2005-02-25

Affirmative action

Some of what was once here has been moved to the more specific post on
Affirmative action in the workplace.





2010


2010-07-22-Webb-Diversity-and-myth-white-privilege
Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege
America still owes a debt to its black citizens,
but government programs to help all ‘people of color’ are unfair.
They should end.

By JAMES WEBB
Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, 2010-07-22

The NAACP believes the tea party is racist. The tea party believes the NAACP is racist. And Pat Buchanan got into trouble recently by pointing out that if Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, there will not be a single Protestant Justice, although Protestants make up half the U.S. population and dominated the court for generations.

Forty years ago, as the United States experienced the civil rights movement, the supposed monolith of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America. After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers. The time has come to cease the false arguments and allow every American the benefit of a fair chance at the future.

I have dedicated my political career to bringing fairness to America’s economic system and to our work force, regardless of what people look like or where they may worship. Unfortunately, present-day diversity programs work against that notion, having expanded so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white.

In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.

How so?

Lyndon Johnson’s initial program for affirmative action was based on the 13th Amendment and on the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which authorized the federal government to take actions in order to eliminate “the badges of slavery.” Affirmative action was designed to recognize the uniquely difficult journey of African-Americans. This policy was justifiable and understandable, even to those who came from white cultural groups that had also suffered in socio-economic terms from the Civil War and its aftermath.

The injustices endured by black Americans at the hands of their own government have no parallel in our history, not only during the period of slavery but also in the Jim Crow era that followed. But the extrapolation of this logic to all “people of color”—especially since 1965, when new immigration laws dramatically altered the demographic makeup of the U.S.—moved affirmative action away from remediation and toward discrimination, this time against whites. It has also lessened the focus on assisting African-Americans, who despite a veneer of successful people at the very top still experience high rates of poverty, drug abuse, incarceration and family breakup.

Those who came to this country in recent decades from Asia, Latin America and Africa did not suffer discrimination from our government, and in fact have frequently been the beneficiaries of special government programs. The same cannot be said of many hard-working white Americans, including those whose roots in America go back more than 200 years.

Contrary to assumptions in the law, white America is hardly a monolith. And the journey of white American cultures is so diverse (yes) that one strains to find the logic that could lump them together for the purpose of public policy.

The clearest example of today’s misguided policies comes from examining the history of the American South.

The old South was a three-tiered society, with blacks and hard-put whites both dominated by white elites who manipulated racial tensions in order to retain power. At the height of slavery, in 1860, less than 5% of whites in the South owned slaves. The eminent black historian John Hope Franklin wrote that “fully three-fourths of the white people in the South had neither slaves nor an immediate economic interest in the maintenance of slavery.”

The Civil War devastated the South, in human and economic terms. And from post-Civil War Reconstruction to the beginning of World War II, the region was a ravaged place, affecting black and white alike.

In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt created a national commission to study what he termed “the long and ironic history of the despoiling of this truly American section.” At that time, most industries in the South were owned by companies outside the region. Of the South’s 1.8 million sharecroppers, 1.2 million were white (a mirror of the population, which was 71% white). The illiteracy rate was five times that of the North-Central states and more than twice that of New England and the Middle Atlantic (despite the waves of European immigrants then flowing to those regions). The total endowments of all the colleges and universities in the South were less than the endowments of Harvard and Yale alone. The average schoolchild in the South had $25 a year spent on his or her education, compared to $141 for children in New York.

Generations of such deficiencies do not disappear overnight, and they affect the momentum of a culture. In 1974, a National Opinion Research Center (NORC) study of white ethnic groups showed that white Baptists nationwide averaged only 10.7 years of education, a level almost identical to blacks’ average of 10.6 years, and well below that of most other white groups. A recent NORC Social Survey of white adults born after World War II showed that in the years 1980-2000, only 18.4% of white Baptists and 21.8% of Irish Protestants—the principal ethnic group that settled the South—had obtained college degrees, compared to a national average of 30.1%, a Jewish average of 73.3%, and an average among those of Chinese and Indian descent of 61.9%.

Policy makers ignored such disparities within America’s white cultures when, in advancing minority diversity programs, they treated whites as a fungible monolith. Also lost on these policy makers were the differences in economic and educational attainment among nonwhite cultures. Thus nonwhite groups received special consideration in a wide variety of areas including business startups, academic admissions, job promotions and lucrative government contracts.

Where should we go from here? Beyond our continuing obligation to assist those African-Americans still in need, government-directed diversity programs should end.

Nondiscrimination laws should be applied equally among all citizens, including those who happen to be white. The need for inclusiveness in our society is undeniable and irreversible, both in our markets and in our communities. Our government should be in the business of enabling opportunity for all, not in picking winners. It can do so by ensuring that artificial distinctions such as race do not determine outcomes.

Memo to my fellow politicians: Drop the Procrustean policies and allow harmony to invade the public mindset. Fairness will happen, and bitterness will fade away.



Mr. Webb, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from Virginia.


2010-07-23-WP-Pershing-on-Webb
Webb calls for end to most affirmative action programs,
criticizes 'myth' of white dominance

by Ben Pershing
Washington Post voices.washingtonpost.com, 2010-07-23

















2012

2012-12-06-Dalmia-Michigan-transparency-is-the-answer-on-college-admissions
Transparency is the answer on college admissions
by Shikia Dalmia
Washington Examiner, 2012-12-06

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling two weeks ago throwing out Michigan's ban on racial preferences in college admissions definitely deserves a place of honor in any top-10 list of judicial sophistries. But even if the Supreme Court reverses the ruling, universities will still find artful ways to promote their sham diversity. Instead of seeking more court intervention, defenders of colorblind campuses might serve their cause better by simply demanding more university transparency.

The Sixth Circuit has been trying to thwart Michigan's quest for race neutrality in government hiring and admissions ever since two lawsuits challenging the University of Michigan's admission practices made a stop in its chambers en route to the Supreme Court about a decade ago. The Supreme Court eventually outlawed the blatant racial double standard that the school's undergraduate program employed but allowed its law school's more individualized consideration of race. However, Michigan voters in 2006 amended the state constitution by a 58 to 42 percent margin barring all discrimination -- big or small -- by race, sex and national origin.

However, the Sixth Circuit has now ruled that Michigan's ban against discrimination is itself discriminatory. It violates the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection because it leaves minorities who want racial preferences in admissions no option but to mount a counter-referendum. But students who want, say, their family connections or their socio-economic background considered can lobby the admissions committee or the university officials or the governing board. This puts a structural burden on the rights of minorities.

But the same might be said, points out Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity, of a Ku Klux Klan member who wants a whites-only admissions policy. Would the court have qualms about placing a "structural burden" on his rights?

Michigan's attorney general is appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court. If the court's conservative majority sides with him and rules against the University of Texas' race-based admissions policies in a separate case, opponents of affirmative action believe that a new age of colorblind campuses will dawn in the country.

But that is a triumph of hope over experience.

For starters, throwing out racial preferences that benefit minorities while leaving intact (as both Michigan and Texas do) alumni preferences that predominantly favor whites will not advance the cause of racial justice. Why? Because it will open minority seats to competition by whites, but not white seats to competition by minorities.

Furthermore, regardless of what the court decides, neither private nor public universities will give up racial preferences: private universities because the rulings won't apply to them -- and public universities because they will ignore the rulings.

This is not a hunch. This is what they've always done.

...




















2013

2013-06-13-WP-Large-majority-of-public-opposes-affirmative-action-in-university-admissions
Wide majority opposes race-based college admissions programs, Post-ABC poll finds
By Scott Clement
Washington Post, 2013-06-13

Americans overwhelmingly oppose race-based college admissions
and support extending federal benefits to same-sex couples,
according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that finds broad public agreement
on issues awaiting Supreme Court decisions this month.

Three quarters of Americans, 76 percent,
oppose allowing universities to consider race when selecting students,
the key element in affirmative-action programs in universities nationwide.

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