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Author Topic: Dr King & AA  (Read 10513 times)

blk_reign

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Dr King & AA
« on: January 17, 2005, 02:52:13 PM »

In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s most famous speech, he said he had a dream that one day his four children would live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

To some, that day is here. They say it's time to end programs that give special preferences in hiring and education to minorities and women. Such affirmative-action programs fly in the face of King's vision, they say.

Others say King's words have been conveniently twisted. Though the words "affirmative action" were not used before his assassination in 1968, King spoke repeatedly of granting black people preferences to compensate for past discrimination.

Do you think Dr. King  was for or against AA programs? Please provide supporting documentation to your argument.
We're not accepting this CHANGE UP in the rules. Period. American presidents have been in the bed with organized crime, corporate pilferers, and the like for years. And all u want to put on this man is that his pastor said "Gotdamn America?" Hell, America.U got off pretty damn well, if you ask me...

One Step Ahead

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Re: Dr King & AA
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2005, 03:20:25 PM »
are you not SICK TO DEATH of these threads?

edit: King would be for a more radical AA than the one employed currently
As far back as 1964, he was writing in Why We Can't Wait: "Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic."

King supported affirmative action-type programs because he never confused the dream with American reality. As he put it, "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro" to compete on a just and equal basis (quoted in Let the Trumpet Sound, by Stephen Oates).

King often compared affirmative action-style policies to the GI Bill: "Within common law we have ample precedents for special compensatory programs.... And you will remember that America adopted a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans after the war." (the GI bill gave priority in healthcare, housing, education et al)




blk_reign

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Re: Dr King & AA
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2005, 03:21:36 PM »
are you not SICK TO DEATH of these threads?




actually this is the first thread of its kind...
We're not accepting this CHANGE UP in the rules. Period. American presidents have been in the bed with organized crime, corporate pilferers, and the like for years. And all u want to put on this man is that his pastor said "Gotdamn America?" Hell, America.U got off pretty damn well, if you ask me...

HBCU.EDU

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Re: Dr King & AA
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2005, 03:25:12 PM »
are you not SICK TO DEATH of these threads?

edit: King would be for a more radical AA than the one employed currently
As far back as 1964, he was writing in Why We Can't Wait: "Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic."

King supported affirmative action-type programs because he never confused the dream with American reality. As he put it, "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro" to compete on a just and equal basis (quoted in Let the Trumpet Sound, by Stephen Oates).

King often compared affirmative action-style policies to the GI Bill: "Within common law we have ample precedents for special compensatory programs.... And you will remember that America adopted a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans after the war." (the GI bill gave priority in healthcare, housing, education et al)






I think that was a good post, and you def. quoted the *&^% out of King. I guess i have nothing more to say after that.

blk_reign

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Re: Dr King & AA
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2005, 03:28:29 PM »


edit: King would be for a more radical AA than the one employed currently
As far back as 1964, he was writing in Why We Can't Wait: "Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic."

King supported affirmative action-type programs because he never confused the dream with American reality. As he put it, "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro" to compete on a just and equal basis (quoted in Let the Trumpet Sound, by Stephen Oates).

King often compared affirmative action-style policies to the GI Bill: "Within common law we have ample precedents for special compensatory programs.... And you will remember that America adopted a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans after the war." (the GI bill gave priority in healthcare, housing, education et al)





On the topic. I agree with you. It is one of the quotes that I was going to use as a direct reference. However you beat me to it. ;)

Taken from A Testament of Hope : The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.


Reporter: "Do you feel it's fair to request a multi-billion dollar program of preferential treatment for the Negro, or any other minority?"

Dr. King: "I do indeed...Within common law, we have ample precedents for special compensatory programs. ... America adopted a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans...They could negotiate loans from banks to launch businesses. They could receive special points to place them ahead in competition for civil service jobs...There was no appreciable resentment of the preferential treatment being given to the special group." -- (Interview,1965, p.367)

"A section of the white population, perceiving Negro pressure for change, misconstrues it as a demand for privileges...The ensuing white backlash intimidates government officials who are already too timorous." -- "Negroes Are Not Moving Too Fast" (p.177)
We're not accepting this CHANGE UP in the rules. Period. American presidents have been in the bed with organized crime, corporate pilferers, and the like for years. And all u want to put on this man is that his pastor said "Gotdamn America?" Hell, America.U got off pretty damn well, if you ask me...

Ladyday

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Re: Dr King & AA
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2005, 03:35:48 PM »
are you not SICK TO DEATH of these threads?

edit: King would be for a more radical AA than the one employed currently
As far back as 1964, he was writing in Why We Can't Wait: "Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic."

King supported affirmative action-type programs because he never confused the dream with American reality. As he put it, "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro" to compete on a just and equal basis (quoted in Let the Trumpet Sound, by Stephen Oates).

King often compared affirmative action-style policies to the GI Bill: "Within common law we have ample precedents for special compensatory programs.... And you will remember that America adopted a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans after the war." (the GI bill gave priority in healthcare, housing, education et al)





Good *&^%  :)

Trevor

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Re: Dr King & AA
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2005, 03:49:36 PM »
Though Dr. King has been (rightly) lionized in our culture, I don't think his opinion on any specific policy question is therefore sacrosanct.  A more important question in my mind is whether AA practises are consistent with the ideals Dr. King has been lionized for advancing.

As I see it, there are three main kinds of affirmative action practised, each serving slightly different goals with respect to URM admissions.

First, we get affirmative action to create diversity more or less for diversity's sake.  The argument is that students and workers in a diverse environment work better and learn more because there is a diversity of beackgrounds.  This is the argument you see in amicus briefs by the armed forces and fortune 500 companies.  Interestingly though, it looks least consistent with Dr. King's eloquently-phrased ideal.  After all, the URM's in this case are being valued specifically because of their minority status, or at best because of incidental positive externalities they bring to the student body/workforce.  I think this kind of AA is perfectly denensible, and as an employer would certainly practise it (who can argue with results?) so maybe there's more to this than being purely race-blind.

Second, we get what I'd call "calibrating" AA.  The thinking here is that traditional metrics like LSAT and UGPA undervalue the strengths of URM candidates because those candidates have been subject to adverse pressures, including outright racial discrimination, that have depressed their scores.  URM applicants are actually stronger applicants than they appear, since they have to work significantly harder to get the same scores.  AA simply re-calibrates the acceptance procedure so that it doesn't overselect dominatnt majorities/pluralities.  This kind of AA is both perfectly defensible and entirely consistent with the letter and spirit of Dr. King's famous address.  In fact, failing to practise it would be downright unjust.

The third kind of AA, where I suspect all the controversy is, I'll call "compensating" AA.  The thinking here is that URM's are subject to systemic disadvantages at a societal level, and AA should try to even the score.  Conservatives, even if they are not broadly hostile to racial equality, will oppose this kind of AA because it shifts the burden of compensating for social injustice onto higher education, and worse, private industry.  Where liberals see educators and employers as social institutions, conservatives are more likely to see them as private entities, whose primary duty is to performance, not justice.  I have to admit I'm sympathetic to this view.  At the very least, if we're going to have affirmative action here we need to recognize it as a necessary evil; a project that should advance, as quickly as possible, its own obsolescence.  From the perspective of Dr. King's oratory, the best argument for this kind of AA is that it is an instrument designed to achieve the kind of society he dreamt about.  That is, affirmative action helps move us closer to true racial equality, as a stopgap measure until we get the real problems sorted out.  I think that's a pretty good argument, so long as we remember that AA isn't central to the debate on racial equality, and that we don't expend so much effort defending it that real advacnes are never made.

TheZooker

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Re: Dr King & AA
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2005, 04:11:17 PM »
I really am not informed enough in the areas of King's ideologies to state where I think he would stand.  I would like, however, to quote another great black man, Frederick Douglass:

"n regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us... . I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! ... And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! ... [Y]our interference is doing him positive injury." What the Black Man Wants: An Address Delivered in Boston, Massachusetts, on 26 January 1865, reprinted in 4 The Frederick Douglass Papers 59, 68 (J. Blassingame & J. McKivigan eds. 1991) (emphasis in original).

This is the quote that Justice Thomas put forward in his dissenting opinion in the Grutter v Bollinger case.  I realize of course that it is not the case that the black man is left alone, free to determine his own fate, and that to think so would be overly idealistic.  But I see real strength and power in that short paragraph.  If you are interested, you can read Justice Thomas's entire opinion (it's really not that long) at (it's about 2/3 of the way down the page):   

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=02-241


amarain

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Re: Dr King & AA
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2005, 04:16:38 PM »
Personally, I think the US needs to first address the thoroughly sh tty way it has treated Native Americans throughout the nation's entire history. Talk about a group of people consistently getting the short end of the stick.

One Step Ahead

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Re: Dr King & AA
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2005, 04:27:10 PM »
One of my pet peeves is when someone quotes someone selectively...
A few more gems from Frederick Douglass--

"We all know what the negro has been as a slave. In this relation we have his experience of two hundred and fifty years before us, and can easily know the character and qualities he has developed and exhibited during this long and severe ordeal. In his new relation to his environments, we see him only in the twilight of twenty years of semi-freedom; for he has scarcely been free long enough to outgrow the marks of the lash on his back and the fetters on his limbs. He stands before us, to-day, physically, a maimed and mutilated man. His mother was lashed to agony before the birth of her babe, and the bitter anguish of the mother is seen in the countenance of her offspring. Slavery has twisted his limbs, shattered his feet, deformed his body and distorted his features. He remains black, but no longer comely. Sleeping on the dirt floor of the slave cabin in infancy, cold on one side and warm on the other, a forced circulation of blood on the one side and chilled and retarded circulation on the other, it has come to pass that he has not the vertical bearing of a perfect man. His lack of symmetry, caused by no fault of his own, creates a resistance to his progress which cannot well be overestimated, and should be taken into account, when measuring his speed in the new race of life upon which he has now entered. As I have often said before, we should not measure the negro from the heights which the white race has attained, but from the depths from which he has come. You will not find Burke, Grattan, Curran and O'Connell among the oppressed and famished poor of the famine-stricken districts of Ireland. Such men come of comfortable antecedents and sound parents.

...The negro as a poor ignorant creature does not contradict the race pride of the white race. He is more a source of amusement to that race than an object of resentment. Malignant resistance is augmented as he approaches the plane occupied by the white race, and yet I think that that resistance will gradually yield to the pressure of wealth, education, and high character...
 The Future of the Colored Race
Frederick Douglass
Boston, MA       May 1886