Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Few Thoughts on Affirmative Action

In light of this week's Supreme Court hearing on the University of Texas affirmative action case, this quote from Anna Quindlen's book Thinking Out Loud has been making the rounds on Tumblr:

The new myth is that the world is full of black Americans prospering unfairly at white expense, and anecdotal evidence abounds. The stories about the incompetent black co-worker always leave out two things: the incompetent white co-workers and the talented black ones. They also leave out the tendency of so many managers to hire those who seem most like themselves when young.

"It seems like if you’re a white male you don’t have a chance," said another young man on a campus where a scant 5 percent of his classmates were black. What the kid really means is that he no longer has the edge, that the rules of a system that may have served his father well have changed. It is one of those good-old-days constructs to believe it was a system based purely on merit, but we know that’s not true. It is a system that once favored him, and others like him. Now sometimes — just sometimes — it favors someone different.
Also, I was charmed by these thoughts from various Tumblr folk:

Photo of a 20-something white woman with sandy blond hair, standing in a big marble hallway

(From Matt Langer) Here’s the latest white woman to petition the Supreme Court to affirm that she was denied admission to college because of black people. And in her very first news interview, with Adam Liptak of the Times, she says “I probably would have gotten a better job offer had I gone to U.T.” Imagine that! And sure, yes, a plaintiff has to demonstrate injury in order for the court to establish justiciability, but really, from what dark, sequestered, fucked up inner reaches of our national psyche can someone find it in herself to say with a straight face that the reason she didn’t get a better job offer is because she went to one state university instead of another and that because of this highly tenuous leap of reasoning we should therefore dismantle an entire legal framework put in place to ensure that ours isn’t a country where the only people afforded the opportunity to attend college in the first place—and then wonder if they wouldn’t be even better off if they’d been accepted elsewhere—are privileged white people.

(From Jess at stfuconservatives) Yeah and of course it’s [people of color]’s fault. Not *her* fault for not getting high enough test scores, or doing well enough in school, or getting good rec letters. Not the fault of the admissions board of her first-choice school, who may have already had enough students in her major or from her high school or one of a million other reasons people don’t get into the school they want. Not the fault of the students who got in on athletic scholarships or legacy or because their older sister is the head of her sorority. It HAS to be the fault of the POC students who stole her spot. Oh, and the fact that she doesn’t like her job HAS to be the fault of her degree, and not of the generally shitty economy or her college grades or which internships she did or anything like that. HAS to be the degree that was wrongfully snatched away by a non-white student.

This is some racist entitled privileged bullshit. I’m sending out the White Women bus to collect this lady. Saying “my life sucks so it must be Affirmative Action’s fault” is just… there are no words, really.
 Just another example of folks who are playing the game of life on the lowest difficulty setting, as John Scalzi put it, or were born on third (or second or first) base, but who think they hit a home run.

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