:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Friday, June 25, 2004  

Refreshing debate about blacks in higher education

Some might use this article as ammunition for scrapping race-based admissions to college and evidence for the need to move to a solely class-based system, but I say "not so fast!" We must reform the system instead of scrap it, for so many reasons (another really long post).

It seems that a majority of blacks in elite institutions are actually West-Indian or African immigrants or their children, or children of biracial couples. Most colleges do not have a way of finding out if a black applicant is an immigrant or from the United States. Therefore, the question arises -- are we really reaching out to blacks who were descendents of slaves in the United States, or are we instead accepting others who haven't faced centuries of discrimination and glass ceilings?

I think it's of extreme importance to provide higher education possibilities for black "descendents of slaves" as we're calling them in this article, to provide for past injustices that have held them down. Surely, as someone quoted in the article says, immigrants and children of biracial couples probably face a certain amount of discrimination too, and it still matters whether you grow up black or white in America. But the history of what we've done to blacks who've been here since the birth of our nation needs to be addressed. Perhaps applicants can be asked about their descendents? Perhaps we can do a better job of outreach to historically disadvantage communities?

And to address the class issue -- I strongly believe that we need more class equality in higher education. But to completely dismiss, after only 40 years after the Civil Rights movement, that race no longer factors in, is in my opinion, historical amnesia. I'm waiting for the reparations movement to gather more steam, and maybe we'll actually give payback one day -- 40 acres and a mule, that blacks were once promised.

Here's a telling quote from Professor Mary Waters, Harvard University:

"You need a philosophical discussion about what are the aims of affirmative action,'' Professor Waters said. "If it's about getting black faces at Harvard, then you're doing fine. If it's about making up for 200 to 500 years of slavery in this country and its aftermath, then you're not doing well. And if it's about having diversity that includes African-Americans from the South or from inner-city high schools, then you're not doing well, either."

posted by Anjali Taneja | 6/25/2004 11:46:00 AM | |


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