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Author Topic: No more AA at Michigan Law?  (Read 13491 times)

Lindbergh

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Re: No more AA at Michigan Law?
« Reply #100 on: August 28, 2007, 10:40:32 PM »
Better K-12 education would greatly improve the quality of minority students matriculating @ today's colleges and universities. But I've got to tell y'all about racism in private schools.

I first encountered racism as a teenager during the fall semester of my senior year at a private, Christian academy.  I hadn't take any honors courses, but I had performed extremely well as a junior, especially in Biology and Chemistry. In fact, I had helped several Honors Chemistry students with their homework even though I was enrolled in the regular Chemistry course. (They frequently asked why I didn't take the Honors Chemistry course).  Because of my ease with science courses and my stellar performance, I requested to enroll in the Honors Physics course, which led to a meeting with the vice-principal.  She told me she didn't think I could handle the Honors Physics course, because I had never taken an Honors class, and the Honors courses were much tougher than the regular courses.  In response I told her about my "unofficial" job as the Honors Chem tutor, but she acted like that meant nothing.  I also asked her if other students with no prior Honors coursework had ever enrolled in an Honors course.  As I expected, she revealed that some students had done so, but she emphasized that these were exceptional students. (Please note that the only non-A grade I'd received as a junior was in US History.)  At that point, I got indignant.  I wanted to ask if those "exceptional students" were white, but I decided to adopt a more diplomatic approach. (I didn't think showing out would do me much good since she was still the vice-principal.)  I prodded incessantly until she agreed to enroll me on a trial basis.  At the end of the semester I had the highest grade in Honors Physics, which meant that I could continue. End of story.

What's the point? I was old enough to discern her unspoken sentiment. Would she have reacted differently if I were white?  I'm not certain, but I'd bet you she would have.  Her polite condescension would have discouraged most other students, but my mama didn't no raise no fool!  I was determined to take Honors Physics, and would have gone to any length in order to enroll in the course.

I'm currently studying for Summer School finals, so I'm letting TJ and Piggy battle the AA-bashers for now. I need to keep a high GPA. After all, I don't want to piss off  my future presumptious law-school classmates who may think I got into a t14 law school with pathetic #s due to AA.

Cheers,


Your story is interesting, and highlights the major problem with AA:  it perpetuates the stereotype of minority inferiority. 

Obviously, it's troubling that your VP saw you as incapable, if she did so on the basis of your ethnicity.  However, this is the exact same worldview that calls for people to award preferences to privileged minorities.  After all, if they were truly (equally) capable, they wouldn't need such preferences once educational advantages were accounted for.  You certainly didn't.

I will also note, however, that even being kept out of the honors program would not have prevented your admission to a top university, and eventually a top grad program.  Finally, I will note that your persistence did ultimately allow you into the honors program, whatever the VP's skepticism. Ultimately this, like most things, comes down to the individual.

I've also experienced some patronizing attitudes in my life, despite clear objective indicators of superior ability.  Many of these attitudes were the direct result of AA. Some were probably just the result of pre-existing prejudice, but there's no question in my mind that AA reinforces and perpetuates those stereotypes. 

PNym

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Re: No more AA at Michigan Law?
« Reply #101 on: August 28, 2007, 11:45:05 PM »
If you don't believe that minorities face an unequal playing field, or that because of the color their skin, or being of a particular ethnicity or gender a minority faces quite a different set of circumstances, scrutiny, image, and self-identity, then no argument is going to matter to you.

I'm shorter than 6 feet tall. Do I have as good of a chance at playing in the NBA as someone who's 7 feet tall? No.

If I were female, would I have as good of a chance at playing in the NBA as a man? No.

If I were a Southerner, would I enjoy equal chances of joining the Mafia as a Sicilian from New York? No.

If I were an aboriginal inhabitant of the rain forest who had only a few years of formal schooling and could barely speak English, would I enjoy equal chances of obtaining a position as a United States ambassador as a WASP who had lived in the States his entire life, spoke perfect English, and had been educated at the finest educational institutions in the world? No.

The playing field has NEVER been equal for ANYONE. Attempting to make the playing field equal would require an act of God, not man. For a human institution to even attempt rectifying the differential distribution of opportunities, innate abilities, and honed skills that has resulted from innumerate historical events, both incidental and accidental, would require that institution to have an incredible amount of power. And for people to grant any institution such unconstrained power would pave the road to serfdom.

If you don't believe that systematic discrimination has affected the lives of millions through no fault of their own, and you want to keep pointing to isolated "yeah buts," then there is nothing more we can say.

Of course people discriminate against each other. Heck, Kobe Bryant's parents were estranged from him for years because he chose to marry a Hispanic. But this discrimination isn't "systemic," if "systemic" means as a result of an intentional, coordinated decision amongst numerous parties, of the sort seen in apartheid South Africa. Rather, discrimination of this sort is ad hoc.

However, AA *is* "systemic" discrimination. Trying to rectify largely invisible "ad hoc" discrimination with a very visible policy that institutionalizes "systemic" discrimination makes little sense, if you take into account that the extent to which "ad hoc" discrimination influences a decision, versus how much of a decision is influenced by other factors, and how much of it is morally repugnant enough to merit a change in policy, is totally unmeasureable.

Is ad hoc discrimination even morally repugnant? I'd argue that it largely depends on the area where the discrimination occurs. Clearly, ad hoc discrimination that prevents equal application of the law is repugnant, but such discrimination in areas such as choice of spouse (or, for that matter, choice of heir to the family business) may not be.

If you want to admit that there was systematic discrimination in the past, and that there is systematic discrimination currently, but argue that "two wrongs don't make a right" and wail that affirmative action is just "reverse discrimination," then you're misconstruing what affirmative action really is and what it is being used for, as well as ignoring the reality of the minority's current position in society (and the power dynamic therein).

I addressed this point in my response to your previous one.

Furthermore, I asked whether "two wrongs make a right" to put Funia in the quandry of having to defend something she admitted was morally wrong. I don't agree that in all cases, two wrongs necessarily makes a wrong (which is what you've implied), but in this case I certainly do think that applies. Regardless, my employment of that question is largely tangential to my more substantiative arguments, rather than the main crux, as you have repeatedly posited with your numerous straw-men claims.

Affirmative action is certainly not ideal, but as of right now it is necessary. Perhaps some of you have a better solution?

How about institutions not providing politically-enforced privileged lowering of standards for politically-favored groups, and instead investing, with the cooperation of the groups, in means for those groups to meet the normal standards? That would translate into providing better schooling opportunities for those who would be future URMs, so they could meet the normal institutional standards.

Such a policy would rob the AA industry of a clientele, but would improve the human capital of the URMs, and this improvement of capital, which would allow them to succeed on their own right, would allow other groups to esteem URMs as worthy of respect, not handouts. I think this is a worthy trade-off.

PNym

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Re: No more AA at Michigan Law?
« Reply #102 on: August 28, 2007, 11:55:29 PM »
I think once power and privilege is a bit more proportional, race perceptions should naturally ease and AA can be abandoned.

So, envy of the greater wealth and influence that people of a different skin color hold is what aggravates identity politicians, and to appease these envious people, we should redistribute wealth and influence?

Who should do the redistributing?

And should we appease the envious?

And are racial relations currently truly acrimonious, or is that assertion without evidence? As evidence to the contrary, I can offer my own undergraduate experience: of my 4 college roommates, two were black and one was Mexican, and I never encountered any examples of racial discord in all the time I spent with them.

sharky

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Re: No more AA at Michigan Law?
« Reply #103 on: August 29, 2007, 08:26:15 AM »
I'm not sure that I find the VP tale a particularly compelling justification for AA.  I had to fight my adminstrators to let me take honors courses, then AP courses, and then courses off-campus at the local community college all the way through school despite being clearly being one of the top students in my class.  I'm not a minority, so I imagine that it came down to the fact that I was fighting for myself when other people just had their important parents up there complaining.  I think everyone's run across an incompetent school administrator during their academic careers, and it's pretty conceivable that occasionally you'd run across a racist/paternalistic every once in awhile. 


PNym

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Re: No more AA at Michigan Law?
« Reply #104 on: August 29, 2007, 08:53:30 AM »
I'm shorter than 6". Do I have as good of a chance at playing in the NBA as someone who's 7"? No.

I'm not sure why six inches v. seven inches would have an effect on your chance at playing in the NBA.  :D

Oops, typo  :P

PNym

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Re: No more AA at Michigan Law?
« Reply #105 on: August 29, 2007, 09:10:13 AM »
At some point we should also talk about improving public schools.  :(


Of course -- better K-12 education would be far more helpful than band-aid preferences at the college and graduate school level.

However, this would not affect wealthier folks that much, who can presumably already afford private schools. 

Better K-12 education would greatly improve the quality of minority students matriculating @ today's colleges and universities. But I've got to tell y'all about racism in private schools.

I first encountered racism as a teenager during the fall semester of my senior year at a private, Christian academy.  I hadn't take any honors courses, but I had performed extremely well as a junior, especially in Biology and Chemistry. In fact, I had helped several Honors Chemistry students with their homework even though I was enrolled in the regular Chemistry course. (They frequently asked why I didn't take the Honors Chemistry course).  Because of my ease with science courses and my stellar performance, I requested to enroll in the Honors Physics course, which led to a meeting with the vice-principal.  She told me she didn't think I could handle the Honors Physics course, because I had never taken an Honors class, and the Honors courses were much tougher than the regular courses.  In response I told her about my "unofficial" job as the Honors Chem tutor, but she acted like that meant nothing.  I also asked her if other students with no prior Honors coursework had ever enrolled in an Honors course.  As I expected, she revealed that some students had done so, but she emphasized that these were exceptional students. (Please note that the only non-A grade I'd received as a junior was in US History.)  At that point, I got indignant.  I wanted to ask if those "exceptional students" were white, but I decided to adopt a more diplomatic approach. (I didn't think showing out would do me much good since she was still the vice-principal.)  I prodded incessantly until she agreed to enroll me on a trial basis.  At the end of the semester I had the highest grade in Honors Physics, which meant that I could continue. End of story.

What's the point? I was old enough to discern her unspoken sentiment. Would she have reacted differently if I were white?  I'm not certain, but I'd bet you she would have.  Her polite condescension would have discouraged most other students, but my mama didn't no raise no fool!  I was determined to take Honors Physics, and would have gone to any length in order to enroll in the course.

I'm currently studying for Summer School finals, so I'm letting TJ and Piggy battle the AA-bashers for now. I need to keep a high GPA. After all, I don't want to piss off  my future presumptious law-school classmates who may think I got into a t14 law school with pathetic #s due to AA.

Cheers,

What happened was a real shame. I'm glad you did well in the end, though, despite your principal's interference.

I definitely understand that these types of circumstances would lead someone to support AA in an effort to make up for opportunities lost due to such people. I don't think AA is wise, but that doesn't mean I condone the lack of judgment shone by your vice principal (especially considering your academic record).

OperaAttorney

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Re: No more AA at Michigan Law?
« Reply #106 on: August 29, 2007, 11:24:05 AM »
I'm not sure that I find the VP tale a particularly compelling justification for AA.  I had to fight my adminstrators to let me take honors courses, then AP courses, and then courses off-campus at the local community college all the way through school despite being clearly being one of the top students in my class.  I'm not a minority, so I imagine that it came down to the fact that I was fighting for myself when other people just had their important parents up there complaining.  I think everyone's run across an incompetent school administrator during their academic careers, and it's pretty conceivable that occasionally you'd run across a racist/paternalistic every once in awhile. 



I just chose to share my story. I didn't offer it in justification of AA.

I'm not surprised at your response though LOL :).
"I don't believe in the word 'impossible,' because the One in whom I believe can do the impossible." - Me

Lindbergh

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Re: No more AA at Michigan Law?
« Reply #107 on: August 29, 2007, 12:49:50 PM »
I'm shorter than 6". Do I have as good of a chance at playing in the NBA as someone who's 7"? No.

I'm not sure why six inches v. seven inches would have an effect on your chance at playing in the NBA.  :D


True, but I think we can agree that you won't be playing in the NBA if you're 6" tall.

Lindbergh

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Re: No more AA at Michigan Law?
« Reply #108 on: August 29, 2007, 12:51:36 PM »
I'm not sure that I find the VP tale a particularly compelling justification for AA.  I had to fight my adminstrators to let me take honors courses, then AP courses, and then courses off-campus at the local community college all the way through school despite being clearly being one of the top students in my class.  I'm not a minority, so I imagine that it came down to the fact that I was fighting for myself when other people just had their important parents up there complaining.  I think everyone's run across an incompetent school administrator during their academic careers, and it's pretty conceivable that occasionally you'd run across a racist/paternalistic every once in awhile. 



I just chose to share my story. I didn't offer it in justification of AA.

I'm not surprised at your response though LOL :).

You agree that administrators are generally stupid?

UNAS

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Re: No more AA at Michigan Law?
« Reply #109 on: August 29, 2007, 01:05:23 PM »
The largest issue I have with this debate is the fact that those individuals opposing affirmative action are trumping up the consequences/adverse effects of it. Though discrimination is very difficult to prove, because of the systemic controls in place to prevent such detection, it still can be unveiled (pardon my sentence structure). Perhaps republicans taking a stand against corporate lobbyist for less transparency in employer/employee relations would make evidence of discrimination available for public consumptioin. Nonetheless, at the end of the day the powers that be can always vet the compensation of a Black man, White man, White woman with similar academic and job related experience. These negligible adverse consequences you all continue mention are just that, negligible. Furthermore, instances where privileged minorities are, as you all seem to think, taking advantage of the system are few and far between.
Secondly, quotas particularly regarding employment were put in place because qualified minority candidates were often overlooked for their less qualified White counterparts. Instances of discrimination like this ran rampant, which if I am not mistaken was the root cause for AA coming in to being.