but because the preferences themselves put them at an enormous academic disadvantage. The median black student starting law school in 1991 received first-year grades comparable to a white student at the 7th or 8th percentile.

–Third, these low grades substantially handicap black students in their efforts to complete law school and pass the bar. Only 45% of black law students in the 1991 cohort completed law school and passed the bar on their first attempt; in the absence of preferential admissions, I estimate that this rate would rise to 74%.

–Fourth, the job market benefits of attending an elite school have been substantially overrated; regression analysis of job market data strongly suggests that most black lawyers entering the job market would have higher earnings in the absence of preferential admissions, because better grades would generally trump the costs in prestige.

–Fifth, it is far from clear that racial preferences actually cause the legal education system to produce a larger number of black lawyers. Careful analysis indicates that 86% of blacks currently enrolled in law schools would have been admitted to some law school under race-blind policies, and the much lower attrition rates that would prevail in a race-blind regime would probably produce larger cohorts of black lawyers than the current system of preferences produces.

In the case of blacks, at least, the objective costs of preferential admissions appear to substantially outweigh the benefits. The basic theory driving many of these findings is known as the ?academic mismatch? mechanism; attending an advanced school where one?s credentials are far below those of one?s peers has a variety of negative effects on learning, motivation, and goals that harm the beneficiary of the preference. Over the past several years, a wide range of scholars have documented the operation of the mismatch mechanism in a number of fields of higher education.

These findings have stoked substantial controversy, and this website seeks to aid readers interested in plumbing this work further. One set of links provides a description of the major types of data used in the study; another set of links leads to a ?downloading? page, where users can actually download manuals and datasets that can be analyzed by most statistical programs. We will be adding links to critiques of the article, responses to those critiques, and supplemental analyses on points not fully elaborated in the article.

Are all men created equal?

If they are, why are some masters and some slaves?

If they are not, what makes a master and what makes a slave as such?

Is behaviour genetically or racially linked or is it individually managed or a bit of both?

Is it wrong to use previous experiences to influence future decisions?

Is it right to approach every situation with an enlightened sense of originality abscent of all history and predisposition? Is that realistically possible?

Affirmative action and rascism are impossible to fully grasp without at the least a valid set of answers to these questions. And this is only a small portion of the smorgasbord of ethical, moral, and legal issues that arise when attempting to institute some form of equalization or justification for elevation of some and depravation of others.

Affirmative action is rascism. It involves seperate criteria instituted solely on the basis of race.

I find it interesting that affirmative action is not used for all races present in said population. Last time I went to the US in New Orleans the local post office, grocery stores, fast food places and many other businesses employed only black people. Is that equal? Could a white person claim unfair and unjust work practices simply by noting the abscence of their race? Is it really about leveling the playing field or is it about somehting else? And what about the other races? Asian, middle eastern, pacific islander etc… why is no one concerned about their representation in the main stream media? (At least as far as I can tell…)

I don’t know the answers to those questions but I think if the truth is desired then these types of questions must be answered. Even if the answers force an undesired and often unexpected result.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, and you can’t fight fire with fire. Any type of program meant to correct racial deficienceies of the past is doomed as soon as they include a box to check for race.

Not to mention the fact that it seems odd that first and second generation Koreans can set up shops and do quite well for themselves, while other minorities that have been here for generations need a “helping hand.” It IS complicated… I’ve seen studies that show that students who have more “ethnic sounding” names are less likely to be admitted to some schools, everything else held equal. I don’t know what the right answer is, but I’m sure as hell tired of the entitlement mentality that has gripped most of the US.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

I was not given a free ride through school, however, I also looked around the room many times in school and noticed I was the only black person in a sea of caucasians and asians.
[/quote]

Asians are an even smaller minority group than Blacks, and they certainly faced horrible discrimination in the past. What do you attribute their success to?

Here in South Texas, you see one generation come in and work their asses off on shrimp boats, and the second generation is usually college educated. Do you not think that if other minority communities stressed the importance of education the way Asians do, that the need for AA would quickly fade?

My wife and children are Hispanic. I don’t see how a minority group wouldn’t take being told “You can’t do it on your own” as an insult. My wife would smack the shit out of someone who suggested that our daughter couldn’t get into grad school on her own.

[quote]doogie wrote:
Asians are an even smaller minority group than Blacks, and they certainly faced horrible discrimination in the past. What do you attribute their success to?

Here in South Texas, you see one generation come in and work their asses off on shrimp boats, and the second generation is usually college educated. Do you not think that if other minority communities stressed the importance of education the way Asians do, that the need for AA would quickly fade?[/quote]

OMG I couldn’t agree more.
But I think we have to remember that the culture that these two ethnicities are coming from are very different.

I’ve never heard, (that I can remember!) of any other race than black pulling the race card when in a corner.
BUT!!! Ask yourself why…

Is it because the media focuses on this instance because it knows there are still strong black/white prejudices throughout America? - because we all know the media likes to stir things up.

Is it because this country is only now really recovering from it’s slavery practices of the South and the culture within those generations that has been formed because of this?

Ugh, there are a million reasons and actions that perpetuate this. I think it will take much more than an ethnic class itself to stand up and stress the importance of such things that would perpetuate it’s status repair.
In fact, I think it damned near impossible for any class of people to simply do this alone and unfair of anyone that simply points a finger at that particular ethnic group and says, “Sit up straight, eat your veggies, and you’ll grow up to be big and strong!”

[quote]doogie wrote:
My wife and children are Hispanic. I don’t see how a minority group wouldn’t take being told “You can’t do it on your own” as an insult. My wife would smack the shit out of someone who suggested that our daughter couldn’t get into grad school on her own.[/quote]

I am a corporate recruiter by trade. I’ve well over a decade of experience doing this and I can tell you one consistant thing I’ve run into over the years and throughout the country…

I would say that the mentality of each ethnic class is VERY different. And you cannot pigeon-hole someone because of their ethnicity. (stereotype, profile, etc.)

I’ve met many that are not of the thought that they “can’t” do something on their own as much as they “shouldn’t” have to do it on their own because they, as an ethnic class, are owed something by society.

(Although those people are not without blame for that thought process see my above post before you blame the person ENTIRELY.)

I’m against affirmative action. I’m a senior in high school and was just denied addmittance to a specific college that I was looking forward to attending. I didn’t make it in, but a chinese kid did. He had much worse grades than me, and he probably smokes pot and will drop out in the first quarter. That’s when I re-apply.

This didn’t really happen to me, but I’ve heard of it and it makes me angry. By the way, I really was denied to the Ohio State University, and I am re-applying for the winter quarter.

Sure, it could probably help some people get into schools and get jobs that don’t have supporting backgrounds, but it is probably very rare.