Thursday, August 30, 2007

Acting White: Affirmative Action Harms Minority Law Students

When I first saw that the Civil Right Commission was going to weigh-in on this quantitative study of affirmative action impact, I thought, “Its about time somebody showed some interest”. I, for one, have spent tens of hours sloshing through UCLA Professor Sander’s study and counter-rebuttals, as well as the disproof’s his Stanford Law Review article has inspired. However, my enthusiasm quickly waned as I realized that partisan politics have long-since taken over the position of any given commission. Anything the current Republican-swayed group says needs to be considered with a jaundiced eye, as would also be the case under a Democratic president.

Regardless as to which side you take, whether that affirmative action admission results in a ‘mismatch effect’ or not, both sides repeatedly agree that blacks are increasingly suffering inside, and outside, of higher education, as the result of current affirmative action. What is amazing is that all sides seem more intent on arguing the emotionally charged cause of the failure, rather than acknowledging their agreement that the failure itself calls for something ‘new’, which the whole country can rally behind.

Whether the current affirmative action is ineffective because the majority no longer supports it, or that it is an implementation that has exhausted its efficacy, is of no real consequence. As a solution, it is history and we need to replace it with something better. Racism will always be with us, but as I look about, I submit that economic-based classism rules our lives. We need affirming programs that support poor citizens gaining the skills to be competitive in their contributions. Our progress must be about making new opportunity, rather than arbitrarily redistributing it. These new programs would undoubtedly scoop up those same poor blacks the current programs are forsaking, regardless of which argument leads the un-winnable ‘why’ debate.

So then, who will lose out if we replace current affirmative action with ‘new and improved’ programs? Concisely, the losers will be rich kids, black and white. Each will get less of a boost for simply being rich and/or being black. Legacy programs maintain the status quo, where rich white kids fair the best, and where rich black kids too often ‘skate’ on initiatives that they really should not qualify for, based on their available resources.

What poor kids need, both black and white, are tailored skill-building programs that launch them properly into competitive mindsets and arenas where they get to ‘sink or swim’ along with everyone else. We must move past our racist fears that blacks cannot perform on par with whites, when given the opportunity. But mostly, we must reject the bait of the rich who are happy for the lower economic classes to argue and fight on lose-lose racial battlegrounds crafted to maintain the status quo.

James C. Collier


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Undercover Black Man said...

James, I also think it's time for us to deal with the fact that, if blacks judged on the same basis as whites can only amount to, say, 2 percent of a given class at an elite law school... that's not de facto racism. That's simply the number of people qualified to perform at that level.

The whole thing of having black students try to compete toe-to-toe with whites who outperform them on cognitive tests is doomed. If half the black students who finish law school can't pass the bar exam... that's absolute proof that affirmative action is a woefully misguided principle.

James C. Collier said...

UBM: AA is a back-end filter that can do no more than boost poor blacks after they have bucked a system that barely gives a damn. My studies delineate many factors, from conception to grade school, that should be ripe targets of new affirming programs - if we could ever get to it. BTW, I can't argue your 'misguided, when you consider that black high school graduation rates tank AA before it gets out of the gate.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree, with undercover brother, that failing the bar is proof that AA is a failure. Passing exams and getting through law school are separate skill sets. Standardized exams are difficult for many, regardless of race, many do not pass the bar, and once you are trained to pass such tests you will.

I say public education - based on property taxes - has taken many blacks out of a level playing field and doomed them to failure. When I was coming along the local government ran education and those that made it had homes fostering reading, industriousness and examples of hard work.

Mr. Canada, in Harlem, featured on the Oprah show, has the right idea and has created the infrastructure in the black community which needs modeling across the nation. What is successful, such as his program, affecting 10,000 black kids and their family, should be instituted by all of us in our communities and then these organizations need to link and share and fund raise. He has proven it can be done and all of the dollars he gets are not from black pockets!

Charles Reynolds said...

We must move past "our racist fears that blacks cannot perform on par with whites.

Dude, where's your information coming from? Were you a foster youth raised in a non black home or something? You ought to shut this blog down. You are giving you white readers the wrong idea(s) (literally).

Again, I have not heard one black person echo that sentiment. Take a look at my profile if you need credibility. Are you fearful that you will not perform as well as whites? Not only does it seem that no black person outside of yourself perpetuate this opinion but there is evidence to the contrary. Despite that, I subscribe to the theory of a man obviously more knowledgeable than you in matters of race,
"all men are created equal."

Anonymous said...

Mr Rey,

Why do you think that Mr. Collier is giving white readers the wrong idea?

White people are not blind to what goes on around them, any more that Asian, Black, and Latino Americans are. The only difference is that Whites have to act like they agree with what the PC crowd endorses, or they get called everything but White.
One can believe that Standardized tests are bogus (I do not), or that more money properly distributed will cure the problem (I don't believe this either), but I think Mr Collier makes valid points.

I live in Louisville, Ky. A major Supreme Court decision was just handed down dealing with our schools policies as they relate to desegregation. I personally am glad to see them go. After 32 years of busing and desegregation plans that required schools to maintain no less than a 15% minority population and no more than a 50% minority population, the test gaps still remain. 32 years, and nothings changed. One superintendent gone, another one in, no change. Now another one will try.

I think it's time to seriously consider the ideas the Mr. Collier speaks of. I think they deserve as much a chance as 32 years of what we went through here in Louisville.

brightstarr said...

Great post. Even better discussion. They have been a multitude of arguments that suggest that affirmative action does more harm than good to the African American community and I cannot say that I disagree.