67 Thoughts on “The Case Against Affirmative Action

  1. Who is in need? Are the schools who have tailored their curricula to benefit the standardized tests of No Child Left Behind in order to receive more funding and left important subjects like science and the social studies by the wayside more in need? Or are those who are keeping well-rounded curricula but failing due to other reasons in need?

    Low-income urban schools are in need, and measurably so.

    You can measure success and failure in schools, and our measures have clearly shown that drop out rates highly correlate to poverty. So instead of trying to apply resources to schools based on race, we do it on need.

    Much more “black and white” than any racial categorization, to be sure.

  2. Oh how easy it is for you to just assume. As they say, Jere, to assume only makes an ass out of you and me. I said regardless. All I said was that you are such a big proponent of equal rights but you still divert larger issues to argue a small part of a big picture. I never said I was for or against equal rights. It doesn’t matter in this conversation now does it?

    In the end, I think you are an elitist who continually thinks you and your opinion are better than any of the opposition. You never give anyone a chance to voice their opinions and you jump to conclusions. When someone from the opposition even tries to agree with you, as I have on occassion, you jump down their throats before fully reading and understanding what they have to say. I have never put you down in the way you have just done to me. I have never said “the world is better off having me over you.” You on the other hand have. You on the other hand believe you and your opinion have more legitimacy. So much for equal rights. I have never marginalized you in the way you say I do to all others. I have let you have your voice and never said that you should shut up. You on the other hand refute anything I say and merely assert your “superiority.” It looks like you’re the one trying to do the marginalization.

  3. Do you know anything about the school system in Southern Illinois? You say urban low-income deserve more need than you do not agree with Teach for America. Teach for America has spread its resources between urban and rural schools. My point was that they have never come near some of Illinois’ worst scoring schools. So they have conveniently determined inner-city schools of Chicago more deserving of need than rural Southern Illinois? But why?

  4. I never said I was for or against equal rights. It doesn’t matter in this conversation now does it?

    Actually, you said it quite explicitly:

    Instead I have consistently sought to better the culture and race I belong to because of historic and present inequities and injustices.

    You clearly are against equal rights. And given the subject of the conversation is affirmative action, and racism, your stance on that is important.

    I understand you now. I had thought you were making, as part of your assertions, the statement that equal rights were one of your mores. It clearly is not. Everything you’ve said in the past now makes sense.

  5. You never give anyone a chance to voice their opinions and you jump to conclusions.

    Please feel free to correct any misunderstanding I may have about your position. If you’d like to retract previous statements, please do so.

    When someone from the opposition even tries to agree with you, as I have on occassion, you jump down their throats before fully reading and understanding what they have to say.

    And I apologize for that. Again, please forgive me for misinterpreting you.

    I have never put you down in the way you have just done to me. I have never said “the world is better off having me over you.” You on the other hand have. You on the other hand believe you and your opinion have more legitimacy. So much for equal rights.

    I actually said the world is better off having me win than you win. Just as the world was better off for having the Allies win than the Axis win. Yes, America is not an utopia (yet), but could you imagine living in the Third Reich? In the contest for “lesser of two evils”, advocating equality in an imperfect world versus advocating ethnic separtism and privilege wins every day of the week and twice on sundays. I know you won’t agree with that, and I accept that you won’t understand that, but nontheless it is true.

    I have let you have your voice and never said that you should shut up.

    I have never said that you should shut up either. Your conversation is welcome and your right to express your opinion, regardless of how abhorrent I may find it, is absolute in my eyes.

    You on the other hand refute anything I say and merely assert your “superiority.” It looks like you’re the one trying to do the marginalization.

    http://www.mindspring.com/~mfpatton/sketch.htm

    If I disagree with you, of course I will refute what you say. I do not assert that I am superior to you, but merely that my approach to equality will generate better results for you than your approach in someone else’s hands for someone else’s race. I’m trying to protect you from the marginalization you advocate for, in the hands of someone else.

  6. My point was that they have never come near some of Illinois’ worst scoring schools. So they have conveniently determined inner-city schools of Chicago more deserving of need than rural Southern Illinois? But why?

    How about resource limitations? It seems that the schools you mention should be next on their list, but to assert that they are failing because they haven’t reached every possible poorly scoring school yet seems again like accusing someone of wrongdoing or malintent because they aren’t fixing all of the world’s problems at once.

    Baby steps.

  7. Yet if someone is first making babysteps in improving inequalities through race-based programs because after all there is a racial face to inequities, especially educational ones…then who are you to discount it? Step by step, institution by institution which includes wealth inequality, gender inequality, and race inequality. Step by step. Institution by institution. Of course you are going to disagree with me because you believe only wealth inequality should matter. You see we’re going in circles. I already know what you’ll say. You still have yet to discuss how to combat the need for massive redistribution of wealth seeing as the top 1% of our nation holds the majority of the resources. I’m just going to help you on this one…redistributing requires more than abolishing race-based programs. Equal rights have thankfully grown since the revolutions of the 60s, yet the unequal distribution of resources has only worsened? But why? Is it all to do with race-based programs? Or is there a more fundamental problem that needs to be solved?

    Bettering my own race to correct past and present injustices does not discount a commitment to bettering all races, genders, and social classes. Am I not allowed to have a specific focus as you say you do for color-blind policies? Again, to assume just makes an ass out of you and me. You are assuming again, Jere. I choose not to bring up my stances on other topics. Nor do I try and generalize my views of social justice. I feel blanket generalizations for such different issues would not serve my own beliefs justice. I hope you do not expect me to offer the same blanket “justice for all” like you do. I believe there are more intricacies to explain than what you do.

  8. Yet if someone is first making babysteps in improving inequalities through race-based programs because after all there is a racial face to inequities, especially educational ones…then who are you to discount it?

    Because those are not baby steps in the right direction. They are an elephant trampling all over those not of the proper race.

    Of course you are going to disagree with me because you believe only wealth inequality should matter.

    No, not at all. Educational inequality should matter too. Health inequality should matter. There just is no such thing as inherent inequality between races of people, and race-based programs implicitly assume that.

    You still have yet to discuss how to combat the need for massive redistribution of wealth seeing as the top 1% of our nation holds the majority of the resources.

    I suggest a flat tax, a cap on yearly salary of $300,000 per household (2006 dollars, inflation adjusted yearly), and make it illegal to own a residence you don’t live in.

    Am I not allowed to have a specific focus as you say you do for color-blind policies?

    That’s my question to you, of course. You are more than welcome to have a specific focus – it is your perogative, and I cannot take that from you. I believe it is an immoral stance to take, but understanding that that is where your belief structure lies, makes the assertions you advocate for understandable.

    In my case, you are asking me if I am really for equal rights if I only fight one battle at a time. I believe my answer to that question is yes.

    In your case, I am asking you if you really are for racism, if you only fight for racial superiority for one race at a time. I believe that question is also answered in the affirmative, although theoretically, if you did fight for racial superiority of all races (given enough time), you would be fighting for equality.

    I guess maybe it is best stated that you can fight for equality in a consistent manner by eliminating one form of inequality at a time, but it is much harder to fight for equality in a consistent manner by creating new inequalities, one at a time.

  9. Education and health are apparatuses not institutions. What I argued was that inequalities within these apparatuses of society are based on wealth inequality, race inequality, and gender inequality. Regardless of what you say, there are obvious inequalities for different races. This goes back to my whole argument of institutional racism. Pervasive, yes, but definitely present. Keep in mind these are social inequalities I am talking about, not biological ones.

    As for your questions, I think we should agree to disagree. I believe the way you ignore the racial factors of many inequities is racist (again, pick up a copy of “Racism without Racist” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva). You believe that my understanding of taking race into consideration for solutions is racist. I don’t see us coming to an agreement anytime soon; thus, I think it better we drop it…for a more productive discussion? Do you concur?

  10. Step by step, institution by institution which includes wealth inequality, gender inequality, and race inequality.

    You see, here’s where I think you’ve confused things. Wealth inequality can happen when someone has more wealth than another person. But there is no such thing as “gender inequality” – no one can have more “gender” than someone else! And as for “race inequality”, no one can have more “race” than someone else…

    You use “gender inequality” as shorthand for “wealth, health, and educational inequality between two groups – male and female”. And “race inequality” seems like shorthand for “wealth, health and educational inequality between multiple groups – self-identified races”.

    Why not address the ACTUAL inequalities (wealth, health and education), than the broad brush groups which, depending on how you cut the cake, compare unfavorably to eachother.

    I mean, when we look at someone’s net worth, or BMI, or degree attained, we KNOW something about their wealth, health and education. If you look at someone’s race or gender, you can only GUESS about their wealth, health and education.

    Does that point make any sense to you? Am I being clear about my disagreement with some of the basic terminology and phrasing you’re using?

  11. I believe the way you ignore the racial factors of many inequities is racist (again, pick up a copy of “Racism without Racist” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva). You believe that my understanding of taking race into consideration for solutions is racist. I don’t see us coming to an agreement anytime soon; thus, I think it better we drop it…for a more productive discussion? Do you concur?

    I’ve greatly appreciated your discussion, and believe I’ve come to understand your point of view better. There may be more you are able to explain to me, and more I may be able to explain to you, though I do doubt either of us will move much in terms of our core values. I’m all for moving onto other discussions you may feel would be more productive, although I’m not sure if we would have nearly the debate (I’d almost be willing to bet we agree more than we disagree if we put all issues of the world on the table).

    To clarify one last point, I think you believe that my motivations for ignoring racial factors are racist – that is to say, a white supremist interested in holding back minorities would wave the flag of “equality” to eliminate race-based programs that benefit non-whites. Although you may not believe it (and many people on the sovereignty boards don’t), I do not have racist motivations. I don’t generally pass for white either :). I suppose as a token to that I can attest for supporting redistribution of wealth based on need, and education and health assistance provided based on need (which white supremists wouldn’t support, since it would still “unfairly” aid non-whites).

  12. Education and health are apparatuses not institutions. What I argued was that inequalities within these apparatuses of society are based on wealth inequality, race inequality, and gender inequality. Regardless of what you say, there are obvious inequalities for different races.

    I agree that there are demographic inequalities for different races, no matter what form of identification you use (self-identification, or external identification – although depending on the measure, you can get different results). However, since we can measure inequalities in the apparatuses of wealth, health and education directly (we certainly do to come up with our demographic discrepancy statistics), our scarce resources are best targeted to those we can identify in need.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that inequalities in wealth, health and education happen for myriad reasons (and fail to happen for myriad reasons), so trying to pick something like race or gender, and asserting that it is causal (that is to say, you are poor simply because of your race, or you are sick simply because of your gender), is a simplistic way of viewing the problem, and leads to inefficient solutions.

    For example, I could do a demographic study on people’s birthdates, and I may find that people born on odd days are 25% more likely to be poor than people born on even days. Should I design benefit programs around giving preference to people born on odd days? Pick any random feature of a person, and you can find inequalities (some which correlate even better than gender or race…for example, left-handedness correlates with all kinds of disadvantages). Identifying a correlation is not the same as identifying causality, however, and by mistaking race and gender as the primary cause (rather than a minor contributing factor), you make the assumption that targeting race and gender is an efficient way to address the problem.

  13. Opu on 4/23/2006 at 7:54 am said:

    You put all of this emphasis on being able to measure things. But how do you, for example, measure the nihilism felt by African Americans as written by Cornel West? Some things and some inequalities cannot be accurately and numerically measured. That includes much of the data you use. Statistics is the most effective way to lie. Numbers are not as infallible as you say they are. I knew an accountant once who always asked her clients “what do you want the numbers to say?” They would usually look at her puzzled wondering what she meant. She would then say “you tell me what you want the last number to be like and I’ll make the rest fall into place.” So you can see, these measurements, these statistics you hold so near and dear are just as fabricated as the ethnographic or similar social research. Humans are social beings, it should logically follow that all of our behaviors, problems, and even inclinations cannot be simplified to a number. You seem to want it to be.

    In social science, there is little that can be called causality. I know that. I’ve spent years studying that fact. However, you insinuate that correlation means nothing because you think that there can be arbitrary correlation. Just because there are some false correlations, does not make all correlations untrue, yet this seems to be your point.

    And again, race, gender, and wealth are not the same as education and healthcare. Both of the latter are systemic institutions. They are determined solely by systemic policies, practices, and laws. Healthcare and education are not fluid labels like race, gender, and wealth. I think you are wrong to only view the world through a wealth lens. However, I think you are even more wrong to not understand the hierarchy of classification of problems. I’m not saying to ignore everything other than race, gender, and wealth, but understand other levels’ relationships with those three.

  14. So you can see, these measurements, these statistics you hold so near and dear are just as fabricated as the ethnographic or similar social research.

    So are you saying that all social science has no evidenciary basis?

    If that’s true, why is your idea about providing race-based privilege superior to my idea about providing racial equality?

  15. And again, race, gender, and wealth are not the same as education and healthcare. Both of the latter are systemic institutions. They are determined solely by systemic policies, practices, and laws. Healthcare and education are not fluid labels like race, gender, and wealth.

    Why isn’t wealth the same thing as education or healthcare? Isn’t wealth determined by policy, practice, and law?

    You see, I’m trying to divide things up into needs we can directly measure, and it seems to me that wealth, health and education all fit into that category, while race and gender do not.

    For example, I can identify someone’s need for wealth by measuring their income and finding them below the poverty line.

    I can identify someone’s need for education by measuring their last attained grade level, and finding them without a high school diploma or equivalent, or by testing them and finding them failing on a standard high school exit exam.

    I can identify someone’s need for health by looking at their medical records, and finding them afflicted with any number of chronic diseases – high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, etc..

    Now, can you identify someone’s need for race? Or someone’s need for gender?

    Perhaps you could explain to me why you split the categories in the manner you choose to – at first blush, they seem merely convenient labels to forward your argument, but perhaps you have a rationale you haven’t explained well yet.

  16. Opu on 4/23/2006 at 12:30 pm said:

    If they’re convenient then they are based in the convenience of an entire discipline. So I hope you are prepared to take on that argument. I did not make these labels up. I merely was educated and upon being educated I thought critically about the labels, understood the imporance and classification, and provided them for you. They are based in the research you know and love.

    As for the numbers, my job is to discredit you. Not to command my superiority, which is what you do. I am discrediting your raw data because you refuse to ever accept any type of ethnographic or non-statistical evidence. My point is that you should look critically at your measurements before simply waving your hand to say that ethnographic research is nonsense.

    Lastly, those classifications race, gender, and wealth are not things to test. This is what I’ve been saying all along. Those are things upon which discrimination occurs. For example, a poorer person will not have the access to the important social networks to get himself into, let’s say, Northwestern University. An Arab-American is more likely to be asked to leave a plane because he/she makes people feel uncomfortable. A woman is more likely to hit the class ceiling in her work. Do you see what I’m saying? Education, healthcare, work, etc. are places in which discrimination occurs. Race, gender, and wealth are basis for these discriminations.

  17. I did not make these labels up. I merely was educated and upon being educated I thought critically about the labels, understood the imporance and classification, and provided them for you. They are based in the research you know and love.

    Actually, they seem to be based on models of thought, and anecdotes, and fall apart when confronted with logical thought.

    I am discrediting your raw data because you refuse to ever accept any type of ethnographic or non-statistical evidence. My point is that you should look critically at your measurements before simply waving your hand to say that ethnographic research is nonsense.

    You’re doing a poor job of discrediting it, especially because your ethnographic evidence is based on the same statistical methodologies (barring of course mere anecdotal and thought experiment types of “evidence”).

    Education, healthcare, work, etc. are places in which discrimination occurs. Race, gender, and wealth are basis for these discriminations.

    I think you mistakenly put wealth in the category of “basis”. If you really believe that, shouldn’t all rich women and “disadvantaged” races be barred from recieving race-based or gender-based privilege?

    I assert that inequities can be measured in terms of wealth, health and education. You seem to be asserting that they cannot be measured in terms of wealth…rather, you’d like to use “wealth” as a group for examining things like health and education. Perhaps what you really mean is “class” or “socioeconomic class”…certainly someone can come from the upper class (have rich parents, etc), and squander their advantages and become poor – but they still got those advantages.

    Maybe that taxonomy will work for you – we can divide people into groups of race, sex, and socioeconomic class, and measure their wealth, health and education.

    Now, what will you think, if it is shown that socioeconomic class is a major factor in wealth, health and education, and that differences between racial groups and sexes disappear when you control for that?

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