In an effort to pave a well-planned roadmap for its future, Western Washington University recently decided to send out a simple, six question survey. From meeting off-campus needs, to discovering the role of liberal arts and sciences at WWU, the university sought to improve on the basis of these answers. Two of the questions focused in on race. One read:
"How do we make sure that in future years ‘we are not as black as we are today?’"
Not as “black” as we are today? In other words, the insinuation is that the university’s student body is comprised of far too many people of African American descent, and that in future years WWU must take steps to reduce this disproportionate ethnic majority.
University of Michigan student Ebrie Benton, left, demonstrates outside the Federal courthouse, Wednesday, March 7, 2012, in Cincinnati, where the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals was hearing oral arguments in their review of their ruling last summer that Proposal 2, the ban on affirmative action in Michigan, is unconstitutional. Credit: AP
This happened nearly two weeks ago, and yet, where was the national outrage? Where was the national outcry? It’s hard to believe anyone would read such an atrocity and not loudly disagree.
The lack of national outcry to this racist assertion is simple.
Here’s the actual question:
"How do we make sure that in future years ‘we are not as white as we are today?’"
This is affirmative action, in action.
Affirmative action as practiced today doesn't, as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor recently wrote, prevent so-called "selective barriers against racial minorities" from being erected. It erects barriers and prejudices against those whose accident of birth didn’t make them a minority.
This wasn’t always the case. In fact, affirmative action was originally a good idea. It was meant to rectify ills that racial discrimination had perpetrated; chiefly, as the Heritage Foundation notes, it “authorized courts to take ‘affirmative action’ to uproot racially discriminatory practices. That objective was, and remains, morally right. But that same statute forbade race preference; it is morally wrong.”
The concept of affirmative action has since been shanghaied, re-branded and re-launched into something just as bad as the racial discrimination that brought the Civil Rights Act into fruition in the first place. Indeed, instead of simply eradicating the horrors of segregation and racial superiority, today’s affirmative action has forced the concept of “racial proportionality” to such an extent that openly discriminating (like the WWU questionnaire) against non-minorities has become perfectly acceptable.
Voters in the state of Michigan rightly saw the ills of this approach, and sought to rectify it. They voted to usher in a constitutional change that bans “using race as a factor in college admissions.” In other words, that all prospective students—regardless of race—would be considered on the basis of their merits and achievements alone . . . and not on a perceived need to fill some kind of racial void.
A radical idea, indeed.
Not surprisingly, this was quickly labeled as discriminatory—prompting a series of court cases that eventually culminated in Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision which allowed Michigan to do as it pleases with its constitution.
Also not surprisingly, this decision prompted a 58 page dissent from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor in which she exclaimed that [emphasis added]:
"The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat. But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities . . . The court ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. It is this view that works harm, by perpetuating the facile notion that what makes race matter is acknowledging the simple truth that race does matter."
Doesn’t this statement openly imply that minorities aren’t smart enough to get into college without the aid of racial preferencing? After all, Michigan wants to admit college students based on academic merit and not race . . . so what else are we to infer?
Indeed, this probably isn’t the platform upon which Sotamayor and other dissenters are operating. They are, as Sotamayor made clear in the latter half of that statement, operating on the tired premise that the United States is still full of racists; the majority of whom are white. Or African Americans like Justice Clarence Thomas, who apparently “hate their own race.” Per people like Sotamayor, Affirmative Action (or, racial preferencing) is the only way to rectify this.
If Michigan’s choosing to accept students on a completely color-blind basis isn’t honorable in the eyes of Sonia Sotamayor, what IS? What is the ultimate end in this struggle if not to curtail all racial discrimination?
(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
The question in this debate is simple: is it acceptable to discriminate against a certain race because of the ills a former generation perpetrated?
We can play this game both ways, if it is the right of every person to seek reparations from—and even discriminate against—those whose ethnicity once did them wrong, then I should be allowed to discriminate against Germans for the way the Nazis treated the Jews, for I am part Jewish. I should be allowed to discriminate against our government officials for the way their predecessors treated the Cherokee Indians, for I am part Cherokee. I should be allowed to discriminate against the English for the way that they massacred the Irish at Wexford and Drogheda, for I am part Irish. The list goes on in perpetuity.
Where does it end?
The fact is that it can’t. Not down this path, at least.
It ends when people—especially our leaders—stop making everything about race.
Mary Ramirez is a full time writer, and creator of www.afuturefree.com--a political commentary blog. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree
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