Ten

« Lott to Frist? - Racism to Medical Fraud | Main | Bush Parties w/ Lott & Thurmond »

December 18, 2002

"Discipline" versus Racism

In comments, Michelle Dulak raises the hard question of inter-ethnic competition among students:

And the diciest aspect of the whole "Asian" question is that Asian-American students by and large work their butts off in a way that their fellow-students-of-other-ethnicities don't. What do you call that? "Cultural capital"? (In which case it's presumptively unfair that they have it and others don't.) Or just good discipline? (In which case we should follow their example, without envy.)
That seems like a fair point but here's the kicker- what if asian and white students are rewarded for their hard work, but blacks (or latinos) are not. The original NY Times article I cited (via Brad Delong as a permalink) has chilling evidence that this is exactly what's going on.

"Discipline" is a nice quality but it's easier to have when you have greater assurance that it will be rewarded with a job interview. See this paragraph, which I didn't highlight in the original post but it's chilling:

[The report's] most alarming finding is that the likelihood of being called for an interview rises sharply with an applicant's credentials like experience and honors for those with white-sounding names, but much less for those with black-sounding names. A grave concern is that this phenomenon may be damping the incentives for blacks to acquire job skills, producing a self-fulfilling prophecy that perpetuates prejudice and misallocates resources.
Really-- think about it. If working hard does not increase the chance of getting jobs for black applicants, "lack of discipline" is actually rational behavior.

That's not an issue of cultural capital but racist refusal in society to reward hard work by black students. It's easy and understandable for the Asian American community to feel "hey we work hard, why don't they", but if society is rewarding asian students for their hard work, but not black students, the issue is far more complicated and sinister.

This is where I find that even most liberals fall short, as with my debate with Tapped. The denial and refusal to deal with PRESENT RACISM in society is a form of racism, for it means that people assume that racial inequality is the result of inferiority on the parts of blacks (whether phrased in genetic or cultural terms) rather than as a result of racism by white society.

To assume a lack of pervasive prejudice is to assume that racial inequality is natural. For the life of me, I cannot understand how that differs from any reasonable definition of racism?

For reference, here is the original paper by Marianne Bertrand of the University of Chicago and Sendhil Mullainathan of M.I.T.

Posted by Nathan at December 18, 2002 10:31 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.nathannewman.org/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/422

Comments

My best friend in Jr.High lived in our coop building in Manhattan. We went to the same school. When I had a problem in school, the administrators got in touch with my mom. When her mom was institutionalized for a nervous breakdown and left her and her brother alone in their house without money for food (they were at our house a fair amount) and her grades dipped, she was tracked into slow learner classes.

I tried to help her with her homework, but she didn't bother because she knew that she, like the rest of her friends who were tracked with her, were "stupid"

See if you can attach the skin colors to this story.

Posted by: julia at December 18, 2002 01:50 PM

Nathan,

I need first to point out that the study does not address Asian-Americans at all. When you say "[T]he society is rewarding asian students for their hard work, but not black students," you are "arguing from facts not in evidence." Or, once again, treating Asian-Americans and white Americans as interchangeable categories.

The study seems flawed to me because the "black" names are unambiguously black, but the "white" ones are not unambiguously white. To the researchers' credit, they did try to check this by asking random people in Chicago what race they'd assign to various names (among a number of other questions, which was a good precaution). But still, what they ended up with was a list with obviously black names on one side, and sort of generic "Anglo" names on the other side.

I don't know about you folks, but I am *much* more certain that someone named "Keisha" is black than that someone named "Emily" is white. "Emily Walsh" doesn't look that different to me from "Anita Hill." Now "Ingmar Ingolfssohn" I can safely assume to be white.

The study's authors don't explain how they generated their lists in the first place, but I guarantee you that their list of "black names" was not the actual top-10 list of names for black babies during those years. But the "white" list may have been made that way.

Posted by: Michelle Dulak at December 18, 2002 02:54 PM

I should not have to post this, but I will anyway.

When I wrote of Asian-American kids' "discipline," I meant in contrast to white kids' performance. I thought I'd provided enough context in my immediately previous post:

"[I]f immigrant [Asian] kids in poor but well-educated families (and probably stuck in poor schools -- I assume that poor immigrant Asians would settle where housing is cheap and use public schools) out-perform white kids with better schools and higher family incomes, are higher incomes and better schools for all going to even things out?"

I was not pitting stereotypical lazy blacks against stereotypical industrious Asians. I was looking at the *white*/Asian divide and trying to see how it might illuminate the larger question.

There are difficult issues here. It is a fact that Asian-American students as a group surpass white American students on most standardized tests, and that they dominate top university programs in mathematics, engineering, and the physical sciences. The Asian-American population on an elite college campus is hugely out of proportion to the Asian fraction of the American population.

So the questions are (1) why?; and (2) is it a problem?; and (3) if it is, what do we do about it?

To (1) Nathan answers that a lot of Asian-Americans are "wealthier" in cultural terms than their incomes suggest, since they are recent immigrants with little cash but much education. OK, but that's the sort of phenomenon that won't last more than a generation in the US. Their kids are going to ride that privileged background right to the top, and then we can capture their kids' privilege by the usual socioeconomic measures, right?

I suggested that a lot of Asian-American kids have grown up in a culture that disciplines them to extremely hard work. The question becomes whether that's a merit in itself, or an unfair advantage.

To (2), yes, it damn well is a problem, in the sense that it forces us to figure out what we mean by (say) "disadvantage." If (monetarily) poor Korean kids are routinely outperforming much richer white kids, does it mean that they have some other sort of advantage? If so, is that unfair? Should it be compensated for somehow?

If we are trying seriously to "equalize opportunity," these are questions we have to ask.

As for (3), well, that's the crux, isn't it? What *could* you do, other than literally discriminate against Asian-Americans so as to get the "right" fraction of white students? This has been tried, generally by the "progressive" contingent (I mentioned Lowell High School in San Francisco earlier; there was also the applicant to Boalt Law School at UC/Berkeley some years back who got a letter indicating that he was at such-and-such position on the Asian waiting list).

Posted by: Michelle Dulak at December 18, 2002 04:49 PM

I have a question on affirmative action. I've always heard that if you are of asian descent it's harder to get into ucla et al than if you are white. If affirmative action is supposed to address the discrimination of the past as Nathan Newman argues, why is it harder (assuming what I've heard in the past is true) for asian students to get into the top state universities of california?

Posted by: William Utley at December 18, 2002 04:50 PM

I see that I've forgotten to address this:

"To assume a lack of pervasive prejudice is to assume that racial inequality is natural. For the life of me, I cannot understand how that differs from any reasonable definition of racism?"

Oh, golly.

So unless I assume "pervasive prejudice" (presumably some weird preference by the UC Admissions staff), I must assume that the 80-90% Asian makeup of the engineering classes I took at UC/Berkeley represents Asian genetic superiority in math or something? Jeez Louise.

Look, if you disallow all alternatives but "pervasive prejudice" and "genetic inferiority," then obviously anyone who denies "pervasive prejudice" is a racist more or less by definition. But limiting yourself to those two explanations unhinges you from the real world.

Posted by: Michelle Dulak at December 18, 2002 05:17 PM

The problem I have always had with Noam Chomsky is that he is so anti Freudian that his left wing politics mirrors conservative economic theory in its reliance on static rationalist notions of human character. According to his logic, If two people react differently to the same stimulus there must be some hidden difference between the two instances of that specific stimulus. The subjects themselves must be identical. But poverty does different things to different groups, and it is important to consider its various origins. It is a cliche to say that blacks are still affected by the legacy of slavery. But it is not yet a cliche to say that Southern culture is still affected by the bloody history of Scotland and Ireland; or that Appalachia is still a backwater for white and black. What can we say about South Boston? What is the drop-out rate of Italian American high school students in New York City?
As to Asians vs Blacks: Confucianism is a powerful philosophical and academic tradition. I have a friend who pays his mother $500 a month, only as a sign of respect that is demanded of him by his family. And there was no Asian 'Middle Passage'. This is not to say there is no current racism, it is stronger than most whites will ever admit. And most dangerous where it exists in secret. Nothing about the current Trent Lott fiasco surprises me- except the fiasco itself. When Republican politics is not caught up with repugnant ideas of class, it is as full of the same in regards to race. It is only the most modern reactionary who thinks race- or gender- is of little importance. Nontheless, as far as this debate is concerned it is important to understand for once our general fragility. I am more interested in, and give more credence to, the research of Claude Steele http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/99aug/9908stereotype.htm than the simpleminded ponitfications of his brother Shelby.

Posted by: seth edenbaum at December 18, 2002 09:02 PM

Michelle,

Your observations about how the study in question is "flawed" points to your frame of reference: Yes, the "white-sounding" names sound generic to you. That would essentially be the meaning of generic. Generic in this country by and large is a proxy for what is white (as in the absence of any color, ethnicity, race, etc). Furthermore, the author's intent was not to discover the most popular black names, but to identify names that would be "unambiguously" black-sounding. And I believe that they succeeded in that. That the white names sound generic to you is another debate.

As to your second post above, I would throw this out and wait for the flames: Your arguments are only supportive of the notion that Asian Americans (at least those of some sub-groups) may not NEED affirmative action, as they have little difficulty getting into the elite schools. And I'm not sure how kids are raised becomes an "unfair advantage." Maybe you can shed some light on that. My only sense so far is that you're relying too heavily on traditional notions of acadmic acheivement (i.e., test scores and GPA). Admissions departments (at least the ones in elite schools) look beyond those numbers and take into account a plethora of other information - including race, ethnicity, gender, family income, extra-curricular activities, community activities, what instrument you play, have you been to another country, etc., etc.

To William U: affirmative action is supposed to address discrimination of the past and the present. Competition for Asian Americans getting into UCLA or Berkeley is tight - because a lot of Asian Americans want to go to those schools, and a lot get in. Put a different spin on it. Say you're a football player. What school to you want to go to? Don't you think the competition for football players to go to say, Notre Dame, is about as tough as for Asian Americans trying to get into Berkeley? So what do you do about that (especially if you're an admissions officer)?

Back to Michelle (in your 3rd post above):

Your example of the Asian makeup of your engineering class is not useful. The makeup of individual classes is a function of student choice, not affirmative action-related admissions decisions. So you're attempt to create a dichotomy between pervasive prejudice and genetic inferiority doesn't work (at least for me). Can you give it another shot?

And yes, anyone who denies pervasive prejudice is in effect racist. And this isn't necessarily an either/or scenario. But if you are an admissions officer, and you ignore the role of racism and prejudice in the lives of ethnic minorites, you are making tacit judgements about their ability or inability to succeed. In other words, if Keisha and Emily attended the same school, who gets a second look? And why?

As for Seth:

How is it "cliche" to talk about the legacy of slavery? And no, the Chinese didn't have a "middle passage" as it's defined in the history of African slavery in this country, but there is a history of forced Chinese labor in this country - how do you think the railroads got built in the western part of this country? And a well articulated history of racism. Check out "Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans" by Ronald Takaki.

Posted by: Mark at December 19, 2002 10:32 AM

Mark,

About (1) you're simply missing my point. I understand that the researchers wanted "unambiguously black" names. I only think that they should have been pitted against "unambiguously white" names. I guarantee you that there's not one white "Aisha" in a million Americans. I also guarantee you that a random million of Americans will include many, many black "Emilys" and "Annes." Like I said, there are unambiguously "white" names, and if the point of the study is to measure racial bias, why the *hell* don't they use unambiguously white names beside unambiguously black ones?

For what it's worth, I remember a couple Emilys and many Annes from my teaching years. None were black, and none were white. Their surnames tended to look like "Yu," "Chao," "Nguyen."

On (2), it's not who "needs" affirmative action but who deserves it. If someone steals my car, it's no answer to say that I don't really *need* a car; something has been taken from me. [NB I do not drive, so if you are planning a "well-you-only-say-that-because-you're-a-gas-guzzling-menace-to-the-planet" screed, take it elsewhere.]

In this case we have Asian-American kids who are doing extremely well. But they are still subject to white racism, aren't they, Mark? Ought they not to be compensated in some small degree for this racism? Granted that they already kick butt wrt grades and test scores, but wouldn't they kick yet bigger butt if there were no anti-Asian racism, and don't they therefore deserve a yet bigger slice of the pie?

[continuing this in another post]

Posted by: Michelle Dulak at December 19, 2002 04:58 PM

Michelle, I don't think I'm missing your point. It would be an easier point to take if you could give me some examples of "unambiguously" white names. And the way your throw around your guarantees brings to mind the line in the Ad for 2 Weeks Notice: "Well, that's ridiculous, Have you met everyone in the world?" I think I understand your point that the researchers may be missing something in the statistical validity of their results. That being said, I'll fall back on my earlier post: that which is not racially identifiable in this country, by and large IS white. Now, I know I'll probably catch some heat for that comment. C'est la vie.

As for need vs. deserve: I'm in no way saying that Asian Americans are not on the receiving end of white racism. That's not the issue we've been debating. The issue we've been debating is affirmative action. And affirmative action began as a mechanism whereby you could "equalize" opportunity. Usually that means attempting to ensure that the racial balance at your school somewhat matches the racial balance in your city and/or state. Granted, we've gotten a little further than that, and now affirmative action is used more in terms of engineering a cultural diversity on campus. Which is another debate.

Now, back to whether Asians Americans need or deserve affirmative action. By and large the way that folks have determined how well a school is doing in affirmative action is to look at the racial/ethnic breakdown of its students. And then comparing that to the standard (whatever that may be). I know that at the Association of American Medical Colleges, they do a lot of promotion of affirmative action, but they limit it to what they call "underrepresented minorities." And that group does not include Asians. Why? Because as a group they are overrepresented in medical schools. So you don't need to create any kind of mechanism for that group to increase their access - they already have access and more than any other group, including whites.

Affirmative Action is about who deserves what, it's about who needs what. Yes, Asian Americans have been the victims of racism. But how does that play out in institutions of higher education? Well, it doesn't play out in their enrollments, so you need to look elsewhere. In other words, Asian Americans (and I'm not talking subgroups here, since that's a different debate) are already getting a bigger slice of the pie. At least as that pie relates to higher education.

Furthermore, Asian Americans have been able to get a bigger slice of the pie in less time than African Americans. Is that because they all just work harder? Or is it because irrespective of racism, whites still find Asian Americans more palatable than African Americans. Not as threatening.

Which brings us full circle (I think) in the discussion - at least as it relates to the original post ("Discipline" versus Racism): If you're telling me that this is all a function of Asian's working harder than African Americans, we're going to be fighting about this for a long time - because that does smell like racial stereotyping, or Nathan's 2nd to last line: "To assume a lack of pervasive prejudice is to assume that racial inequality is natural."


Posted by: Mark at December 19, 2002 05:42 PM

Dear Mark,

I'm in Northern California, and we are being pounded by a very impressive storm, and I have no idea how long my power is going to be on, so I will have to be brief.

Unambiguously white names: Ummm . . . Ingmar, Gertrud, Gerhard, Seamus, Fiona, Ian, Dougal, Irina, Dmitri, Jaap, Kaija? It isn't very difficult.

NB I did post a list like this a few days ago on the thread that started all this. I wasn't shirking. ;-)

You seem not to be getting my point about Asian-Americans. If they are outpacing every other group (including whites) in university admissions, and yet they have suffered (and still continue to suffer) discrimination, maybe in a discrimination-free world their numbers on college campuses would be *even larger*.

"Usually [ensuring racial diversity] means attempting to ensure that the racial balance at your school somewhat matches the racial balance in your city and/or state."

I like the "somewhat." Under AA what usually happens is that "underrepresented minorities" more or less match their proportion of the population, "overrepresented minorities" take a, well, "overrepresentative" slice, and white students get what's left -- meaning that they are pretty much the only "underrepresented" category. I think that pre-Prop. 209 UC/Berkeley was less than 40% white; I know California's demographics are in rapid flux, but there is no way that whites were a minority several years ago.

Anyway, surge suppressor is making ominous noises; must dash.


Posted by: Michelle Dulak at December 19, 2002 06:51 PM

You're right. I'm not getting your point. And your last post makes this clearer to me. First, I'm not going to continue debating what's a "white" name. Apart from saying that the names you listed ARE unambiguously ethnic white. But I'm going to leave that alone for now.

I will however go back to the data at Berkeley looking at freshmen enrollment, Beginning the year before the passage of Prop 209:
1995: Asian American 37%, White 30%
1997: Asian American 41%, White 28%
2000: Asian American 44%; White 30%
2002: Asian American 45%, White 29%

Now, for the sake of argument let's add in the data on African Americans for the same years:
1995 6.5%
1997 7%
2000 4%
2002 3.8%

Hmmm. Seems to me that since the passage of Prop 209 the proportion of whites has remained relateively stable, while the percentage of Asian Americans has risen. Meanwhile, the percentage of African Americans has been almost halved in that time. In 1995 there were 222 African American freshmen at Berkeley. Coming to campus in 2002? 141.

Now, according to Census 2000, the demographics for Californians over the age of 18:
White, 62.6%
Asian, 11.5%
Black, 6.4%

Seems to me that Asians were already disproportionately represented at Berkeley, and after Prop 209, that disproporionality (if that's even a word) has increased. And by and large, whites haven't been affected at all. It's the other racial minorities that are getting hit. Those same groups that affirmative action was designed to support. By the by, the same thing that happened to African Americans at Berkeley happened to Hispanics.

Which means that I get to laugh at all these proponents of abolishing affirmative action. Reason being, that their white son or daughter STILL wouldn't get into Berkeley. Unless they can outscore the Asians in the pool. Which judging from the intelligence level of their parents is higly suspect.

Michelle. If you look at the debates around affirmative action over the past 10 years one thing is clear. Those who support abolishing it by and large are not doing so because of any issues of "fairness" or "justice" or "equity." They're doing it for purely political reasons. Yeah, some came to the arena because their son or daughter didn't get into Yale and they're pissed. But if you look to the nationally recognized leaders in this debate, and the organizations that suport them (I'm thinking about the American Civil Rights Institute; the Center for Individual Rights; the Institute for Justice, etc.). These folks are committed to creating wedge issues that can be utilized during times of tight votes. And if you look at their positions on other issues, it's clear that the last thing on their minds is what's fair for all Americans. They're focused on what's fair for White Americans solely. Which is kind of the definition of racism. Isn't it? But we can talk about the vast right-wing conspiracy another time. . .

Posted by: Mark at December 20, 2002 07:24 AM

On the names-

Michelle, you study engineering, but have you ever taken a statistics course?

Whether or not the white names are "perfectly" white has no bearing on the validity of the study. Social scientists are lucky indeed if they can directly measure the variable of interest to them, so the literature is full of "instrumental variables."

All an instrumental variable needs is (1) to have some correlation, however small, with the variable of interest, and (2) not to have any direct effect on the dependent variable. If the correlation with the variable of interest is weak, the observed effect on the dependent variable will be smaller, but you can always compensate for that with a larger sample.

So from a statistical standpoint, unless you can identify a plausible alternative channel by which the names on otherwise-identical resumes would influence the hiring decision, the weaker you think the association between the names and race, the *stronger* the study's evidence for racial discrimination in hiring.

Posted by: JW Mason at December 20, 2002 03:31 PM

Put it another way.

Employers who prefer white workers to black workers will prefer white workers to workers of unknown race, and workers of unknown race to black workers.

We find that employers are more likely to hire workers from group A than group B. We know group B are regarded by the employer as black.

If group A is regarded as white, then the observed discrepancy measures the preference for white workers over black workers.

On the other hand, if employers don't know the race of group A workers -- as Michelle suggests -- then the observed discrepancy measures employers' preference for unknown-race workers over black workers. The preference for white workers over black workers must be even stronger.

So again, the weaker you think the association between the names used by the researchers and the assumed race of the applicant, the stronger the study's results are.

*

Yes, I realize that this isn't responsive to any of the substantive public-policy questions, and that the phrase "preference for white workers over black workers" is kind of bloodless and creepy, but maybe we can settle at least this one little area of disagreement.

Posted by: JW Mason at December 20, 2002 03:45 PM

JW,

Actually I have an engineering degree, but right now I divide my time between writing (mainly about music) and playing violin & viola. Have not had anything to do with engineering past 1988. And no, I never took a stat course.

But it doesn't seem plausible to me that the asymmetry here (a bunch of unambiguously black names on one side, a bunch of could-be-anything names of Anglo or Biblical origin on the other.

My difficulty is with the assumption that an "Anne" is preferred to an "Aisha" because she's more likely white. If you ask me to picture an Anne, I can't assign a race at all; I've known too many Annes (nearly half of them Asian, and a good fraction black). If you ask me to picture an Aisha, I can at least take a stab at the race.

" . . . unless you can identify a plausible alternative channel by which the names on otherwise-identical resumes would influence the hiring decision . . ."

But of course there's an alternative channel. The "black" names in the study mostly belong to the faux-African-sounding naming craze of the early 70s. So one piece of information the employer has immediately is "This woman's parents were the sort of people who would name their baby Aisha rather than Mary." Whether it's fair for that to make a difference in hiring or not is another question, but it's distinct from black/white prejudice as such. I bet you could get a substantial difference if you ran the same resumes past employers with "Anne," "Emily," &c. and good old redneck names like "Tonya," "Darlene," "BobbiLu" on the other (NB someone suggested this on Joanne Jacobs' blog; I don't want to take undue credit for it).

I mean, look at my list of unambiguously "white" names. If you see "Ingmar," do you think, "Oh, white," or "Oh, Swedish"? Fiona -- "Oh, white," or "Oh, Scots"? This is exactly the way an employer might see "Aisha" and think not "Oh, black," but "Oh, kente cloth." That is (literally) "prejudice," and I'm not defending it, but it isn't "racism" per se anymore than visceral hatred of rednecks is anti-white racism, and this study doesn't disentagle the two at all. Narrow either "black" or "white" names down to too much of a certainty and you are inevitably going to drag in a lot of associations that are far more specific than "white" or "black." That's why doing it on one side and not the other is dangerous.

I would say that the way to do this *properly* would be to take the top 20 names from the years in question for each race, make sure that there's an actual differential between them, and run the study with a very large sample. If what you say about stats is true, using names only slightly more prevalent among blacks than whites will produce exactly the same results if the sample is large enough, yes?

Posted by: Michelle Dulak at December 20, 2002 04:24 PM

Aaack! My apologies for the second graf there -- after "other" put a close-parenthesis and then "could make no difference to the outcome of the study."

Profuse apologies.

Posted by: Michelle Dulak at December 20, 2002 04:27 PM

Mark,

"Hmmm. Seems to me that since the passage of Prop 209 the proportion of whites has remained relateively stable, while the percentage of Asian Americans has risen. Meanwhile, the percentage of African Americans has been almost halved in that time. In 1995 there were 222 African American freshmen at Berkeley. Coming to campus in 2002? 141."

Hmmm. Seems to me right now, from your own data, that black and white students are underrepresented at Berkeley by about the same fraction. Yes? Black students 3.8% of the Berkeley incoming class vs. 6.4% of the relevant population, whites 29% vs. 62%? I am not certain what that means, but it can't possibly mean that California blacks are disadvantaged at Berkeley relative to California whites. Whatever's going on in admissions at UC's flagship school, you've just proved conclusively that white-vs.-black racism has nothing to do with it. Congrats.


Posted by: Michelle Dulak at December 20, 2002 05:43 PM

Ah hell, one more.

Mark,

"Which means that I get to laugh at all these proponents of abolishing affirmative action. Reason being, that their white son or daughter STILL wouldn't get into Berkeley. Unless they can outscore the Asians in the pool. Which judging from the intelligence level of their parents is hig[h]ly suspect."

Um . . . you don't think anyone else has noticed this? You think Prop. 209 was just a Get Them White Kids Into Berkeley Initiative?

Well, evidently you do, because that's what you say in the next graf:

"These folks are committed to creating wedge issues that can be utilized during times of tight votes. And if you look at their positions on other issues, it's clear that the last thing on their minds is what's fair for all Americans. They're focused on what's fair for White Americans solely. Which is kind of the definition of racism. Isn't it?"

Well, actually, it isn't. What's "fair" for "White Americans" (odd, isn't it, how only militant racists and Leftists capitalize "White"?) is what's "fair" for all.

Y'know, some of us actually are not particularly interested in seeing our racial groups win the Big Capitalist Challenge, any more than we care whether our state wins the Miss America pageant.

Posted by: Michelle Dulak at December 20, 2002 09:34 PM

Whatever's going on in admissions at UC's flagship school, you've just proved conclusively that white-vs.-black racism has nothing to do with it. Congrats.

Cool! I'm confident that what was going on at Berkeley prior to Prop 209 didn't have anything to do with racism either. Berkeley was trying to get a reasonably diversified student body. That job just became more difficult with Prop 209.

I am not certain what that means, but it can't possibly mean that California blacks are disadvantaged at Berkeley relative to California whites.

No, but they may be disadvantaged relative to Asian Americans. . ? Maybe. . ?

odd, isn't it, how only militant racists and Leftists capitalize "White"?

Truth be told, I usually don't capitalize white. The ony time I do (when I pay attention) is when I think I should be consistent between Black, Asian, etc. Furthermore, militant racists (if they're white) tend to capitalize white. Leftists don't. Usually. I don't because I think it's a misnomer. But that's another conversation.

What's "fair" for "White Americans". . . is what's "fair" for all.

Poor choice of words on my part. I was tripping over their language (which happens a lot for me). The couch their work in terms of fairness, but all they're really doing is trying to hang on to white hegemony (how's that for some leftist language).

Had to break it to you, but for the most part, the folks who are pushing for the end of affirmative action have a clearly identifiable agenda of sustaining and/or reclaiming the position that whites had prior to 1965. (Or 1954 for that matter). If you really need me to connect the dots, I can.

But, for the purposes of this discussion I understand that you may be one of the few folks out there who actually wants to have an intelligent debate about the issue. Which is good.

Posted by: Mark at December 23, 2002 01:23 PM

I am an African-American male (Rishon is actually a Hebrew name) who has worked in academic advising for the past few years. I review applications for admission to an "affirmative action" program, one that was initially meant to rectify class/ethnicity/race differentials, but has now come to allow the admission of non-English speaking musicians, low-academic athletes, and rich caucasians who have connections but insufficient test scores and grades. I can usually tell with a certainty the black applicants - but, unless overtly white ethnic (Gaelic, Russian, Scandinavian, etc.) I usually can't definitively associate the WASP names with a white applicant. That being said, with respect to Asian students, while Asians in the main show very high motivation for their coursework, come time for grad school application, the majority (that Comprise my experiential sample) fall woefully short in extra-curricular/breadth areas. I have found great difficulty in assisting many Asian students with their application letters, due to the fact that there is not a work history, a history of campus involvment, not associations of any kind. What usually happens is that the student will end up writing about their parents experience as recent immigrants - not their own. Additionally, as a former lecturer, I have found that, moreso than any other ethnic group, Asians will speak in class to a much lesser degree and be much more reluctant to engage in creative and/or non-fact regurgitation. I have more Asian students try to pin me down to a "right" answer to a paper on the "themes of feminism and opposition to male dominance in Hesiod's Theogony" and subsequently turn in a well-documented but throughly uninspired and unimaginative restatement of lecture, then any other ethnic group. I won't even mention the cases of plagiarism and cheating that involve the "model minority" - nor the number of times my superiors have told me to give them the benefit of the doubt do to "the high pressure to succeed their culture places on them." Like the "first one in college" Latino or African-American kid doesn't undergo pressure - or even the white kid from a working class family doesn't. I would much rather be assisting a potential laden black, Latino, or working-class white realize their potential after having done realtively well in a substandard school, than have a smug, condescending, rich kid who barely squeaked by in a private school sit across from me while a suit fromthe president's office makes sure I don't ask any uncomfortable questions of him/her.

Posted by: Rishon at August 26, 2004 08:51 PM

Post a comment




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)