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Author Topic: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?  (Read 13547 times)

angmill08

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #60 on: March 14, 2005, 05:12:15 PM »
What an interesting discussion.

Yes, I have been to Appalachia.  :) (I tried to insert an emoticon here, because I am smiling. My mother is from SE Ohio, across the river from Kentucky and across the border from WVA. I've done some academic and some personal research there, so it's something I have some identification with.) That said, the white ghettos of Appalachia are the only white ghettos in the US that approach the black ghettos found in most metropolitan areas in terms of poverty and homogeneity -- and I personally theorize that this is related to the exploitation of Appalachians by the coal industry, which has some similarities to the exploitation of blacks by agriculture industry. But that's just something I've considered, and I digress... my point is that a very small percentage of whites live in any sort of ghetto. A much, much higher percentage of blacks do. (I can't remember the #s on this, but remember looking at data from (I think) the 2000 census and I was suprised at how high the #s were.)

I understand the interest in being seen as an individual. But the use of race to categorize and stigmatize people has a long history in the US, and I just don't see how a person can say that it doesn't impact life today. The pattern MC describes of race being linked to opportunity is very clear.  Of course there are always exceptions. But it is a clear pattern. So I go back to saying to whites who feel hurt by AA, you get some advantages for being white, and this may be the one disadvantage with any monetary consequence. Can you honestly say it didn't even out for you?
164/3.46 Undergrad GPA, graduated college in 1996.
Applied: UT Austin (ED), Univ. of Houston, George Washington U & American U.
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SleepyGuyYawn

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #61 on: March 14, 2005, 05:30:33 PM »
I, for one, I think law schools use it to enhance the "diversity" of their incoming class. Perhaps if our government and society put more money into the earlier stages of education we wouldn't need to focus on the inadequacies of AA, but as it stands, it's probably the best option out there.

I don't really see how you connect better primary education with a result that would give a law school class more diversity.  Because although I admit that impoverished people tend not to have access to the same educational opportunities, I think this has much more to do with socio-economic status than it does race.  

As for diversity, I sort of disagree that there's something inherent in the experience of people with darker skin tones that gives them a different perspective -- at least different enough to justify the substantial difference that AA can make in admissions.  I can see how poverty would give someone a vastly different perspective.  Or I can even see how a student who grew up in an inner-city would give, for instance, Baylor a different voice.  But instead of just asking students to check a box marked "Latino/a" or "Black" and take that to mean they'll add diversity, why don't we actually ask the students what they'll bring?  

I think this is much different, by the way, than the reality just twenty or thirty years ago.  But times do change.  These days, being African American is not proof one one specific life experience, just as being white is hardly proof of a privelaged, powerful existance.  

I personally think that affirmative action is a band-aid.  We're fooling ourselves if we think it's a cure for the actual problems that affects so many urban, African-American communities.  And sometimes I think that it actually hurts -- hurts by becoming the sole focus of those who fight for the uplifting of African American communities.  

And perhaps this issue isn't terribly important -- but it does depend on your perspective.  If you happen to be a student going to Kent School of Law instead of Northwestern despite being more qualified than many of the students who were admitted, I'd say it's a rather big deal.

Last, it bothers me when such a discussion is characterized as just a bunch of white people bitching.  When I discuss the fact that I'll never be able to marry my partner if I end up with another guy (I'm BI), I'm not said to be just another gay person bitching.  And if a bunch of women were discussing the fact that their golf club wouldn't let them play on Saturdays (perhaps a minor issue in your opinion, but I used to work at a country club with such a policy), you would dismiss it as just more women bitching.  So why is it that when I complain now about a form of institutionalized discrimination, I'm just dismissed as just another white guy bitching about a minor issue?  

SleepyGuyYawn

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #62 on: March 14, 2005, 05:41:31 PM »
The pattern MC describes of race being linked to opportunity is very clear.  Of course there are always exceptions. But it is a clear pattern. So I go back to saying to whites who feel hurt by AA, you get some advantages for being white, and this may be the one disadvantage with any monetary consequence. Can you honestly say it didn't even out for you?

There is definately a correlation between being black and being poor and having less access to a great education.  But there is also a correlation between being having parents who didn't go to college and being poor and having less access to a great education.  So should we have a box to check on the application for that?  What about all the other things that correlate in such a way?

And here's the thing about "white privelage."  Everybody says I have it, but nobody actually outlines how being white functions to give me all these advantages I'm supposed to have in life.  People just say it's there.  And if anyone challanges such an idea, conventional wisdom says they'll be thought of as racially insensitive, if not racist. 

You say that AA has not consequences for me.  But the truth is that I'll never know.  I was deferred at four schools, three of which I'd love to go to.  If AA didn't exist, would I have been let in?  And would I have been offered a scholarship to some of the schools that I didn't get into?  The point is that I'll never know if AA hurt me.  But you can hardly claim that it didn't. 

risingMC

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #63 on: March 14, 2005, 05:54:05 PM »
I don't really see how you connect better primary education with a result that would give a law school class more diversity.  Because although I admit that impoverished people tend not to have access to the same educational opportunities, I think this has much more to do with socio-economic status than it does race. 


Perhaps ... but the vast majority of students in poor, under-funded schools are usually minorities. I could look up the numbers, but I imagine that close to 80% of the poorest schools are comprised of mostly minority students. Unfortunately, though, most of these kids aren't ever going to be in a position to benefit from AA; most of them, in fact, won't even be in a position to graduate. And, yes, perhaps it is primarily a soci-econ issue ... but when most of these poor students are minorities, I find it hard not to include the issue of race in said discussion.

As for diversity, I sort of disagree that there's something inherent in the experience of people with darker skin tones that gives them a different perspective -- at least different enough to justify the substantial difference that AA can make in admissions.

Fair enough, but the thing is ... this is how society defines "diversity." Whether you consider that wrong, or whether we minorities are uncomfortable with the idea of being pigeon-holed, are entirely different issues. This racial and ethnic diversity is simply what society values. But I have to disagree that it's a "substantial" difference. See my previous post.

I personally think that affirmative action is a band-aid.  We're fooling ourselves if we think it's a cure for the actual problems that affects so many urban, African-American communities.  And sometimes I think that it actually hurts -- hurts by becoming the sole focus of those who fight for the uplifting of African American communities.

Yup, I see your point. Society seems to think that blacks are making progress because they've managed to reach the presidential cabinet; and yet, the ghettos are still there and thriving.

And perhaps this issue isn't terribly important -- but it does depend on your perspective.  If you happen to be a student going to Kent School of Law instead of Northwestern despite being more qualified than many of the students who were admitted, I'd say it's a rather big deal.

Also agree ... but it's my observation that it's usually the kids who got into NYU complaining about a URM getting into Harvard, or something along those lines. Maybe our experiences differ.

Last, it bothers me when such a discussion is characterized as just a bunch of white people bitching ... So why is it that when I complain now about a form of institutionalized discrimination, I'm just dismissed as just another white guy bitching about a minor issue
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I hope this wasn't directed at me. The exact reason I responded was because I felt comfortable enough in that it wasn't simply complaining, but in truth an actual attempt at an educated conversation. Occasionally we get these, but they're hard to distinguish from the standard bitter fare.

faith2005

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #64 on: March 14, 2005, 05:56:49 PM »
I have alot to say, but I will try to make it quick, because I have to get off line. White privilege is a consequence of racially discriminatory practices that continue today. These privileges usually manifest themselves in socio-economic status, but not necessarily in yearly income etc. One of the examples given in books that I've read is the example of the GI bill. The GI bill provided educational stipends for many Americans, but disproportionately, African Americans were not able to take advantage of them, because of legal red tape surrounding exclusion from Universities etc. Federal loans at this time were also provided for homes/public housing. For most Caucasians, these loans went into home ownership programs/real estate. These benefits account for the increase in the size of the middle class. On the other hand, African Americans were largely given stipends to live in housing projects. For a large number, our grandparents grew up in the South (on sharecropping plantations where they were already in debt) and moved North and lived in these projects etc. This debt meant that some were able to buy homes/most were not. On the whole, in the U.S. wealth is built through real estate and most African Americans (even now) are being kept from building this asset. Today, these issues are perpetuated through depreciating home values nearly equal with the # or lack of whites in neighborhood, compounded by the lack of banks in inner-city neighborhoods generally. One article I read (I can post it later) showed that if wealth was the measure of educational achievements etc. as opposed to actual annual income, the educational achievement rates for blacks and whites would be relatively the same. Now, some might say that this is an argument for aa based on socio-economic status, but as I have shown, these policies that adversely affected socio-economic status were directly tied to race, not the other way around. One book that I recommend for those wanting to read more about white privilege from a critical race theory perspective is the possessive investment in whiteness. that book taught me alot.

LaneSwerver

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #65 on: March 14, 2005, 06:07:42 PM »
Wow. White privelege. I wonder where mine is? I wonder where it was when I was growing up in my house with no heat, no air conditioning, and an overabundance of roaches. I wonder where it was when I was critically ill as a child yet had no health insurance to pay for cancer treatment. I wonder where my white privelege was when my family was denied for food stamps and Medicaid because my mother made too much money ($1000/month). I wonder where my white privelege was when I worked my ass off to get into college only to be faced with paying for it myself by working full-time throughout. Hmmm... I wonder where it was when it came time to find a job. Why couldn't I just get on the White Phone and call up some White Friends that would get me into a job.

The argument here is not that injustice was done to black people in the past. You cite the GI Bill, public housing, bank loans, etc. Sure, that may have happened, but guess what? I didn't do it. My mom and dad didn't do it. I didn't persecute anyone. I went to the same sh*tty public school everyone else went to...strange how my white privelege couldn't get me into a nice private school. Keep on with the affirmative action, though. It actually helps me in the long run. When the underqualified are admitted to law school and graduate, I'll be up against them for jobs. And while I won't have a Harvard education, I guarantee that I can out-think and out-work anyone who got in on the "level playing field." Of course, when I do finish up and get that good job, it'll be because of my white privelege, but you know what? I'll take it.

That is all.

SleepyGuyYawn

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #66 on: March 14, 2005, 06:34:01 PM »
I see where LaneSwerver is coming from.  What you talk about, faith2005, happened in the past.  People claim that white privelage is something that affects our society today.  And I still haven't heard how that functions really. 

There is certainly privelage tied to money.  But I've never been fortunate enough to have friends with any money.

I'm just me -- just a guy who's struggling to make it like everyone else.  And this idea that somehow I have "white privelage" stumps me.  I've certainly never seen it. 

MC, I think that under-funded schools and impoverished people are much more visible in inner-cities, but I'm not sure I agree that the vast majority of under-funded schools are in inner-cities.  There are lots of places, from the Mississippi Delta to rural South Dakota to the panhandle of florida to the upper-penninsula of Michigan where huge numbers of impoverished white people live, and where their schools are under funded.

And the "white people bitching" stuff was more in response to what I commonly hear (what is used to shut down discussion on AA very often), and to what you said about it being such a "minor issue."  I didn't mean to have it sound so negative. 

angmill08

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #67 on: March 14, 2005, 07:07:10 PM »
In my house, we also battle bugs, drugs and other realities of life in a low income neighborhood. But I noticed that when my neighbors and I talk to police about the drug traffic, I feel like I get a positive response about 3/4 of the time. The neighbors I've talked to about this feel they get a much lower level of positive response. When I spoke to the city about installing new street lights on my street, they were in the next week. One neighbor has been asking the city to fix the ineffective storm drain in front of his house for 10 years. No action yet. There are many little things like this that I've noticed. Each one alone, I would chalk up to luck or coincidence. But overall, they look to me like a pattern that correlates to our race -- the neighbors are black, and I am white. I'm not trying to hold anyone back, and I'm glad the streetlights got put in and the police at least say they will address the drug traffic I complain about. But I feel a little cheap when I pat myself on the back for how well I work with the city and the police. Maybe I get more results than my neighbors, not because I work harder or am more passionate or articulate, but because officials are more receptive to an angry white lady rather than an angry black man? Since it's hard to make any objective study of this, it is hard to measure. (Although matched pairs experiments, which attempt to do just this, have shown racism, even today, in housing and hiring. Remember the study just a few years ago about job applicants with "African-American" first names getting less job interviews than those with "white" or "race neutral" names? If you're interested, "American Aparteid" also cites matched pairs housing experiments that show racial steering of blacks to majority black neighborhoods.)

Some of my more vocal neighbors are college educated (like me). Some earn more money than me, some less. It's complicated, I agree. Certaintly there is no white phone where you call to collect white privilege. It will not be delivered to you postage paid. But I believe it exists in a more subtle and hard to define way even today.
164/3.46 Undergrad GPA, graduated college in 1996.
Applied: UT Austin (ED), Univ. of Houston, George Washington U & American U.
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ryanjm

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #68 on: March 14, 2005, 07:25:54 PM »
Nice arguments by both sides.

Everyone here is pulling out stats and figures, but forgetting that everyone's individual situation is different, but AA doesn't take that into account. It says, "you're black, so here's +50 points to your application numbers". If you want to talk about hardship and how race has impacted your LSAT and your grades, talk about it in your personal statement. Let it be a discretionary thing for the adcoms to consider. It's hard to say that AA is making up for white privilege when you've got black kids who came from families just as privileged as the average white family, and they get a huge bonus on their application for being black. How many people from the ghetto are honestly applying to law school? And even if they are, are we saying that it is so important to add diversity to the class that we should allow people who are not even close to as competent as their classmates to join them?

The last racist laws were repealed 50+ years ago. Whatever stats and figures there might be about the middle class, and various advantages that whites had 50+ years ago do not speak to the fact that ANYONE can get a job, work hard, and move out of the ghetto if they want to and they put in the effort. There is no law saying they can't work 50+ hours a week to save enough to move out.

risingMC

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #69 on: March 14, 2005, 08:26:14 PM »
Honestly, you're going to be hard-pressed to find anyone, minority or otherwise, who agrees 100% with the way affirmative action programs are being run. Most people agree that socio-economic status (regardless of race) should be given more weight, for example. And I think almost anyone who has studied the history, the aims and the current status of such policies is going to agree that some changes certainly need to be made. But, for the timne being, this is the best that's out there.