Friday, June 30, 2023

Well, Not Bad…

 Raises one question:

Yet I also believe that affirmative action — though necessary — has inadvertently helped create a warped and race-obsessed American university culture. Before students ever step foot on a rolling green, they are encouraged to see racial identity as the most salient aspect of their personhood, inextricable from their value and merit.
When, pray tell, was any aspect of American life not race-obsessed?

American universities were once gender obsessed, by this argument. Harvard was for men, Radcliffe for women. The church I pastored as a seminary student could recall when men sat on side of the church (the pulpit side) and women and children on the other. Blacks were not citizens but apportioned as 3/5ths of a person until the 13th Amendment. But no Constitutional Amendment banned segregation laws, and those laws only finally started to fall in 1964. 59 years ago, if you’re counting.

“Race obsessed” didn’t start in the 1970’s. Don’t pretend it did, or that it can be discarded by judicial, or op-ed, fiat.
Many prestigious institutions have themselves racially gamified the admissions process, finding ways to maximize diversity without making dents in their endowments. For example, some colleges and universities boost diversity statistics on the cheap by accepting minority students who can pay full freight. And even purportedly need-blind institutions seem to have a remarkable track record of recruiting minority students who don’t need financial aid. (By some estimates, over 70 percent of Harvard’s Black, Latino and Native American students have college-educated parents with incomes above the national median.)
What, exactly, is the point here? Harvard has a notoriously rigorous curriculum. Students from families with no college background would probably find it overwhelming. And the assumption that every student in America needs to at least be able to get into Harvard is dubious at best. Considering the caliber of who the Ivies produce (Cruz and DeSantis spring to mind), I’m having trouble seeing the absolute advantage of them. But Harvard wants its students to succeed, as any good school does (what’s the point in flunking everyone out? You can’t really sustain an educational program like that for long.). It makes sense to bring in students who have the ability to succeed. Why admit students who don’t have the support system, especially far from home?

Granted, she gets there in the end:
Remember that racial gamification is just that: a game. Ignore anyone who would have you believe that attending Ivy League universities — with their endowments as large as a reasonably sized country’s nominal G.D.P. — is the only path to happiness or success or racial equality. Civil rights leaders did not endure the dogs and the cold baptism of the fire hoses in the hopes that one day their children’s children could become Ivy-minted venture capitalists and management consultants. Remember that Martin Luther King Jr. did not dream of a multiracial oligarchy and that the “vaults of opportunity” of which he spoke are not hidden only behind a golden door at Yale University. There are other paths in life that do not require gaming anything. Remember that hope is wherever you find yourself.
But I’m not sure the starting point is forgiven by the beginning. If I was grading this as an essay in Freshman Comp, I’d have serious problems with the structure. If I didn’t know these quotes all came from the same essay, I’d say the they were from different people. And yet two different twitter accounts (at least) retweeted this approvingly.

Perhaps this is just an example of how complicated this matter is, and how much of it falls outside the scope of an op-ed, or a Twitter thread, or… a blog post.

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