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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

America is not black and white any more

Affirmative action was created at a time when most Americans belonged to a white majority or a black minority, writes Megan McArdle in the Washington Post.

"In 1960, more than five out of every six accounted for in the census were White — and of the remainder, the overwhelming majority were Black," she writes. Hispanics weren't counted separately until 1970, but were unlikely to be as high as 5 percent.

Unsurprisingly, our civil rights architecture was primarily structured to equalize the relations between a Black minority that had suffered centuries of state-sponsored racial oppression and a majority group that had perpetuated that manifestly unjust system. The civil rights establishment ended up with a dual mandate to prevent discrimination while narrowing the lingering gaps that reflected past injustice.

"Diversity" was used to avoid admitting the real goal is racial balancing, writes McArdle.

But immigration has changed the demographics, she writes. (There's a lot more intermarriage too.) The old framework creates new absurdities.

. . . a Pakistani is “Asian,” but an Afghan born a few miles across the border might be coded “White”; the daughter of a Spanish doctor is Hispanic, eligible for various private and government-sponsored affirmative action programs, while the child of an Italian janitor, who might be visually indistinguishable from the doctor’s child, is presumably in no need of help.
. . . American descendants of enslaved people are our most disadvantaged citizens, with enduring gaps in education, income and wealth, but African immigrants are much better educated than average.

The children of Asian immigrant families are qualifying for elite universities by grades and test scores in large numbers. They don't get in on legacy preferences, rarely on sports. The daughter of non-English-speaking restaurant workers gets no admissions "tip." She's not seen as "diverse."

Asian-American students would be 43 percent of Harvard's admitted class, if only academics were considered, the university's researchers concluded. The actual number that year was 19 percent. Admissions officials assign subjective "personal" ratings to candidates that invariably rate Asian Americans lower than other groups.

Racial discrimination is clear, writes Wenyuan Wu on Minding the Campus. Students for Fair Admissions, which is suing to end racial preferences, found that an Asian-American applicant to Harvard with a 25 percent chance of admissions would have a 35 percent chance if he were white, a 75 percent chance if Hispanic, and a 95 percent chance if he were black.


Joanne Jacobs
Joanne Jacobs
Nov 03, 2022

New York Times, June 25, 2018: By Anemona Hartocollis

Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower than others on traits like “positive personality,” likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected,” according to an analysis of more than 160,000 student records filed Friday by a group representing Asian-American students in a lawsuit against the university.

Asian-Americans scored higher than applicants of any other racial or ethnic group on admissions measures like test scores, grades and extracurricular activities, according to the analysis commissioned by a group that opposes all race-based admissions criteria. But the students’ personal ratings significantly dragged down their chances of being admitted, the analysis found.

. . . Whites get higher personal ratings than Asian-Americans, with 21.3 percent of…


Nov 03, 2022

This was seen in the Supreme Court oral arguments during Fisher V Texas. Everyone kept talking about poor black children when the real issue for admitting Hispanic children from the upper middle class into UT-Austin using lower standards than for white students outside the top 10% criteria.


Nov 02, 2022

"Asian-American students would be 43 percent of Harvard's admitted class, if only academics were considered, the university's researchers concluded. The actual number that year was 19 percent."

This citation, and specifically the word "academics" is the problem with the lawsuit. By that, they mean standardized test scores and GPA. However, those are not, and should not be, the only factors in college admissions. Students should be assessed on a whole body of evidence. And evidence is clear that both in education, the work place, and even life, the EQ is equally important, if not a more significant indicator of success, than the IQ.

Colleges should not be forced to simply admit students based on a "cut list" of…

Nov 03, 2022
Replying to

There's no indication of that. A specific Asian students has higher test scores but lower scores in the personal ratings, according to the lawsuit. So, it seems they don't want "personal ratings" to count and only want test scores weighed. I just don't see the proof of discrimination based on race. They aren't rejected because they are Asian. They just aren't admitted based only on test scores. Seems pretty clear.

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