Woke Shall Overcome!

In a July 31 OpEd in the Los Angeles Times, Micah Ali, the president of the Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees, writes that “the upheaval of 2020” — the post Floyd protests and riots — has provided a unique opportunity “to begin righting historic injustices. 

One of the best examples of ”systemic racism,” in his view, is “the monstrous, opportunity-crushing Proposition 209.” Left unsaid was how its prohibition of discrimination or preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity somehow “erected barriers between people of color and the great California dream.”

Never mind. By now it is no surprise when people who claim to believe in civil rights actually support rather than oppose distributing benefits and burdens based on race. What is more interesting are some of Ali’s specific recommendations to the state’s university and college system, such as eliminating not only required standardized tests but even the consideration of test results when students choose to take them.

I was particularly struck and then intrigued by his urging colleges and universities to “emphasize overcoming hardships.” He notes that “one of the 14 factors the UC system considers in the admissions selection process is the life experiences and special circumstances that have affected a candidate’s academic accomplishments,” which can include such factors as “disabilities, low family income, the need to work while attending school, disadvantaged social or educational environments, difficult personal and family situations or circumstances.”

Intrigued, because I wonder how long it will be — if, indeed, it has not already happened — before an enterprising white applicant (who better take care not to identify his race/ethnicity as White) tries to take advantage of the “overcoming hardship” factor to gain admission.

One version might go something like this:

Through no fault of my own, I was born white. I was brought up in an affluent two-parent household in an affluent largely white suburb, where I attended excellent but largely white elementary and middle schools but then was sent to a largely white private prep school where most of the students (even most of the students of color) came from families that were much more than affluent. I, in short, am a poster child of white privilege.

That privilege has imposed a crushing burden that I have been struggling to overcome, with only limited success so far. Nevertheless, I am guardedly optimistic. With the invaluable assistance of such searing analyses of my plight as Robin Diangelo’s White Fragility and Ibram X. Kendi’s How To Be An Antiracist and the daily, or nightly, lessons being taught as I write on the streets of Portland, Seattle, and elsewhere, I don’t believe it reflects white hubris — perhaps I should say, not only white hubris — for me to say that I believe I have made progress overcoming the hardships and  blinders imposed by my overly advantaged social and educational environments. 

I would very much like to continue down that road at ________ University, whose reputation for its vigorous commitment to anti-racism promises to provide precisely the sort of environment that can help me on my continuing journey of self-criticism and to which I believe I, as a wakening refugee from white privilege, can also make a contribution.

For a small fee I would be happy to grant reproduction privilege to any applicant who would like to use this.

“Diversity” At Dillard University?

The Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article yesterday on “What Equity and Student Support Mean at Institutions That Have Been at It For Generations.” It was a moderated roundtable discussion with presidents “who hailed from historically black institutions, a tribal college, and community colleges serving Hispanic and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students.”

I found the remarks of Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough particularly interesting. Under the category of “Taking A Stand Against Racism,” President Kimbrough approvingly quoted students who are

saying, Man, I’m pent up with all the stuff that’s going on, I’m getting out in the streets. This is a way to channel the energy and the frustration of how everything closed, dealing with Covid, the fear of it. It gave them a renewed sense of, I have purpose, and I know why I’m here. Particularly as we’re in an election season, how can we keep doing that?

President Kimbrough’s view of student support includes (is there more?) is “to help channel that” going into the street.

Even more striking was his comment about “diversity.”

The president has to view themselves [sic] as the chief diversity officer. Not somebody that you hire, you give them a nice title, a little money, no staff, and then say, OK, I’ve done my job. It happens far too often. It’s got to be modeled from the top — that person is engaged with a diversity of students and showing that.

Nice preaching, but let’s take a look at how Dillard practices diversity. According to College Factual, a college evaluator, Dillard’s undergraduates are 91.4% black. 5.6% are ethnicity unknown, and there are not enough whites or Hispanics or Asians to count.

Dillard’s own figures are somewhat different, but the picture is the same monochrome:

African American: 68%
Caucasian: 0%
Non-Resident Alien/Intl Students: 1%
Hispanic: 0%
Asian/ Pacific Islander: 0%
Two or More Races: 15%
Unknown: 15%

Dillard’s “Student Gender” numbers are also striking: Female: 75%; Male: 25%.

According to today’s gospel according to affirmative action, at selective colleges fewer whites and Asians must be admitted than would be the case without affirmative action and standards must be lowered for blacks and Hispanics so that a sufficient number of them can provide whatever benefits “diversity” has to offer to the whites and Asians who were admitted despite their race and ethnicity.

If the practitioners, pundits, and philosophers of higher education really believe what they preach about “diversity,” where is their concerted effort to round up at least a few white, Asian, and Hispanic males for Dillard and similar institutions?

A Tale Of Two Riots

“A destructive, roving band of people broke into several Seattle businesses” on the night of July 22, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reports.  They “roamed about the Capitol Hill neighborhood, doing massive amounts of property damage, looting, shooting fireworks, and committing arson.” Moving on, the mob broke into businesses, looted, started fires, and then “used baseball […]

Bonkers In Bangor

Some of us are old enough to remember that “affirmative action” originally meant taking steps to ensure that applicants and employees were treated “without regard” to race, etc. If you’re not old enough to remember — or you’re so old you’ve forgotten — you can look up President Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925 (1961) and President […]

Misreading Polling Data On Race

I have a new essay on the still alive Minding The Campus, “Misreading Polling Data on Race.” It takes a critical look at FiveThirtyEight.com’s insufficiently critical look at some recent polling data.

More On Troy, Alabama

Two days ago, in “John Lewis, R.I.P,” I discussed how John Lewis’s and my path away from our joint home town, Troy, Alabama, did and did not cross. Writing that post dredged up some old memories about growing up there, one of which is a more than 20 year old letter to the editor of […]

John Lewis, R.I.P.

John Lewis, the iconic civil rights hero and Congressman, has just died. I am tempted to say I knew him before he was iconic, but that’s not quite accurate. More important, we both grew up in the same small town, Troy, Alabama, at about the same time, but one of the most reprehensible things about […]

Lynching Language

Black Lives Matter On The Ballot

Happy July 4th! America: Love It … Or Vote Democratic

So, South Carolina Wants A Quota

End Run Around Prop. 209

The Democrats Try To Revive Affirmative Action, Again

The Equivalent Of War?

Garner On “Racism” vs. “Racialism” Is Off

R.I.P M.T.C.

Abigail Thernstrom