Tag Archives: affirmative action

Politics: A Color-by-Numbers Study

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Mitty Loves the Kids!

In the aftermath of Democratic battle over the black vote, I started thinking about how politics tend to shake out among racial lines. While I cannot speak to why whole groups of people vote one way or another (theories abound) I can explain a little of what has shaped my views and beliefs.

Part of that reason is the complete and total lack of interest in minority issues from the Republican camp. They aren’t really interested in diversity or social justice. If Republicans are interested in black voters, it’s more of a superficial interest, at best. You don’t really want to talk to me, you just want to use the word “bling” in a sentence.

(Exhibit A: The pic I chose for this piece. I expect if Mitt Romney was a bit more current, he would have yelled out “Mitty loves the kids!” as opposed to quoting the Baja Men. Alas, one can only dream…in da wind…in da wind…)

At any rate, I do try to occasionally see what Republicans are discussing and see if there have been any major shifts in the party that are worth noticing. I was recently directed to this column by Larry Elder, a self-proclaimed Libertarian who just so happens to roll with the Republicans.

In “A Democrat or A Republican?” Elder tries to explain why people vote on way or another. The logic he employs to demonstrate this baffles my mind:

Republicans believe hard work wins, and government should allow you — to the fullest extent possible — to keep what you earn. Democrats believe that success results from luck, chance and happenstance, and therefore a just government takes from those who have and gives to those who do not.

Hard work wins? Really? And y’all backed a President who looks at Camp David as a lifestyle choice? Half-jokes aside, I notice this is a common way to frame the debate between parties – one party wants people to work hard and achieve, the other party wants handouts. From a more leftist perspective, one could argue that Republicans stand for corporate welfare and old boys clubs while others just want the opportunity to work hard. It’s really in how you look at things.

Republicans believe discrimination to fix previous discrimination remains discrimination, and that all a government can be is just in its own time. Democrats wish to use government to “rectify” past wrongs, which they hold responsible for today’s “inequities.”

So…you’re saying there aren’t inequities today? No skill gaps? This isn’t just a black and white issue. And we don’t need to “rectify” past wrongs? Why is rectify in quotes? I have yet to think of a problem that one can solve by ignoring it and hoping it goes away. I suppose we can call this the “fuck it, it’s time to move on” defense. Things happened in the past, but we need to press on to a new future. However, if we never face our past, how can we possibly act like we have laid all the issues to rest?

I am not sure about anyone else here… but in my life, running from old problems tends to create more problems in the long run.

Republicans believe that government should empower the individual — that a government that taxes least taxes best. Democrats want individuals to empower government, and support policies that redistribute income from person A to “deserving” person B.

Continue reading

Ward Connerly fools you into dismantling affirmative action, again

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

The latest issue of Ms. Magazine, which hits newsstands today, has an interesting investigative report on Ward Connerly. It’s definitely worth a read.

(Those of you who have been with this blog since the Mixed Media Watch days may remember a regular feature we used to do called Ward Watch, in which we would affectionately refer to him “Moneybags”.)

Who’s Ward Connerly? Well, he’s a self-identified multiracial man who has made millions over the years by helping right-wing interests dismantle affirmative action.

Only he’s managed to do it by pretending to advance the rights of people of color. Like when he tried to fool multiracial organizations into supporting his initiative to do away with all racial classification (which would, not coincidentally, make it impossible to track racial discrimination).

Next week, on Super Tuesday, he’s trying to get anti-affirmative action ballot measures passed in five different states. Only in his usual sneaky way, he’s naming them “civil rights initiatives” to trick people into voting for them.

Don’t be fooled, people. Read on for excerpts from the Ms. Magazine piece:

Now, in what he is calling “Super Tuesday for Equal Rights,” Connerly is leading simultaneous efforts in five states to qualify ballot measures for the November election, each claiming to prohibit “discrimination” and “preferential treatment.” The deceptively named “civil rights initiatives” in Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, Nebraska and Oklahoma are really designed, like the California initiative, to ban affirmative action for women and minorities in public employment, public education and public contracting—although if Connerly has his way, the term “affirmative action” will never be referenced. What has never been widely reported in the coverage of Connerly’s campaigns are his ties to the large public-works contractors and construction-industry organizations that stand to benefit tremendously from eliminating programs that help level the playing field for women- and minority-owned businesses.

…An analysis of the two organizations’ IRS filings shows that between 1998 and 2006, Connerly and his business Connerly & Associates received a total of
$8.3 million—nearly half (46 percent) of the $18.5 million in total revenues reported in that period by the two nonprofits. In addition to salary and
benefits, Connerly receives expense accounts and fees for speaking, media interviews and consulting (see chart, page 38). In the last reported fiscal year,
2006, Connerly received $1.6 million— 66 percent of the $2.4 million in revenues his nonprofits generated that year.

…Connerly’s Civil Rights Initiative (CRI) campaigns use purposefully deceptive language to confuse some voters into repudiating policies they might otherwise support. Virtually all his campaigns purport to ban “discrimination and preference” on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. Even those who read the language of his initiatives with caution will not necessarily recognize a ban on discrimination or preference as a vote to end affirmative
action.

…In fact, when the city of Houston changed the wording of a Connerly initiative in that city to pose a direct question to voters about whether affirmative-action policies should be banned, the initiative lost. But when elected officials and courts allowed him to use his deceptive language in California and Washington, the initiatives passed.

Of A Split Mind: Thoughts on Affirmative Action

by Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

I’ve been reading and reading and reading about Barack Obama and his views on affirmative action.

First came this Washington Post Op-Ed analyzing Obama’s comments on ABC’s “This Week.”

Eugene Robinson, the author of the piece, compares Obama’s statements:

Obama has repeatedly gone on record as a supporter of affirmative action. But “if we have done what needs to be done to ensure that kids who are qualified to go to college can afford it,” he said in the ABC interview, “affirmative action becomes a diminishing tool for us to achieve racial equality in this society.”

He seemed to side with those who think class predominates when he said, “I think that we should take into account white kids who have been disadvantaged and have grown up in poverty and shown themselves to have what it takes to succeed.”

Robinson ends by discussing other issues in college education – like legacy admissions – and notes his own views on race and class.

After reading the Op-Ed, I came across another interesting post. Written by dnA of the Too Sense blog, he address the original issue in this post, and then revisits the topic in yesterday’s post.

dnA summarizes his views by stating:

Obama seems to be suggesting that AA is needed only for those people for whom “race and class still intersect.” That black middle class folks who are the first generation in college need AA, “as opposed to fifth or sixth generation college attendees.”

Empirical research bears out that race still matters in hiring practices, regardless of class, which means that black folks of all classes need Affirmative Action, not just those who are poor and are first generation college attendees.

Saying otherwise is suggesting a significant change in Affirmative Action as we understand it.

Obama is obviously between a rock and a hard place on that one. There is no right answer – at least, not one that will please a large group of people.

I wish I could supply an answer, but I cannot. On one hand, I understand Obama’s sentiments – most of the obstacles I have had in life have resulted from being poor, not being black. The boost I received from programs rooted in affirmative action were predominantly to overcome financial barriers. I remember sitting in my AP classes, listening to my friends discuss SAT prep programs like Kaplan, expecting their parents to cough up the $700 (it was much more expensive in 1999) it would take to increase their SAT scores by 200 points.

I remember being silent during those discussions, knowing that in my household a free $20 was hard to come by. I earned all my own money in those days, and $700 might as well have been seven million. Paying the reduced fees on my AP tests broke my pockets enough, along with all of the extra expenses involved in being an extra-curricular superstar and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life. Thank goodness for my pre-college programs. They gave us PSATs and SAT prep every year, paid for up to five college applications, and allowed us access to internships, interviewing skills, and summer school and job opportunities that my friends took for granted.

Still, I understand Obama’s position. Broke is broke. Poor white kids are at just as much of a disadvantage as poor black kids, right? Continue reading

Will UC Berkeley become a um, Historically Asian College?

by guest contributor Jeff Yang

uc berkeleyCheck out this interesting story in the New York Times: “Little Asia On the Hill,” the cover feature of this week’s “Education Life” supplement. It explores something that Californians have been aware of for almost half a decade now–in the wake of the repeal of affirmative action laws, Asian Americans have become an increasingly dominant force at U.S. elite colleges.

UC Berkeley, considered by many to be the best public university in the nation, and perhaps the world, is currently 41 percent Asian, a proportion that’s over three times higher than the percentage of Asian Americans in the California population, and almost 10 times higher than the percentage of Asians in the U.S. And Berkeley is just one example among many; along the bottom of the article runs a ticker-style strip recounting the Asian American percentage on top college campuses across the nation, from 13 percent at Princeton to 27 percent at Wellesley, 17 percent at University of Texas – Austin, and 27 percent at M.I.T.

This poses a dramatic challenge for the redress of historical discrimination: Black and Latino enrollment at top universities has suffered significantly over the past five years. But it should be noted as well that the net effect on white enrollment has essentially been zero–suggesting that the elimination of race-based affirmative action has been exacerbated by the preservation of other kinds of questionable preference (such as preferences for the children of alumni, who are said to have a “thumb on the scale” giving them a 20 percent greater chance of admission at most schools).

And this is ultimately unfair to Asian Americans as well. If college admissions are to be a true meritocracy, why protect certain classes of applicants who are mostly white and mostly privileged? Legacies make up an average of 10 to 20 percent of admissions; at Ivy League colleges, legacy applicant pools range from 75 percent to 90 percent white.

But even eliminating legacy preferences won’t resolve this situation on its own. Nor are there easy and good solutions that don’t penalize groups or individuals in fundamentally life-changing ways. But there aren’t easy, good solutions to anything, really; other than on late night infomercials, “good” almost always goes hand in hand with “difficult and painful.”

That said, I’m intrigued with what’s happening at these, uh, Historically Asian Colleges. Critics have said that Asian grads of places like UC Irvine (majority Asian American), Berkeley, and UCLA (the “University of Caucasians Lost among Asians”) are not being prepared for the real world. They also say that Asian American students spend all their time in libraries, don’t contribute to “student culture,” and tend to seclude themselves into ethnic clusters, refusing even to interact across ethnic lines, much less racial ones.

Based on my own experiences visiting these campuses, I pretty much wholeheartedly disagree: That depiction of Asian Americans is at best a generalization and at worst a rationale for outright discrimination.

I also think that spending four (or so) years in an environment where you’re part of the “mainstream”–as opposed to an outsider, an exception, an alien–is incredibly empowering to this generation of Asian Americans. And when I say generation, I mean generation: 8 in 10 Asian Americans attend college, meaning that for Asian American Millennials, this four-year period of normality is essentially the norm.

I predict that this will be the most important generation in Asian American history–with more leaders, more outstanding achievement, and more social progress for our community than any preceding it, including my own (which I’m largely writing off; all in all, we’ve been like a lull between the pioneering generation of the 60s and 70s and the emerging one of the 00s and beyond).

I’d love to hear from those of you who attended or are attending heavily Asian American colleges, to get your opinions on the experience. In fact, I’d love to hear from all of you, to get your thoughts on this topic for a possible future column. Mail me with your thoughts at asianpopculture@gmail.com. And Happy New Year!