Sunday, March 28, 2010

Musings on affirmative action

When is an excuse and excuse?

Excuse #1: Affirmative action is needed to add diversity at our major (read white) universities

Really? The NCAA imposed the opposite of affirmative action on its schools and what happened? Did we get less diverse athletic teams? When the NCAA imposed minimum ACT/SAT scores for eligibility for Division I scholarships, black leaders protested. John Thompson, then coach at Georgetown, threatened a boycott. The contention was that the NCAA actions were anti-black and that kids who traditionally found big-time athletics a road out of the ghetto would not be admitted to colleges. We were also told that big-time basketball and football would suffer, being forced to rely on white boys who could not run fast, jump high, and do whatever it was that black boys excelled. Well we are ten years into those standards and along the way the NCAA also imposed minimum standards on the high school core that the athletes had to take and pass. Again, the black folks protested vehemently. Now not only did kids have to “pass” the ACT/SAT they also had to take prescribed courses in math, science and language. We were told that inner city schools did not offer these courses. Joining the black gnashers of teeth were the whites who said that that obviously the NCAA wanted college athletics to be the province of the white elite.

So what happened? Kids that wanted to play big time sports upgraded their curriculums actually studied, passed the courses, prepped for the ACT/SAT and “passed” them. College basketball is still basically the province of black urban kids. College football is still mostly black as well. If there is a diminution in quality it is because kids go early into the pros.

Excuse #2: Black students’ culture dumbs them down

A Berkeley professor once wrote that black high school kids fail to achieve because they are derided as “acting white.” If that is true then why aren’t the athletes prepping for the ACT so they can get a scholarship to college aren’t said to be “acting white”? Kids are using that as an excuse not to study. So be it, those kids are not destined in the first place to be our future leaders. All kids are subject to peer pressure: to do drugs, to do sex, to do alcohol, to do crime. Today’s culture glorifies all of this. This may be the first generation that takes as its role models, those from lower socio-economic status. It is the prison culture – tattoos, baggy pants that hang at the butt (prisoners are not allowed belts), foul language, fouler music, and general thuggery. The girls have the cheap streetwalker influence with the low jeans, short tops, assorted piercings and tattoos in the small of their backs. I call it the vulgar generation.

So what? Each generation is blessed with its losers. And we seem to be letting this generation’s get all the headlines. Let them fail. The ones that resist will achieve despite the pressures and that will make them great. There are plenty of those. They will overcome all the poverty pimps who want to blame whitey.

One of the reasons I joined Bob Woodson’s board at the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise is that Bob is a no excuses person. He believes that we are responsible for our own actions. Black crime, illegitimacy, poverty (mainly single women head of households) are caused by us, fostered by us, excused by us, and must be addressed and fixed by us. There is considerable evidence that the War on Poverty made us worse off. Economics says that if you provide disincentives, then people will take advantage of it. It gave rise to the poverty industry that is motivated to keep the poor poor. I am embarrassed by today’s black leaders. I only hear complaints. I only hear “throw more money at it (and at me).” I have never heard one of them offer up a tangible concrete solution to address the problems. I lost all respect for Jesse Jackson who while lambasting school vouchers (because he is in bed with the teachers unions) sent his children to St. Catherines and St. Albans in DC – private schools with ivy-league tuitions. Why didn’t he send his kids to the DC public schools? Yet instead of excoriating him, the liberals gave him a pass. I lost all respect for the NAACP when they named Kweisi Mfume as president. Its ok for him to be an elected official with his multitude of bastard children, but to represent the oldest black civil rights institution is an embarrassment. At least these so-called leaders are representing an ever decreasing and more isolated number of people. Blacks are becoming marginalized and soon will be just like Native Americans on their subsidized reservations.

I am still waiting for the first idea to come from the left as to how to improve the education of black kids. Rather they do nothing but make excuses. Isn’t it interesting that the ideas come from conservatives who are then skewered by the liberals – who only react and do not initiate.

OK back to the NCAA. What would happen if affirmative action disappeared tomorrow at the nation’s colleges? Would we be worse off? Or would the achievers be motivated to achieve? I have had black students that I have chastised for their lack of performance say “it doesn’t matter – I’ll still get into (medical school, law school, fill in the blank) because I am black.” Would they say this if there were no affirmative action? That’s an empirical question.

Excuse #3: Affirmative action results in black students having an inferiority complex

This is nonsense. Affirmative action may get the students admitted but it is not how they stay there. What should be done at the undergraduate level? Admissions is at best an inexact art. What criteria should be used for admission? Obvious a private college is a different case than a state one. A state university has an obligation to the residents of the state. How do you define that obligation? Should it reject white citizens in favor of black ones? If you say yes, then to what extent? Should it have a student population that mirrors the state’s racial composition? Or should it mirror the racial composition of students who graduate from its high schools? I have actually heard this point argued seriously. Admissions based on ability is somehow racist. Thus, they argue for affirmative action. I then say ”should the university recruit athletes from out of state – regardless of color – to the exclusion of athletes within state? Should the athletic programs reflect the racial composition of the state as well?” If you advocate that one, then the race pimps would scream discrimination because in the case of athletics having teams that are based on ability and disproportionately black is somehow acceptable.

My solution would be open admissions to all state high school graduates. The university would not have to lower its standards. The freshman year would be one of weeding out. All students would take language, history, math and science. Those that can’t deal with the tough curriculum, or the large classes, or the impersonal treatment will leave. They may end up at JUCOs or lesser universities or they may not. But that’s life. We should have no obligation to assure their success. That is their responsibility.

As it stands now affirmative action is the continuing manifestation of the marginalization of black (native) Americans. It’s not just our becoming the second largest minority. But it’s the reaction of our so-called leaders who fear the loss of power and the loss of government handouts. I am embarrassed that our leaders want our people to continue to be wards of the state. Our undergraduates add to the marginalization with their black dorms, black graduations with their kinte cloths, black proms, et al. Don’t misunderstand: cultural awareness is good. All cultures should be included in mainstream learning but not separated from it. I remember asking my Mom why we had a black history week (in those days) and she said “its because every week is white history week”. However, my beef with history has always been that it is wrong. I had problems with its content in high school and especially in college where I challenged by economic history prof and got a “C” for my insubordination. The history I have read is written by socialists, leftists, are apologists for the failures of the left and hate capitalism and its successes. There is a reason why most blacks in this country are not poor and are educated. It is because of capitalism and the unique freedoms of this country.

We are somehow under the incorrect impression that diversity makes this country great. That is garbage. This country is great because of freedom and capitalism. Did you ever wonder why white men willingly gave up power (to blacks and to women)? Its because the Constitution made them do it. Freedom. Why have blacks achieved in this country? Capitalism. Someone said that socialism has been discredited everywhere in the world except on university campuses. However, this is a truly rare country where we, the descendants of slaves, can teach the descendants of the masters.

Consider this: why are we not Bosnia or Northern Ireland or Lebanon or Nigeria? Why is it that people who openly kill each other elsewhere in the world are in this country coexisting peacefully? I remember when the (white southern male) courts forced the (white southern male dominated) University of Georgia to admit its first blacks, there was a riot and the University expelled the blacks for “their own safety.” The courts immediately ordered their reinstatement. The governor (white southern male) called out the national guard (white southern male) and there were stories that some of the rednecks who were rioting the day before put on their uniforms and enforced the peace the following day: “Don’t come across that line baby brother or I’ll be forced to hit you upside your head with this billy stick.” Only in America. Again. It’s the Constitution and the respect for the law – even by rednecks. I actually felt sorry for Jim Meredith who was admitted to Ole Miss the same quarter I was admitted to Georgia. He had to have two state troopers assigned to be with him at all times on campus. I have always wondered if they graduated too.

However, ultimately all this stuff doesn’t really matter. Achievers will still achieve. The great unwashed will remain unwashed. Pimps will still pimp. The minority of the minority will still be put forth as the norm, despite all the statistics to the contrary. Nonetheless, we should never let the poverty/race industry dominate the conversation. We know the truth and to continue to let the exception get promulgated as the rule does us all a disservice.

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