Thanks, Dash -- this was actually a very reasonable, balanced, and thoughtful post.
1. for example: your teachers have biases from living in a racist and oppressive system, and think you're dumb, and therefore do not push you to achieve as they do other students. I am sure there are many many many other ways in which this could play out.
This is actually a potentially valid and reasonable example / possibility, which I have heard described elsewhere as the "quiet racism of diminished expectations." I suppose such policies could arguably justify some degree of extra consideration of minority applicants, at least in theory.
However, I'll note the following points:
1) not pushing minorities to achieve like other students sounds, to me, pretty similar to affirmative action itself. This is one of my specific problems with AA -- that it doesn't hold minority students to the same standards, and thus implies (even if unintentionally) that they are inherently incapable of meeting those standards;
2) Such lowered expectations can be overcome relatively easily by a concerned parent or motivated individual;
3) Many teachers, especially in minority public schools, are themselves minorities. (The same goes for cops, of course.)
2. Did I say that MJ has it worse than all whites? (Hint: no.) Did I say that MJ doesn't have it better than most whites? (Hint: no again.)
Cool, good man.
3. People who aren't visible URMs can still face the same kind of discrimination that their visibly-URM counterparts face, e.g. once someone finds out that they are of that group.
Possibly. However, I think we have to acknowledge that this type of discrimination is probably pretty subtle, and probably not exactly overwhelming, and almost certainly less than that experienced by obvious URM's.
This stuff is not that hard. No one is saying that all URMS are worse off than all non-URMs. What i think most proponents of race-based AA are saying is that pretty much all URMs, regardless of SES, face adversity on the basis of their race, and that that should be a consideration. No one is saying anything about poor white people, or, if they are, they're almost certainly saying that poor white folk should get a leg up too: SES diversity is also good for a class. I don't see why you can't have both programs in effect.
Okay, this is all reasonable, as noted. I would simply hope that those doing the weighing recognize that any adversity suffered by MJ (or Harold Ford) is relatively mild in comparison to that suffered by a poor minority, or even probably a poor white/asian. As long as the weighting is realistic and proportional, and not driven by simplistic notions of racial guilt, I don't have a problem with it.
But to me, this should really all be part of the same program, or if there are 2 programs, the first should be an accounting for educational opportunity, and the 2nd should be an evaluation of adversity generally. Moreover, the 2nd program should essentially be a soft factor (like WE, EC's, etc.) unless there is something particularly significant about the obstacles encountered (and overcome).