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MLK on affirmative action(25 posts)

MLK on affirmative actionczardonic
Jan 22, 2003 6:08 PM
http://www.alternet.org/print.html?StoryID=14984
not very clear, but here's what I thinkDougSloan
Jan 23, 2003 7:11 AM
It appears that here, as in most instances of doing this, getting into the mind of a dead person (or an alive one for that matter) is often nothing but pure speculation, overlaying our own beliefs and attributing to them what we would like them to have said. While MLK does appear to have called for race neutral treatment in several respects, I wouldn't have much doubt that had he lived he would certainly have been on the affirmative action bandwagon, which was barely in its infancy at the time.

One of the real consequences of affirmative action, it appears, it to actually foster and perputuate some racial animosity. It makes those who lost out due to the AA feel like they got screwed. Right or wrong, it's very clear that those feelings exist. This, in both some sub-conscious and and public ways, serves to engender continued friction between races. That's not good.

Nonetheless, here is what I would do, particularly with respect to university admissions. First, I'd offer free college tuition and books to any underrepresented minority student at a state college who does not have the means to pay for it. You're in; it's free.

Second, at the more prestigious public schools, I'd implement AA that works like this. First, you have minimum criteria for anyone. You need some sort of bottom line qualification academically. Then, you sort all the qualified applicants in the 5 percentile ranges; within each range, you are permitted to favor underrepresented minorities over others. Therefore, a 96th percentile white still gets in over a 91st percentile black, but the 91st percentile black gets in over a 94th percentile white; and on down the ranges until the classes fill. That sounds fair to me.

Doug
For once, I think we agree.OldEdScott
Jan 23, 2003 8:26 AM
Affirmative action, while probably well intended, is basically a velvet-glove extension of 'white man's burden' oppression. As you say, it fosters resentment and division while doing nothing at all to attack the roots of the problem. It's paternalistic and obnoxious and if I were black I'd have none of it.

If you're going to have AA, though, I think your suggestion -- blacks get preference if the choice is between roughly equal candidates -- is at least defensible.

No one can know what MLK would say on this, but my feeling is, he would see that AA leads nowhere but to continued second-class citizenship.
For once, I think we agree.Funston
Jan 23, 2003 9:18 AM
Sometimes I wonder if we really know what the hell the problem is behind inequities within our society. That hispanics and asians find success, while blacks continue to lag behind, suggests the problem is something other than racial. When comparing each of these groups, it appears that success is directly related to the group's cultural strength.

If the problem is cultural, or more specifically, lack of a strongly knit cultural base from which to elevate oneself, then we as a society ought to address the problem as it is. Instead, we tend to react to the symptoms with punative measures, while we perpetuate the stigma of racial inferiority with crudely conceived band-aids that serve to soften our guilt.

As long as we close down schools due to lack of funds while, at the same time, we plan and build new prisons, the solutions will remain far away.
Short article in Dailynews by Stanley Crouch on this today128
Jan 23, 2003 9:26 AM
Thought it was good. He gets waay more critical of the depreciation of intellectual/educational pursuits by some in the 'Black community' (education is a sellout to "the man")especially the gansta-hip rap crowd....Anyway, Crouch is a dude, fer sher.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/col/scrouch/
Yeah, on one of the news shows...Wayne
Jan 23, 2003 8:42 AM
there was a guy quoting from an MLK speech (or book?) that made it seem pretty unambiguous that he would have been opposed to affirmative action. While the black "representative" was arguing he would have been for it. I couldn't figure out why it would matter where he stood on the issue.

Then I saw that dumbass Jesse Jackson on CNN. He was arguing that the reason so many minorities are in pro sports is because the criteria by which "good" is measured are objective. And by extension the criteria by which college admissions are decided are not objective thereby keeping minorities out.
I think if anyone thinks about this a little bit you will see that's not true for baseball, basketball, or football (which are really what he's referring to). There's alot of leeway in determining who's good enough to make the team and who's not.
On the other hand usually college admissions are quite objective at least in regards to the minimum standards (such as a 1200 on the SATs or GREs or MCATs, certain GPA, whatever). In fact, the reason affirmative action has to be explicitly implimented is often colleges don't get enough minorities who meet the minimum requirements. They'd love to let the qualified in, they just can't get the numbers, so for certain groups they change the requirements.

The real disadvantage in America is being poor. Being poor doesn't equal being a minority. Why should a black kid who grew up in Beverly Hills get into Berkely over some Vietamese kid who came over on a refugee boat and has been dirt poor his whole life (at one point Berkely had it's standards set such that the Asian/White/Black SAT requirements were something like 1200/1000/800, not sure if that's still true). As in almost all social phenomenom in America if you control for socioeconomic status, race plays little or at least a significantly less role than the media or political action groups would have you believe.
Stat.s show mostly middle/upper "class" minorities benefit most128
Jan 23, 2003 9:18 AM
from AA. So those least in need benefit most. Not sure how that helps. Have to aggree with Scott, Sloan (as I was just coming to a very similar conclusion recently which, weirdly, is just overlooked in the debate), and especially Wayne's socioeconomic pov, that, imo, is where the action *should* be. And, ftr -for the record- I strongly support public ed.

-TK
Interesting responsese here, but isn't it way too soon. . .czardonic
Jan 23, 2003 12:27 PM
. . .to pretend that racism or its legacy are a thing of the past? State sponsored white supremacy is still a matter of living memory, and there are conceivably people applying to graduate schools or to white collar or management positions today whose own parents grew up with no hope of acheiving either. Is it any wonder that they value of scholarship and realization of personal potential are under-developed among Blacks, when a generation ago many were raised with no expectation of either?

I agree that affirmative action is unfair on its face. But so are the alternatives. The notion of class or wealth based admissions seems fair, but offers no guaruntee that Blacks won't be excluded from jobs or educational institutions, as they have been for hundreds of years. In fact, the assumption that wealth based affirmative action will ensure opportunities for all is itself based on the assumption that racial predjudice does not exist. I beleive the latter is wishful thinking, and thus the former is moot.

It seems to me, that the notion that racism is a thing of the past is near uniformly scoffed at by non-whites. It also seems that those minority members that profess belief that we are a now color blind society are typically the same middle class benefactors of affirmative action in the first place. In short, it is a belief held by those who's selfish interests are best served by cutting off affirmative action to others.

To be fair, tribalism is rampant among all racial and ethnic groups. It is a fact of human nature that it would be foolish to ignore. Egalitarian meritocracy is not something that we can ever expect to flourish without proactive measures to ensure it.
proactive measures to ensure it?DougSloan
Jan 23, 2003 1:21 PM
So what do we do? Force minority high school drop outs to attend MIT? Some of the prestigious schools are already begging for underrepresented (black) students. They have to actively recruit minorities just to attempt racial parity, regardless of academic qualifications.

As someone pointed out, AA is more of a band-aid than a cure. The root of the problem, or at least closer to the root, is that far too few black kids are staying in, much less doing well in school, and are anywhere close to being able to survive in college.

I have worked with minority inner city kids in juvenile matters. You'd be shocked to know how uncool doing well in school is. The last thing you want to be in many neighborhoods is the "brainiac" or a "goody-two-shoes". You might get beaten up just for being seen carrying books home from school. Even the parents, assuming they are around, of these kids actively discourage academic acheivement. They poke fun at the smart kids. Given that environment, and of course it's not universal, what the heck are we to do?

Doug
A sign of the timesmoneyman
Jan 23, 2003 1:54 PM
Heroes are 17 year old basketball players, not Rhodes scholars. My sister teaches in a school that is predominantly African-American, and the thinking goes something like this: "Why should I study? I'm going to play in the NBA." It would be comical if it weren't so tragic.

Its not universal, but it is pervasive.

Funny. Bunch of white guys wasting time on the internet figuring out how to fix the problems of black people.

$$
You're assuming we are all white.czardonic
Jan 23, 2003 1:58 PM
So far, I'd bet that black people are over represented in this thread.

Anyway, for a good long time being a sports star was the only path to success for blacks. It is tragic, but I wouldn't be so quick to laugh at their pragmatism.
I thought about thatmoneyman
Jan 23, 2003 2:20 PM
before I posted. But I have seen informal polls on this website asking for people of color to show their hands, and the color is decidedly NOT black. I know that Doug Sloan is white, as I have seen his picture. I know that I am as well, as I have seen my picture, too. You, I have no idea.

You are so wrong about sports being or having been the only path to success. I think that Thurgood Marshall (Law), Clarence Thomas (Law), Carol Mosely Braun (Politics), Bill Cosby (Entertainment), Martin Luther King (Religion), Colin Powell (Military/Politics), Condoleeza Rice (Academics/Politics) and scores of other non-athletes might argue that point. Try this site for further proof: http://www.uga.edu/~iaas/History.html

Hope is where you find it.

$$
Point taken. Nevertheless. . .czardonic
Jan 23, 2003 2:47 PM
. . .either you are discounting the phenomenal personal acheivements of these famous people, or you are holding black kids to a preposterously high standard.

I suppose you noticed that a few of the examples you gave are supporters of affirmative action
Neithermoneyman
Jan 23, 2003 3:07 PM
No discounts, no preposterously high standard. You wrote: "for a good long time being a sports star was the only path to success for blacks." The people I mentioned were not sports stars.

I have not stated my opinion on affirmative action. Jumping to conclusions can cause serious injury. Please be careful so you don't hurt yourself.

$$
Gimme a break.czardonic
Jan 23, 2003 3:11 PM
What percentage of Black millionaires do you suppose made their money outside of sports or other entertainment fields? (If you think that I am unfairly changing the terms, then exclude non-sports related entertainment.) I guess I should have said "widely accessible path to success".

So what is your opinion?
Hold on there, bustermoneyman
Jan 23, 2003 3:25 PM
Don't change the rules in the middle of the game.

For your benefit, you wrote:"Anyway, for a good long time being a sports star was the only path to success for blacks."

I responded by giving examples of African-Americans who would be considered successes. Then you just defined success as being a millionaire. Nowhere did I mention net worth as being a definition of success. I have no idea of the net worth of the people mentioned, nor does it matter. Their success transcends their income.

My opinion? Lance will win his 5th Tour de France going away.

$$
Why not just say so. . .czardonic
Jan 23, 2003 3:31 PM
. . .if your only interested in dodging issues and splitting semantic hairs?
For starters, leave the stawmen out of it.czardonic
Jan 23, 2003 1:56 PM
"Force minority high school drop outs to attend MIT?" Who's suggesting that? What should I deduce from your insistance on characterizing affirmative action with these ludicrous caricatures? Are you blind to the realistic and practical manifestations of affirmative action, or simply too threatened to countenance them?

Aversion to education is a problem, but it is not the root of the problem. Rather, it is the closest thing to the root that people such as yourself can lay entirely at the feet of Blacks themselves. They don't respect or value education, beggining of problem, but end of story for you. It's a self-serving distinction, the perniciousness of which proves that racism (even if unintended) has not breathed its last breath.

Attitudes among Blacks have their own roots. How can one expect a parent to nuture an appreciation of education in their children when they may have reasonably expected to be discriminated against regardless of their own educational endeavors, and their parents may have been denied education altogether? It is going to take either time of a concious effort to normalize attitudes among communities and families who have previously had no reason to assume that hard work would pay off for them.

I suppose that you would prefer the time option. I'd prefer the effort. Even if affirmative action is a band-aid rather than a cure, at least it is some protection for the wound of racism from the infection of enduring inequality. Ripping it off and hoping the exposed wound will heal itself isn't a cure either.

In terms of practical measures, I think systems such as California's State University system are reasonable. The top percent of every public school are eligible for acceptance. This way, students are judged by what they do with the opportunities they are given.
you're so bent on opposing me you don't see I'm trying to helpDougSloan
Jan 23, 2003 2:05 PM
Funny, you're sort of the master of straw men around here.

I'd really like to help. My point is that from first hand observation I see some problems, but can't see any way to get around them. This isn't white supremacy generalization -- this is black teenagers telling me this directly.

I'm not trying to lay anything at their feet (you just love to dig like that, with all the hyperbole and exaggeration), I'm desribing a problem. Don't deny the problem exists. I have no idea how to "normalize attitudes among communities." Sounds like ivory tower BS to me. They don't want their attitudes normalized. In fact, they damn well like the attitudes they have now.

You could try to be more constructive and at least attempt to recognize a sincere effort to right some wrongs. You might read my other posts on this, too.

Doug
I know you are trying. But considering. . .czardonic
Jan 23, 2003 2:38 PM
. . .your attitude its not a suprise that you can't see any way to do it. (I'm only juding based on what you've posted here, as I have come to learn that it is considered a dirty trick to bring up people's past posts.) Give me an example of a constructive effort. I'd be glad to hear it.

I don't deny the problem exists. I do reject the notion that "blacks simply don't value education, and that's the way it is and they like it that way," which is what your attitude here sounds like to me.

This attitude is hardly exclusive to blacks, or even to the poor. The President himself loafed his way through life and did quite well for himself. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that hard work and success do not enjoy the correlative relationship that many in this country would like to believe. Perhaps the key to convincing people that hard work is the key to success is to better ensure that this is actually true? Due to factors that include persistant discrimination against black people who do transcend the attitudes of the old neighborhood, there is little in the way of evidence that a black kid who devotes himself to education will not nonetheless spend the rest of his life struggling to keep his head above water in a system that is stacked against him.

People in this country, and Black people in particular have good reason to be cynical. It doesn't help that these same kids are watching their own President, who was handed everything in life presumably at the expense of some harder working and better qualified but less connected applicant, tell them that personal accomplishment is the only fair basis for preference. I'm not trying to blame Bush, but he is an example of the far more damaging ways in which our system is skewed that aren't being appealed to the Supreme Court.
loafed his way through lifemoneyman
Jan 23, 2003 3:15 PM
Yep, they give those Harvard MBAs to just anyone. Not worth the paper they are written on.

$$
I hate to break it to you. . .czardonic
Jan 23, 2003 3:33 PM
. . .but they do give them to anyone who can pull the right strings. I hope you aren't too drastically disillusioned.
Hate to quote the NYTimes,but there are some relevant facts here128
Jan 24, 2003 6:39 AM
on your topic. Ftr, I don't care for the editorial's inferred conclusion. But it does make a good point about AA in athletics, wealth etc. and Boy George's acedemic record... Yet the article fails to distinguish race from other forms of AA, which of course is different: it's illegal. Unless it isn't.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/24/opinion/24KRIS.html
I could fix the problem, or at least tell you what needs...Wayne
Jan 24, 2003 5:59 AM
to be done! Kids with poor home environments or at least ones that don't stress education will always, in general, end up performing worse in school than kids who come from good homes who stress education.
How can throwing money at the problem fix this? It needs to be a change in attitude, and when was the last time you saw a minority leader on TV saying the problem is the parents, not the government, not racism, not a lack of money?
And how does letting under qualified kids into Universities fix this? I mean if you want to go to college there is one for everybody, but that doesn't mean you should get into Harvard because of the color of your skin.

I would think the most effective solution would be some kind of campaign to instill in minorities the importance of education for success today. And we clearly have examples, in many Asian immigrants, that a stress on education works for achieving affluence. Why don't certain communities get this is the real question?
that's a racist positionDougSloan
Jan 24, 2003 7:05 AM
The message that needs to be sent, as you mention, is seen as racist. To suggest that the minorities need to change themselves, rather than throw money at the problem or provide racial preferences is just plain un-PC. Until monority leaders, as you suggest, get vocal about people and families changing, not much progress will be made. I know some are doing this, but when you have others going around shouting about "white oppression" it likely makes some feel justified to keep doing exactly what they are doing, and resenting "the man", and expecting restitution for slavery to make things better.

The bottom line is that I think much of the change must begin within these communities. It can't be handed to them nor forced on them. Heck, I think it would be better to hire Jesse Jackson at a million dollars a year to make speeches to that effect, versus five thousand dollars spent on one scholarship. I'd freely contribute to it.

Doug