Affirmative Action
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The End of Affirmative Action in Sight?

From "Minority Rules: How will the Supreme Court rule in a crucial affirmative-action case?" by Debra S. Katz and Abigail Cook-Mack.

Kim Davidson's insight:

The outcome of several recent Supreme Court Cases  have indicated that Affirmative Action might be on its last legs. The ruling of Schuette v. Coalition, defending Affirmative Action, suggests that Affirmative Action is obsolete in this "post-racial" society. The decision of Fisher v. UT, while vague, also implied that the lower-level Texas state court should abolish Affirmative Action and that it "does not view affirmative action as essential." The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, also known as Proposal 2, a recent ballot initiative aimed at enforcing the decision of California's Proposition 209 to prohibit race or sex in consideration for public employment or admission to educational institutions, recently passed, a heavy hit to Affirmative Action. As a result, the "percentage of black, Latino, and Native American student admissions in the University of Michigan's undergraduate program has fallen by a third." 

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Affirmative Action Debate: Joseph C. Phillips 2/14- Intelligence Squared U.S. - YouTube

The motion: "It's time to end affirmative action" Moderator: Robert Siegel Speaking for the motion: John H. McWhorter, Terence J. Pell and Joseph C. Phillips...
Kim Davidson's insight:

There was a rather lively debate held at the Asia Society in New York Cityabout Affirmative Action in 2007. The motion was "It's Time to End Affirmative Action." Both sides argued their points passionately and convincingly. In this video, Joseph C. Phillips, a prominant African-American actor, argued for the motion. 

 

Notes: 

 

- nondiscrimination is one of the cornerstones of our nation

 

- Brown vs. Board of Education and the Civil Rights act of 1964 both suggest that discrimination based on race is unlawful

 

- Affirmative Action is no longer about nondiscrimination, it's about racial preferences --> that is what we oppose, racial preferences 

 

- Are racial preferences an effective means to combat racism? Absolutely not.

 

- Racial preferences tend to firm up negative stereotypes --> blacks in academia are not as qualified to be their as their white counterparts

 

- "There is no monopoly on brainpower" --> people of color can compete in all facets of life, and they will compete

 

- Atkinson: president of UC Berkeley --> it is impossible to achieve a racially diverse student body without racial preferences

 

- ^^ Black students don't have brainpower in sufficient quantities to be on the nation's leading college campuses --> offensive!

 

- so-and-so benefitted from affirmative action --> what tha'ts saying is that so-and-so didn't make the cut

 

- birthday party story --> evil of racial preferences

 

- children are stained by racial preferences

 

Mr. Phillips argues that Affirmative Action is assisting a social group that doesn't require assistance. The idea that people of color in higher education are only there because they check a box is offensive. People of color have the brain-power to prove this wrong, but they are being hindered by Affirmative Action.

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Racial Justice at UT Austin

Racial Justice at UT Austin | Affirmative Action | Scoop.it
Opponents argue that UT Austin's race-conscious admissions policies are no longer necessary in our "post-racial" society.
Kim Davidson's insight:

This article focused on incidents that hindered the Universtiy of Texas, Austin's progression towards its goal of moving forward as a racially diverse and accepting institution, therefore removing itself from "its history of racism and racial discrimination." UT Austin was one of the first institutions of higher education in the nation to have a  center for Mexican-American studies, encouraging scholarship focused on Mexican-American culture and history. It is therefore confusing and contradictory to hear about recent racial violence in which bleach-filled balloons were thrown at students of color. 

This article made me question the pros and cons of Affirmative Action: while I believe that the playing field should be level and that students of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds should have equal access to institutions of higher educaiton, I do not think that Affirmative Action should put students into an unsafe social or frustrating academic environment. 


Next steps: research the top 10% program and watch the Tim Wise Affirmative Action debate.

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Supreme Court Issues Big Non-Decision on Affirmative Action - COLORLINES

Supreme Court Issues Big Non-Decision on Affirmative Action - COLORLINES | Affirmative Action | Scoop.it
In short, the long, ugly fight over affirmative action will continue.
Kim Davidson's insight:

This article focused on the decision made by the Supreme Court on the Fisher vs. University of Texas case and what it means for the future of Affirmative Action.

Abigail Fisher, a white female who was recently denied admission at The University of Texas, Austin, accused the school's 

"race-concious admissions policy" of descriminating against her because of her race rather than her academic potential. The University, in response, argued that its admissions practices closely adhere to the most recent Supreme Court ruling on Affirmative Action, barely ten years old. The school "uses a blended admissions policy, whereby three-quarters of students are admitted via a race-blind program called the Top 10 Percent Plan, which automatically extends offers to the top graduates of each Texas public high school. The remaining incoming class is composed of students admitted after the consideration of many factors, of which race is but one." In addition, UT stated that her academic scores would have denied her admission regardless of her race.

In a nearly unanimous vote, the Supreme Court ruled to send Abigail Fisher's case back to state courts, declarng that "the lower court did not properly examine a section of Grutter v. Bollinger." This, in a more literal sense, has changed nothing about the current status of Affirmative Action: it is still a subject of hot debate.

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The Supreme Court on Affirmative Action in Higher Education

The Supreme Court on Affirmative Action in Higher Education | Affirmative Action | Scoop.it
The Supreme Court's conservative majority appeared to look favorably on Michigan's voter-approved law that bans use of racial criteria in college admissions.
Kim Davidson's insight:

I chose this article because it went into depth on the role that Affirative Action plays in the Higher Education, which of lately I have been very familiar with. Also, it provides more information for the "big picture" of Affirmative Action, which forms the foundation of my research. I currently know what Affirmative Action is and what it is designed to do: level the playing field and help create equal opportunities for racial and economic minority groups. I also have some background on the program's history: an early form was initiated by president John F. Kennedy, and it grew in breadth and effectiveness under his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. This article took my understanding a step further than just the basics: I now have some idea of the controversy behind Affirmative Action and the extent of its influence. This article focuses mainly on the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and their acceptance rates of racial minorities, specifically African-Americans and Latino/as. I know that there was a similar case at the University of Texas, which leads me to believe that colleges are "hot spots" for Affirmative Action disputes.

I think my next step will be to research the intersection of wealth inequality amd Affirmative Action, briefly outlined in the "Wealth Inequality in America" video I posted earlier this week.

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Is Affirmative Action on the Right Track?

Is Affirmative Action on the Right Track? | Affirmative Action | Scoop.it
Supporters of affirmative action still have a legal path open to them: giving preference based on socioeconomic status.
Kim Davidson's insight:

Golden Ideas:

i. "THE founding principle of affirmative action was fairness. After years of oppression, it seemed folly to judge blacks by the same measures as whites." --> this resonated with me, and is one of the reasons why affirmative action exists in the United States.

ii. "The decision to emphasize diversity over fairness is one that affirmative-action proponents made long before Wednesday, and it is a big reason they find themselves in such a vulnerable position today." --> I found this very illuminating, as it very simply sums up the reason why Affrimative Action is under pressure right now. It is a battle of diversity vs. fairness.

 

Thorns:

i. "With the courtroom overflowing, filled with people who have spent their careers fighting for or against affirmative action, only one side talked about fairness. And it was not the side defending affirmative action." --> this was hard to read: it seemed to me that the two sides were forgetting about the roots of Affirmative Action. Having only one side speak about fairness is distressing to me.

ii. "The crucial choice that affirmative-action proponents made long ago was to focus the program on race rather than more broadly on disadvantage." --> This made me stop and question the very intent of Affirmative Action. Is it not to level the playing field for those who are disadvantaged? And, while these people have consisted of certain racial groups in the past, is that still an accurate basis for establishing the group that reaps the benefits of this program today? Are achieving both not possible? These are questions that I would like to research further.

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Affirmative Action Debate: Tim Wise 3/14- Intelligence Squared U.S. - YouTube

The motion: "It's time to end affirmative action" Moderator: Robert Siegel Speaking for the motion: John H. McWhorter, Terence J. Pell and Joseph C. Phillips...
Kim Davidson's insight:

Tim Wise, an educator and anti-racism activist, argued against the motion and the point that Mr. Phillips argued: that it is not time to end Affirmative Action.

 

- Critics of Affirmative Action speak about racial preferences like it was invented in the 60's to benefit people of color

 

- In fatc, the entire history of the United States is the history of Affirmative Action for white people

 

- Contrary to Mr. Phillips' beliefs, this debate is about the extent to which racism currently exists. It was what caused the creation of Affirmative Action in the first place, and what continues to necesitate it today

 

- Most White people today owe their lives to Affirmative Action

 

- Affirmative Action created the white middle class

 

- Ending Affirmative Action would only further benefit Whites

 

- To end Affirmative Action is to ignore the ongoing reality of white racial preference in education and employment

 

- 3/4 companies subject to Affirmative Action laws willfully ignore them

 

- Job applicants with White-sounding names are 50% more likely to get a call back than applicants with Black-sounding names

 

- If Affirmative Action were abolished, none of this would get better...it would get worse

 

- People against Affirmative Action point out the unfair points awarded to students of color, but do not recognize the built-in preferences for Whites

 

- Under-qualified White people, no problem. Under-qualified people of color, no way.

 

- Whites are held to lower standards --> why Affirmative Action must be kept in place (?)

 

- 200 studies suggest that employees of color perform as good or better than their White male counterparts when given the chance to

 

- Legacy of White Racial preference

 

Ending Affirmative Action would only further entrench the ongoing racial preferences for White people and further foster negative stereotypes against people of color. Abolishing Affirmative Action would be like entering a man into a race against another man who has a 300 year head-start: it is not possible for the first man to catch up without a miracle. Therefore, Affirmative Action must be kept in place to help ensure equal opportunities for all.

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Justice Thomas: Affirmative Action is a Thing of the Past

Justice Thomas: Affirmative Action is a Thing of the Past | Affirmative Action | Scoop.it
Thomas argues state-sanctioned racial discrimination is "automatically fatal."
Kim Davidson's insight:

After the ruling of the Fisher vs. University of Texas case, Justice Clarence Thomas stated that he believed that the Supreme Court did not "go far enough" in limited the impact of Affirmative Action in higher education. Thomas believes that racial prejudices should only be supported by Federal Law when there is a "pressing public necessity." In other words, Affirmative Action does not qualify as legislature that prevents racial anarchy or chaos: it is doing more harm than good. Furthermore, Justice Thomas argued that the Supreme Court beat around the thorny bush of Affirmative Action with its decision, so to speak, by sending the case back to the lower-level state court of Texas. He believes that the Supreme Court should have been broader in its ruling, therefore overturning Grutter vs. Bolinger, an early case that upheld the University of Michigan's race-aware admissions process. 

Justice Thomas' opinion certainly drives home the fact that Affirmative Action is a topic of extreme debate, and is possibly on its last legs an a policy enforced by federal law in this so-called "post-racial" society of ours. 

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The Unforeseen Consequences of Affirmative Action in Higher Education

The Unforeseen Consequences of Affirmative Action in Higher Education | Affirmative Action | Scoop.it
Racial preferences spring from worthy intentions, but they have had unintended consequences—including an academic mismatch in many cases between minority students and the schools to which they are admitted.
Kim Davidson's insight:

This article focused on the deeper, unanticipated impacts that Affirmative Action has on its "beneficiaries" in higher education. It argues that while this attempt to level the playing field for minorities (especially ethnic) is worthy of praise, it has many unforeseen consequences. One of the most profound unpredicted repercussions is how self esteem affects the academic achievement of college and graduate/law school students affected by Affirmative Action. Because highly selective colleges and universities tend to go to great lengths to achieve a racially and economically diverse student body,  they are often willing to accept applicants who fulfill this desire for diversity but are not necessarily as academically qualified as other applicants who do not fulfill this desire. The article begins with the story of Jareau Hall's College experience. He "breezed" through his public High School in Buffalo, New York, with good grades and a stellar extracurricular agenda. He was recruited by Colgate University, which, while it did not expressedly declare so, was primarily interested in Mr. Hall because he was African-American. While he was a good student at his High School, his standardized test scores were significantly lower than some of his fellow applicants, who were White. He struggled in college: his work was too difficult for him, he did not understand what was expected of him, and he felt socially isolated. He dropped out after his Freshman year, later returning to Colgate and graduating in 2007. However, while Mr. Hall's story is one of success, there are thousands of others similar to his that are not. This article delves more deeply into the unforeseen consequences of leveling the playing field. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, "Affirmative Action as it existed when I was in school was an opportunity to bring kids into a race that they didn't even know was being run."

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As A Latina, Sonia Sotomayor Says, 'You Have To Work Harder'

As A Latina, Sonia Sotomayor Says, 'You Have To Work Harder' | Affirmative Action | Scoop.it
The Supreme Court justice tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about her "special responsibility."
Kim Davidson's insight:

I heard an interview on the radio yesterday between Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air and Sonia Sotomayor, the third female and first Latino/a Supreme Court Justice. About 35 minutes into interview, the topic of Affirmative Action came up. Sotomayor's insight was incredibly illuminating for me: "Affirmative action as it existed when I was in school was an opportunity to bring kids into a race that they didn't even know was being run. People like me had no background in understanding the availability of places like Princeton. It was affirmative action that made places like Princeton reach into schools and other venues that they had never previously recruited from to try and find talented kids of different backgrounds who they would give the experience of Princeton to. I was fortunate that they went to my High School." This, in my mind, is a case of Affirmative Action working successfully. Having gone to a public High School in the South Bronx, an education at an Ivy League school never even occurred to Sotomayor, let alone seem out of her league. She stated eloquently that Affirmative Action did not force schools like Princeton to accept more racially or economically diverse kids at the expense of qualification, but rather made them look for talented students in unexpected places. This made me think differently about the intentions of Affirmative Action and its benefits: allowing brilliant, underprivileged people like Sotomayor to excel and prosper in society. This interview, while very intense, left an overwhelmingly good taste in my mouth.

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Visuals of Wealth Distribution in the U.S.

Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actua...

Via Tomás Jacquez
Kim Davidson's insight:

This video did a great job of breaking the issue of unequal wealth distribution down into intuitive diagrams and graphs. The study that was conducted by the professor at Harvard blew me away: I was amazed to see the differences between what those interviewed though was an ideal distribution, what they though was the actual distribution, and what the data is in real life. Because of the relatively simple animated diagrams, I was able to clearly see and understand that the top 1% of American society controls (owns?) 40% of the nation's wealth! I finally understood why there has been worry about the status of the American middle class in recent news. 


The animation with 100 people representing the population of the United States was particularly illuminating for me: one person (representing the top 1%) was so much more wealthy than the other 99 people that their wealth didn't fit into the diagram. That visual alone was invaluable in my understanding of the basis of unequal wealth distribution and Affirmative Action in the United States. 

 

If this video had any "thorns", I suppose it would be exposing me to this cruel reality, though I would hardly call that negative. It made me think a lot about my personal economic background and my contribution to the current distribution inequality.  

 

Some lingering questions that I would like to explore further are:

-  How did the distribution become so uneven?

- What's to be done to level the playing field?

- What role does Affirmative Action play in all this? Is it helping or only creating more problems?

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Professor Julie Nice's blog on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action

Professor Julie Nice's blog on yesterday's  Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action | Affirmative Action | Scoop.it

Via University of San Francisco
Kim Davidson's insight:

This article is about affirmative action in higher education, using the University of Texas, Austin as an example. In a recent Supreme Court ruling, it was decided almost unanimously that affirmtive action be continued in higher education, when some thought that the ruling would put an end to it. While affirmative action is starting to play a less integral role in achieving racial and economic diversity, it is still necessary.

 

While there were no "reactions" on the piece, I would imagine that some people consider this forward progress. The fact the institutions of higher education are starting to be able to develope a diverse racial and economic student body without framework suggests development.

 

Personally, I found this topic useful as a preliminary article. It provided me with some sense of the depth of affirmative action in our country, as well as some of its benefits and weaknessess. I had never though before that affirmative action could play a role in the college process (of which I have recently been a part of), and it was illuminating for me to be exposed to this.

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University of San Francisco's curator insight, June 25, 2013 1:19 PM

"In an unexpected 7-1 ruling yesterday, the Supreme Court declined to put an end to affirmative action in higher education, as some had predicted it might."


[via usfca]


[image via Texas GOP Vote]