Race on campus

Two stories about race & higher education from The Washington Post: At U-Michigan, Minority Students Find Access — and Sense of Isolation, At Boston U., ‘Holistic’ Admissions Venture Beyond Black and White (thanks to Steve Sailer for the second link). I must admit there is a paradigm gap between the reporters that filed the stories and I, while I tend to put the burden of proof on those arguing in favor of affirmative action of any sort, the authors of the pieces seem to assume that “pro-diversity” policies are beneficial as the default position. The first story especially seems to emphasize personal stories and cherry-picks minority students that might get into the University of Michigan even without race-conscious policies. The focus should be on those who are significantly below the average academically of their fellow students. Check this out:

She carries a 3.8 grade-point average while taking advanced courses and finished in the 98th percentile of students who took the PSAT. Recruitment letters are cluttering her mailbox. Without affirmative action, Currie said, the letters would almost certainly dwindle, and so would offers of financial aid. Her mother is raising three children on a waitress’s wages, so she needs a scholarship.

I’m a bit curious as to why the PSAT score rather than the SAT score was mentioned. And if the SAT score is in the same percentile, along with the GPA, this seems like a student that could get scholarships, no matter the race. And let me be frank, I know plenty of people that need a scholarship and have working-class parents, who happen to be white or Asian. The crap about financial difficulties of underrepresented groups is only tangential to their concern with diversity, as middle-class blacks tend to suffer academically in comparison to their peers as well. Needless to say the journalists that file these stories don’t propose replacing race-conscious affirmative action with income-conscious policies. Now more silliness:

In 1954, there were 200 black students at Michigan, according to school records. Twelve years later, there were 400, barely more than 1 percent of the total student population of 32,000. At that time, 55 percent of Detroit’s 300,000 students were black.

Uh, do we really want to use Detroit as an example for black Michganders? Other parts of the article refer to the insensativities that are creating a hostile racial environment for black undergraduates (you know, questions about rap music and differences in hair washing methodology)-which seem to point to the fact that Detroit and its normal social mileau is typical for African-Americans in the heads of mislead whites. Is it? Isn’t it? Be a little clever and put the assumptions in different articles so you don’t seem to crassly exploitative of the facts. Additionally:

Helen Basterra, a 23-year-old junior from England, said, “I find it astonishing the amount of people who are against affirmative action. America is a colorblind society, but there’s such division on campus. It goes to show you how much race is a factor in this society.”

Ah yes, the Brits. I have relatives in Britain, I know a bit about their racial situation, and let me say that my kin (who are professionals) generally assert that the United States is more accepting of browns as normal members of society than England. They could be wrong-and it takes two to tango, but Europeans lecturing America on race in this day & age is kind of ridiculous to me. And how about the logic of a woman who is confused as to why color-blind America has an issue with race-aware affirmative action?

If proportional diversity is the end itself affirmative action is probably necessary. Many socieities espouse these values without controversy, they keep the peace. But they don’t lie to themselves and act as if it reduces segregation. All the complaints about white-black lack of interaction at U of Michigan (a liberal campus from what I know) seem to imply that the problem is with the whites-but blacks also often are more comfortable “among their own kind.” As someone who isn’t particularly, I think I can assert without prejudice that being more comfortable among one’s own race is normal, uncontroversial and not contingent upon a hostile racist environment. And though many of us anti-affirmative action conservatives can be a bit self-serving about our talking points-I do sincerely believe that excessive concern about race during admissions leads to greater racial & racist awareness among students, not less [1].

Update: Just listened to a self-righteous chick talk about how she never would have met black people if she hadn’t had a black roommate in law school. Oh yeah, this is the type of person that really gets changed by the experience-she never would have met black people if it weren’t for law school! If she lives in Michigan she must have had a segregated background, she could have just gotten out, dated a black guy, I don’t know. Christ, why the fuck is it so hard for white people to meet colored folk??? Idiotic. I guess I’m doing a public service by introducting white people to someone brown everyday, yip-dee-dee!

Update II: Let me make myself clear, the reason I get ticked off about whites gushing about how experiences with non-whites “changed their whole view on the world” is that they are obviously superficial and patronizing when they say this-they never really specify what the hell they are talking about. I’m an interesting & entertaining person I’d like to think-my brownness might contribute to that, but I suspect that it is only a minor variable in the equation. I’m not some exotic animal that the fully human individual white person can experience to make them understand the beauty of all God’s creations. But I’ve had plenty of people treat me like this.

[1] By self-serving, I mean the stuff about how it is bad that unprepared black and Latino students get sent to prestigous schools to fail. I mean, that’s important, but the principle of race-blindness and opposition to social engineering a priori is the real deal.

"Blonde like me"

Richard Poe and DP (Dienikes Pontikos) are in a little dispute over what race means. About a month back, I was going to review the book Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class by Laurence Otish Graham. I never got to that, but perhaps I’ll hit that at some point time permitting. In any case, I would just like to share a peculiar anecdote out of the book.

Scene: His brother’s wedding. Graham is at the table. A blonde woman approaches and points under his seat. She asks what the deal is with the broom, and Graham replies that the bride and groom will jump over it. It’s an old slave custom. The woman sneers and asks why he’s bringing those “nigger customs” to the wedding. Graham is in shock as the woman walks away. He looks around the table, and wonders aloud how such a racist white woman would be invited to the wedding. One of the people at the table corrects Graham, because you see, the blonde woman went to Howard with the bride, and she’s black. At this point, Graham changes his tune, and he realizes many of the “white” people at the wedding are actually black! They are just part of the black upper class that Graham is a marginal member of himself, and he no longer sees any curiosity in the woman referring to “niggers,” as they are now of her own race, the black race, she being a blonde white-skinned member of that race….

There are many stories like this littered throughout the book, but Graham adhere’s pretty strongly to the dogma of hypodescent, so he doesn’t seem to be very reflective about this bizarro style of thinking. He refers many times to the color caste-system that prevails among the hereditary black upper class, but in the end, he doesn’t seem to criticize it with any great zeal.

Dr. So & So's back-up profession

I went up to Portland last week partly to hang with a friend who is going to Michigan for a medical residency. I have to retell a story that I heard from him, which should give my readers a laugh and make them think. This is a true story, I know the person in question and have asked him about the accuracy of the details 🙂

So, my friend is graduating about 3rd or so in his class of 90 from medical school (OHSU). His best friend in med school is 1st in his class, and is going to do his residency at Harvard (anesthesiology), and rejected offers from a wide variety of programs of high prestige (including the best in the country in his area, UCSF). My friend has always wanted to be a doctor, medical school was his goal from his first day of his freshmen year as an undergrad. This other guy though is not the same.

How did he become a doctor? Well, after graduating from college, he took a year off and worked as a nursing assistant. He had been rejected from nursing schools and was going to reapply. One of his professors found out that he was working as a nurse’s assistant and encouraged him to take the MCATs and apply to medical school as a back-up option. So he did real well on the tests and got accepted and the rest is history. But if this individual had been accepted to nursing school the first time around, it is quite clear that he would probably be in that field at this point in life.

Anyway, I just thought it was pretty funny, and reminds us all you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

Posted by razib at 09:29 PM

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Pim Fortuyn killed to "protect" Muslims

I hope retro-progressive multiculturalists won’t assail me for a link to this article, Gay Politician Killed ‘To Protect Muslims’ in the Gay News Forum. Here is a very telling quote:

He said: “I confess to the shooting. He was an ever growing danger who would affect many people in society. I saw it as a danger. I hoped that I could solve it myself.

The radical Left activist likely does not see the irony in killing a man who spoke of the dangers to freedom of speech and action in Dutch society with the growth of Muslim influence. Now that many on the Left are whispering about anti-Semitism because of their solidarity with the oppressed people of color, perhaps they will start to engage in homophobia as well, since it is a decadent practice often condoned by the “white power structure.” When you look at it numerically, it seems like a no-brainer, a small segment of Western society that is shielded by outmoded Eurocentric values such as liberty and freedom set against the panoply of diversity and the time honored traditions of people of color….

I am tempted to paraphrase Niemoller here, “First they came for the Jews, and then they came for the queers….”

(thanks for Steve Sailer for pointing me to this story, though the choice of website to link to was all mine)

Update: Sailer on Pim in this week’s VDARE column.

From The Economist

Armed forces

Soldier white

Mar 27th 2003

From The Economist print edition

Britain’s armed forces are solidly white. That’s a problem for them

BRITISH and American troops may be fighting shoulder to shoulder in Iraq, but it’s easy to tell them apart. In pictures from the Gulf, our boys stick out for two reasons: they don’t wear sunglasses, and they are nearly all white.

Fewer than 2% of British servicemen and women are members of ethnic minority groups, compared with 9% of the population as a whole and 37% of the American armed forces. The British army is more diverse than the navy or the air force (both around 1% non-white), but that does not make it any more representative of British society, since many of those black and Asian soldiers are foreigners. This year, for instance, the force recruited 380 Jamaicans, 438 Fijians—and just 344 non-white Britons.

There is no reason why the armed forces ought to mirror the civilian population—as the police, for example, should. But the services will have to do better at minority recruitment if they want to keep their strength up. Competition from civilian employers is fierce at the moment, and the northern industrial towns that traditionally supplied men are in decline. As their populations fall, so the recruitment pool shrinks. For two out of the last three years, the army has fallen short of its recruitment targets.

The forces are now trying to bring in more non-white Brits, but they are up against some imposing obstacles. Only six years ago, the Commission for Racial Equality uncovered evidence of deeply-rooted racism in the army—and all the services subsequently signed up to a plan to improve the way they dealt with non-whites. Although things have got better since then, the military still struggles to convince ethnic minorities that its much-vaunted history and traditions do not extend to racial purity.

The whiteness of the military is in part just a numbers problem. As Chris Myant of the Commission for Racial Equality says, “if unemployed black men from Tottenham as well as unemployed white men from Salisbury thought of joining the army, they wouldn’t have a recruiting problem.” But it is also a matter of skills shortages. As the services become more high-tech, their need for recruits with mathematical and computer skills is rising. The army tends to recruit from the lower echelons of society; and poor ethnic-minority youngsters tend to be better-educated than whites in the same social group.

The armed forces have changed in other ways, too. They now spend much of their time on peacekeeping missions, where a premium is placed on tact and sensitivity. Even when fighting, soldiers are expected to make judgments about people that go beyond appearances. In Iraq, British soldiers are trying to spot the difference between civilians, reluctant soldiers, and diehard loyalists (who may be dressed as civilians); they are not just going after people with moustaches. A military that can cope with a bit of diversity in its own ranks is likely to be better at this sort of thing.

Martial Muslims

Beliefnet has an article highlighting the split in the Muslim community between those who think it is acceptable to join the American military forces and those who do not. Please note that this is not a new problem. During the Franco-Prussian and Austro-Prussian Wars in the 19th century there was some worry among the junker officer corps that newly incorporated Catholic Germans would not fight against co-religionists (this turned out to not be a problem). Additionally, early Christians generally did not join the Roman military because they considered the state inimical to their own interests. The legions remained one of the last bastions of paganism in the Roman state-early in the 5th century the emperor rescinded an order that officers had to be Christian because of objections from followers of the old cults that were well represented among the centurions (the rankers were almost all German at this point). I understand that American Christians have fought against Christian powers, but then, America is a Christian nation itself. The situation with Muslims is not quite analogous, as it seems quite likely that the next few years will involve a fair amount of conflict with Muslim polities, and Muslim soldiers will have to fight under the command of Christian officers.

Posted by razib at 07:16 PM

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Muslims in the army

Beliefnet has an article highlighting the split in the Muslim community between those who think it is acceptable to join the American military forces and those who do not. Please note that this is not a new problem. During the Franco-Prussian & Austro-Prussian Wars in the 19th century there was some worry among the junker officer corps that newly incorporated Catholic Germans of would not fight against co-religionists (this turned out to not be a problem). Additionally, early Christians generally did not join the Roman military because they considered the state inimical to their own interests. The legions remained one of the last bastions of paganism in the Roman state-early in the 5th century Theodosius II rescinded a stipulation that officers had to be Christian because of objections from followers of the old cults that were well represented among the centurions. I understand that American Christians have fought against Christian powers, but then, America is a Christian nation itself. The situation with Muslims is not quite analogous, as it seems quite likely that the next few years will involve a fair amount of conflict with Muslim polities, and Muslim soldiers will have to fight under the command of Christian officers.

Posted by razib at March 25, 2003 07:09 PM
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