Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Acting White: AA, Diversity I & II

My daughter is a high school senior looking at colleges, so I have the pleasure of attending numerous ‘college nights’, as she executes her move into this phase in her young life. This gives me a trench-level view of how advanced education currently views young blacks. Now I’m too old to have experienced the diversity argument of the nineties. Before then it was just straight-up affirmative action (AA), with the goal of righting past wrongs, by tossing blacks into elusive college programs to sink or swim. Unfortunately, too many sank. It turns out that plus addmission points for skin-hue did not translate into grade points for graduation. Surprise!

Following AA, the first diversity push, which I’ll call D1, quietly converted the strategy of atoning for past wrongs, to focusing on balance. If blacks are 13% percent of the population, then they should be 13% of the college students. Fair is fair, right? But this did not work, either. Sure, there is growing black excellence, but not enough of it to fill all of America’s colleges with their 13%. Also, it seems like a quota, and that is one dirty word in the lexicon. So, back they went to the drawing board.

Now we have D2, the second diversity push. Only this time the story is not about the benefit to blacks, but rather the value to all who need to sit in a classroom with blacks, in order to get their educational money’s worth – a diverse learning environment. The plus-points doled out to under-represented minorities are justified, under D2, for the value it brings to the education promise of ‘everybody’ (esp. liberal white kids). And just so long as race is not the too obvious driving criteria for admission, these race-based bonus points are allowed, so says the Supreme Court.

In all cases, whether I witnessed it 20 years ago or just saw it just last night, the underlying problem remains. The bonus points that accompany the diversity recruitment promos still do not translate into the GPA that will make my girl, and me, smile and establish her argument into graduate school. So it is up to me to appropriately counter the bonus points that entice her, and black kids like her, into programs which, by their mismatch skills and requirements, will result in less educational enrichment, lower grades, and fewer graduate school opportunities/experiences.

While we continue with outdated and ineffective solutions, more and more poor kids, of all colors, are being locked out of higher education. It is they who need points and programs to overcome the impact of economically disadvantaged schools from the start. I hate it that Ward Connerly-types have hijacked the pursuit of fair solutions to unfair disparities. Nevertheless, bankrupt educators should neither get away with trickery to prop up an approach that they know does not work, and which should have been replaced long ago.

James C. Collier


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Conservative Black Woman said...

What do you propose as a viable solution to this sitution?

My daughter and I are also working the college night circuits although she is hell-bent on one school and will not consider another unless or until her early admission application is either rejected or deferred.

This whole diversity conumdrum troubles me on so many levels and I wonder who is really responsible for this? Yes, certain inner city schools are sub-standard and that is problematic but I think parents should bear some responsibility for that and I don't believe the inner city school situation will change as long as parents sit idly by and wait for the establishment to change things.

But then what about the kids who will not sink if admitted to a traditionally white institution but would feel disconnected due to the small presences of other blacks. I am a bit put off that HBCU admission standards are so low compared to other schools because some of us parents were actually proactive in our child's education and either paid the price for them to get the best education our money could buy or demanded that our kids learn and make the excellent grades even if it meant teaching them ourselves. Is it fair that these kids should have to go to school with kids who may not be operating at the same level academically in order to feel like they are a part of a community? I guess what I'm saying is I really wish HBCU would raise their admission standards because even the institutions which are considered the best have very low admission standards at least as it relates to SAT and ACT scores.

James C. Collier said...

CBW: Your understanding of just some of the issues re: HBCU's is on-target. Entrance requirements for the majority come in at level 5, or the community/junior college level. This is required to match the skill level of underchallenged black students, which is closer to the minimums (8th grade). Face it, well-prepared black kids have tough choices: promote over their head to white schools (via plus points), attend a matched white school or an expensive/exclusive HBCU, or underchallenge at a typical HBCU. If HBCU's raised their requirements, too many would have to shut-down. I still think attending a matched majority school is the best value for money. ed quality and social. More blacks, lower cost, better grades = brighter future. IMHO.

uglyblackjohn said...

The total admissions seemed to have leveled out in relation to population (counting HBCU's and JC's). I just read a report that stated that 15% of college admissions were A-A. If most were to Jc's and HBCU's - that's probably where they belong. But with such low standards, it cultivates a false sense of acheivement.

Mark Presco said...

While I have found all of these opinions thoughtful and focused on the systemic problem of black underperformance, there is still too much political correct nonsense.

Affirmative Action is an obscenity. This concept threw the whole idea of a color blind society right out the window almost immediately after the civil rights movement in the ‘60s. Blacks now demand that we notice their skin color and give them preferential treatment because of it, not only in education, but jobs and all other things. No black person is owed anything because of what happened to some other black person in the past.

And how can anyone come to the absurd conclusion that blacks should be equally represented (13%) in colleges when all my life I have heard that the black high school dropout rate is around 50%. And it is not clear to me how much of an effort the ones who remain in school make. Oprah has declared that they are not worth her time and money, she would rather educate Africans:

“Say what you will about the American educational system — it does work. ... If you are a child in the United States, you can get an education. ... I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going. The sense that you need to learn just isn't there. ...”

Just who is she holding responsible for educating these children. What can white people do about this when so many of these black under achievers are rationalizing their behavior by declaring that it is “acting white” and they are not going to do it.

If there is a reason for black under achievement other than a systemic problem in the black race, it is not poverty or the inner city school systems. It is that AA has given too many blacks such an overwhelming sense of entitlement that they believe they are owed a living and don’t have to take responsibility for themselves.

The whole concept of diversity for diversity sake is ludicrous. Do we need more social deviants for the sake of diversity? As American high schools have become more diverse they have dropped lower and lower in world ranking. I believe this is primarily due to the increase in Hispanics who also have a 50% dropout rate, but others as well.

Affirmative Action, the effort to be “appropriately black” (we need to discuss what it is to be “appropriately black”), the refusal to “act white” has demonstrated to me that we are not on the path to a color blind society. Quite the contrary. Because of this I believe black people have become the most racist people in the country. I see no hope.

The poor performance of blacks is victimizing us all. Blacks are the ones that are not doing enough to eliminate poverty in this country. They are not educating themselves enough, they are not creating enough jobs for their own people, they are not creating their fair share of the pie. I will tolerate no more politically correct excuses for this under achievement. It the responsibility of us all to create the wealth in this country, not the government.

The only kind of Affirmative Action should be self empowerment. There is a contributor who called himself “ogunsiron” who said it all. We owe it to ourselves as well as the rest us to be the best people we can be for our short tenure on this planet. No amount of adversity abrogates us from this responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Mark Presco,

thanks for the comment !

Diversity is a f**n joke. Sure, it's fun and interesting to work or study with (smart/competent!) people of diverse origins, but since when is racial diversity absolutely necessary ? Do they need black people in china to be doing great ? I don't think so. Is Japan doomed because there aren't black people there ? I doubt it.

Are there any HBCUs at all with strict admission standards ? Spelman maybe ? But I found a referance to an average SAT in the low 1000s. That's not very good at all, especially since that means 900s in the pre-1995 scale. I'd have never, ever considered going to such a a school and would never consider it for a black daughter , if she scored high on standardized tests. I'd rather have her go to a lily-white school with fellow intelligent people. She'd still be genetically black anwyays.

Anonymous said...

This is what happened in KC:

We are not all equal. This is a communist’s premise proven wrong time and time again.

What are black people going to do when there aren't any whites left?