Campus personalities present and past Rebecca C. Brown and Tommaso Sciortino tackle the issues. This week on a very special CalJunket: Rebecca learns not to chew with her mouth open and Tommaso finds out his best friend is addicted to no-doze.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
I'll give you a hint...Me! I was planning on weighing in on this Proposition 54 madness today anyway, then somehow my Prop 54 ranting resources were absorbed on CalStuff. Thus I present to you a re-publishing of my portion of the commenting thread from the aforementioned blog. I'm so lazy that I'm even going to leave in the typos. (I've omitted the names of my fellow commentators, just in case they don't feel like being so explicitly dragged onto my site.)
Dude #1 writes: ...Prop. 54 is not about ending backdoor affirmative action. It is about moving toward the ideal of a colorblind America. In this, it has great symbolic and perhaps even practical value....
I Respond: Don't deliberately be a dope, Dude #1. [Oh how I love calling people dopes.] At the very least, don't throw around the phrase "color blind society" as if our state's paperwork was the main obstacle between our current status and an ideal of equality.
Most likely, state educational facilities do not discriminate against non-whites/non-east Asians (or whites/east Asians, for that matter) in the admissions process. Hoever, there are many other state/public/private institutions in our society in which people ARE being judged by their appearance (not least of which is our judicial system). The discrimniation does not occur when someone circles an ethnicity on his hospital information; the discrimination occurs in real life, face-to-face, in a way that cannot be measured directly. It can, however, be measured empirically by collecting data about the number of blacks in higher education, about the number of latinos in upper management, about the number "not traditionally successful" Asians in prison, etc. We can in turn use this data to address problems in education and law that might contribute to disproportionalities in both crime and higher education.
Racism isn't on paper; it hasn't been since the 14th Amendment. Racism in in people's brains, and it's not going to be eliminated by eliminating the paperwork.
I'm on to you, supporters of 54. You're not out to discourage discrimination against traditionally mistreated minorities. You're out to make sure that your being white doesn't lose you a spot in college. Look around you on the Cal campus; there's no shortage of white people, however there's only a smattering of African Americans. Prop 209 passed. Get over it.
Dude #2 writes: Rebecca, you don't understand. We believe society cannot get beyond racial equality when our government legitimizes racial division.
Dude #3 writes: Well, I'm out to make sure that being white doesn't lose me a spot in college. There's something wrong with that? What about those folks out to make sure being black doesn't lose them a spot in college? What are they up to?
I respond: First, Dude #3, I take no issue with those of us who feel our whitehood should not make us less desireable college students; furthermore, I strongly disagree that being black inherently makes you a more desireable student. I'll say it one more time: I declare "Boo" to affirmative action and quotas. My assertion is that proponents of Prop 54 are disguising their desire to kill all forms of affirmative action as some I Have a Dream ideology of color blind equality.
As for "We believe society cannot get beyond racial equality when our government legitimizes racial division."...Racial divisions are not necessarily bad or discriminatory. Though the categories dilineated as "race" or "ethnicity" are blurry and increasingly transmutable (just as the dualism of male/female is increasingly malleable), these distinctions are crucial to culteral identity and understanding of history. Pretneding that different ethnicities don't exist completely deligimizes the fact that an African American and I (who am white) may have experienced different sub-cultures within the larger Californian culture as determined by our ethnicity. Following the "isn't it great how we're all the same?" rhetoric we learn from Saturday morning cartoons invalidates all non-majority cultures and beliefs. In short, racial (I would prefer to say ethnic) divisions don't damage our society; in fact, they enrich our culture, and the recognition of these differences is essential to tolerance. Rather, society is damaged when these distinctions are used to discriminate and harm.
So anyway I think I got my opinion across fairly well. Also from this very comment thread I got a little help expressing my beliefs from an old friend. (Whether he wanted to help me or not is up for debate.)
Tommaso Sciortino writes: [He warrants no anonymity. As soon as you see a man in his underwear, you're free to publicly use his name in any accurate context.] Whoa there, let's not let this morph into a debate about affirmative action. Let's stay on topic. Information is power. We all agree that we don't have a color blind society, but we shouldn't stop our state from checking to see if we're there yet. As I see it, prop 54 removes from political debate important information that can be used to inform legislators and electorate alike. If there's a particular application of the data you find offensive, fine, let's argue that. But let's not clap our hands over our ears and sing "la la la, we have no racial income inequality, la la la"..
Well done, Tom. I was seemingly incapable of saying it better myself.