« on: August 09, 2006, 05:45:43 PM »
However, I also offered a critique of your contention that AA alleviates racial inequity, or racial stratification to use your term, without significant costs. There are indeed significant and deleterious costs associated with AA as it is currently practiced in the US. I noted: (1) It stigmatizes URMs and reinforces the negative stereotypes that our society has perpetuated about certain groups lacking the innate ability to compete; (2) It actually serves to reduce the number of blacks who graduate (and graduate with above median grades) because the attrition rates at elite school for less qualified minority candidates far exceed those of their white and Asian peers; thus an URM student who may have performed admirably and graduated in a timely fashion at a less selective institution fails to obtain a degree at all; and (3) Affirmative Action fails to help those who most need it—truly disadvantaged (i.e. poor) blacks (who actually constitute a minority of the black population despite what some of you seem to think). If our goal is to limit racial inequity (which is inextricably linked to economic inequity), how does it profit society to lavish all the rewards of AA on middle and upper-class black students who should be able to compete on their own merits, rather than genuinely disadvantaged black students, who actually rarely perform well enough to qualify for even an AA admit.
Now this is a good argument. I'm not convinced by it, but at least its clear, reasonable, and on topic.
You make 3 points, so I'll respond to each. But, let me first say that, at this point, as soon as the debate is about the empirical question of whether AA works at an acceptable cost or not, most of my work is done. I'm not an expert on AA, nor am I familiar with all the relevant data as to who it affects and what its costs are, so on these points I am easily persuadable if compelling arguments\data are presented. The best I can do is see whether such arguments may be compelling if there is data to back it up one way or another, and hope others can supplement my understanding. To take your points in reverse order.
3) Whether or not AA overlooks economically disadvantaged is irrelevant as that is not AA's purpose. By arguing that AA fails to consider economics, you're suggesting that only an economic AA is justified because that alone would be "fair" (or "meritocratic," or whatever). This is the the type of argument i don't care for. AA's purpose is not to help out the underprivileged (other policies can tend to that) but to lessen racial stratification.
2) This is interesting, and I would like to see the figures on it. However, as you present it, your point is ambiguous: higher dropout rates for black students (what about other underrepresented races???) in comparison to white and asian students when they are "less qualified" raises many questions of how much greater the attrition rate is and whether or not the greater attrition rate is balanced by the greater opportunities available to those who do graduate. We can at least speculate on the counterfactual: if the students who drop out would, in a non-AA world, have been admitted to lesser law schools, would they have dropped out there as well? Perhaps they would not have dropped out at lower law schools, but the students who drop out would, I imagine, not have made great contributions to society had they gone to a different law school, whereas, those who do graduate from a better law school have a greater opportunity to make important differences owing to the increased prestige of their J.D. institutions. Thus it seems to me that a higher attrition rate, although unfortunate, may be a necessary cost for increasing social fluidity for all races.
1) Certainly this stigmatization occurs, as numerous leaders have discussed it (e.g. Clarence Thomas, as i mentioned in a previous post). And this is a problem. My inclination, though, is that so long as AA increases the number of leaders who would not otherwise be there, this is an acceptable cost since without AA, there would be fewer such leaders (I do not think that stigmatization has held many people back from achieving great things...as with Clarence Thomas). It might hurt people's self-esteem, which is undesirable, but it must be borne until there is less stratification.
And, in general, to 1) and 2): certainly these are costs. Nobody says AA doesn't have costs. But do you truly believe that these costs outweigh AA's benefits?