Another Driver-By Attack On Equality

Shanta Driver, of BAMM fame (or perhaps “infame,” since she’s infamous [“well known for some bad quality or deed,” says the dictionary built in to the Apple operating system]), is at it again, continuing her tirades against racial equality. This time the target of her Driver-by attacks are two new University of Michigan scholarships that have just been created to replace two now-illegal ones that had been based (“partly based,” said U-M officials) on race and sex.

Why U–M felt it necessary to give preferential aid to women, who are overrepresented in the undergraduate student body, has never been satisfactorily explained. In the class of freshmen who entered in Fall 2006, for example, 386 more men than women applied, but 278 more women than men were admitted. But forget that for now.

According to Provost Teresa Sullivan, the new scholarships have dropped their concern to reward race and gender and “moved towards socioeconomic status, or some other form of underrepresentation, such as being a first-generation college student.” The university claims that it is too early to know what impact this change will have, but it is not too early for Ms. Driver. She knows.

Shanta Driver, national spokesperson for BAMN, a pro-affirmative action group challenging the ban in court, predicted a “tremendous decline’’ in scholarships for poor black and Hispanic students because there are many more poor white students in Michigan….

“A lack of financial aid is the single highest [sic] reason that black students do not come to a University of Michigan and stay,’’ said Driver.

In the same vein The Detroit News quoted Ms. Driver’s accusation that “U-M is denying educational opportunities to black and Latino students who could succeed at U-M.” Well, yes, in a manner of speaking, but not because they’re black and Latino. By her logic U–M is “denying educational opportunities” to even more whites, since there are more poor whites who are not receiving aid than poor blacks or Latinos.

The all-knowing Ms. Driver did not say how or where she came by the certainty that finances were more important than academic qualifications or performance in explaining why blacks did not attend U–M or left after enrolling. Still, note her objection to preference based on class or economic need because it will help too many whites (not a disproportionate number of whites, but too many whites).

Alas, Ms. Driver’s implicit equation of civil rights with a racial spoils system does nothing more than echo the argument of today’s racial rights leaders. Theodore Shaw, head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said exactly the same thing here (in remarks I criticized here):

More and more, Shaw said, he hears that affirmative action should be based on class, not race. But since the majority of poor people are white, Shaw said, such a shift would leave black and Latino students underrepresented.

Of course, it’s no longer news that the rank and file of the civil rights movement has abandoned civil rights for racial spoils. Indeed, we should probably stop referring to Shaw, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, et. al. as “civil rights leaders” and start referring to them as advocates for racial rights.

Say What? (3)

  1. Brad June 23, 2007 at 8:15 pm | | Reply

    “…and start referring to them as advocates for racial rights.”

    Actually, I believe your “racial spoils” description is more to the point, as actual “rights” are rarely involved in any of this. Besides, only individuals have “rights” in a civil society; the concept of group rights is hostile to civility, in the same way equality of outcome is hostile to equal opportunity.

  2. FreeMan June 24, 2007 at 12:16 pm | | Reply

    Deception Brad “only individuals have rights in civilized society” then the US for most of its history denied individual rights based on gender & race to the majority of its residents – The US based on your definition is not civilized

  3. David Nieporent June 24, 2007 at 5:40 pm | | Reply

    In any case, the Driver/Shaw position is mathematically illiterate. If blacks and hispanics are disproportionately poor, then helping poor people will help blacks and hispanics disproportionately. It’s not the absolute number of whites vs. blacks, but the relative number, that’s relevant.

Say What?