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Affirmatively Disappointed

harvardA judge today ruled in favor of Harvard University in a high-profile case centered on Harvard’s consideration of race in admissions.  A group representing Asian students claimed the policy discriminated against Asian students, who have a markedly higher average score on entrance examinations.


Federal District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs said, “Harvard’s admission program passes constitutional muster” and that “ensuring diversity at Harvard relies, in part, on race conscious admissions.”


Her phraseology is curious.  In 2015, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, aka the “Wise Latina,” offered a blistering 58-page dissent when the high court voted 6-2 to uphold an effort to end affirmative action at public universities in Michigan. While writing with all of the grace and decorum of a jilted 13-year old girl, Sotomayor also committed the mistake made by all people who are losing the argument. She tried to re-brand it. Instead of “affirmative action” Sotomayor said she preferred the term “race-sensitive admissions policies.”  Judge Burroughs clearly read Sotomayor’s screed.


The irony is that Affirmative Action, which seeks to fight racial discrimination, is a racist concept.  If you support affirmative action, then you support individuals, who would otherwise be considered less qualified, earning positions and favors over more qualified people due to nothing more than their ethnicity. This, by definition, is racism.  It may be well-intentioned and it MAY have even been necessary at some point—but don’t try and pretend it is not racist.


Never mind the untold number of students and workers who have used this concept to land spots for which they were ill-prepared—consider the other consequences. Affirmative Action has given rise to the notion of “tokens.” It has compelled people to look at others with suspicion—wondering if they earned their job, or their seat in the classroom—or if they were “placed” there by a well-meaning system that is inherently flawed.


Do you think this fosters a spirit of cooperation and goodwill? Or does it foster suspicion and resentment?


I’ll put it another way. In 1985, I graduated Dan River High School, bound for Virginia Tech. Think about where we were at this point in history in terms of the development of computers. I NEVER touched a computer in high school. I barely knew what one looked like. I was computer-illiterate. When I got to Tech, I quickly learned that those who graduated from high schools in more prosperous areas in Northern Virginia had LOTS of experience with computers and were quite savvy. Since we were competing for grades I was at a MAJOR competitive disadvantage.


If I followed the victimhood philosophy, I would have complained to the university about the inherent and institutionalized disadvantage I was under. I would have complained about not being able to compete with students who came from homes where the household income was ten times higher than my own. I would have pushed for quotas allowing a proportionate percentage of students from “disadvantaged” school districts to be allowed access to the advanced classes—despite our poorer performance in entry-level courses. Anyone who disagreed with me would be “anti-rural” or “anti-poor.” I would have spent most of my waking hours denigrating them for their stance while claiming moral superiority.


Or….. I could have done what I ended up doing. I busted my ass and studied hard. I learned about computers. I learned MORE about computers. I continued to learn about computers. I helped others who were having trouble with computers. By the time I got out of Tech, only the engineers possessed more computer knowledge than me. I think I made the right choice. Its served me pretty well in other areas as well.


It’s time to face the facts. Applying the same solutions that were needed in the Civil Rights movement in a modern-day context is ineffective. At what point have we separated ourselves sufficiently from our past to end the remedies? In other words, when can we take the band-aid off of the wound? Do we keep it there forever; as it yellows and ceases to have any legitimate function, other than to remind us of the original wound?


If we are going to be a truly color-blind society, we need to become…..(wait for it)…..color-blind.




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