The feminist in me saw this video and immediately thought “This is a classic example of the privileged trying to maintain the patriarchy the best way they know how—offensively!” There are definitely better ways to get their point across.
But I started thinking about it, and although I don’t approve of their method, I have to say I don’t think their message is entirely wrong.
Perhaps this is where my white privilege shows up. I don’t bring this up merely because I’m concerned about white high school graduates everywhere, though.
I’ve always had trouble making up my mind when it comes to affirmative action. On one hand, I recognize that minority children are at a disadvantage when it comes to their education. Statistics don’t lie. On the other hand, I had several black, hispanic, and Asian friends in high school that flourished while other minority kids struggled. A good friend of mine who was Filipino and Mexican was the valedictorian of our class. I have never met a student more successful in high school. He has an admirable work ethic, and I can imagine that his parents were very supportive of him. And this is where I think the difference lies between the successful and the struggling. I think it definitely matters if your parents are supportive and helpful. Teachers can only do so much, and there will always be classrooms where some students are doing great while others aren’t—and I think that says more about the students themselves than the teacher in most cases.
So no, I don’t think race should necessarily be a factor in college admissions. I think it oversimplifies the way colleges look at students. Yes, a student might be black and you might assume that he’s had disadvantages in his high school education, but what if he’s the son of affluent parents, went to a private college preparatory school, and had access to tutors and SAT classes. Can’t he survive on his own merit then?
If we don’t judge students by merit, then aren’t we essentially allowing under-qualified students in? Admitting a student in despite poor high school performance just because they are a minority isn’t going to help anyone, including that student. They probably aren’t prepared for the rigor of that college if they didn’t meet its normal standards.
There’s also the technical issue of who counts as a minority. Take Josh for example: we were both National Merit Scholars, but he was awarded the extra distinction of being a National Hispanic Scholar. He received extra scholarship money and awards because of that distinction. Josh will be the first to admit that his status as a hispanic person is rather arbitrary; he appears more caucasian than anything, and from conversations with him it’s clear that he never felt oppressed or disadvantaged in school because he was 1/4 or so hispanic. He didn’t need the National Hispanic Scholar distinction to get a full ride to Texas A&M University—he earned that through true intelligence, regardless of his race. I would venture to say that the race-based scholarship was more of a slap in the face to his heritage (“clearly you need assistance, you’re hispanic!”).
I myself tried (rather unethically) to research scholarships that would take advantage of my very, very small amount of Cherokee heritage. I didn’t qualify in the end, and it made me realize how foolish the whole thing is. To say that race matters fundamentally, but then limit definitions of race shows how irrelevant race really is when it comes to education. Who’s to say what percentage really makes a difference?
The real problem we need to address is the state of our public high schools. We need to fund serious education reform (not cut education funds, as my home state of Texas just did). Minority children who attend inner city schools need to have the same opportunities that kids attending schools in the suburbs receive. We also need to encourage parents to be more involved in their child’s schooling, and remind them that teachers cannot ensure a child’s success on their own. Leveling the playing field in lower education will make affirmative action unnecessary.
-Caroline (with lots of input from Josh)
This is such a great article. I wish I could give it to all the people I’ve argued with in the past and say “See here? This is what you’re doing!” Alas.
We’re glad to have you along for the conversation :)
Just a heads up: Josh and I both just moved back to college, and I start classes tomorrow, hence the lack of posts this past week. Once we’re back into our routines posts will be much more frequent.
I feel the need to clarify the purpose of our blog. After publishing my recent post and helping Josh edit his first post, I worry that you, our readers, might think we’re trying to attack religion. That is not our intention at all. We wholeheartedly respect any faith you may hold, just as we expect your comments to maintain that same level of respect. I would hope that it was clear in my post, but I only take fault with religion when it intrudes into government. I was motivated to write that post both by Rick Perry’s campaign comments and a conversation I had a few months ago with some friends about politicians using their beliefs in their decision making. I’m always up for debate, so please leave comments in our inbox, but I will have no qualms deleting comments that accuse me of attacking or hating religion. There’s no need to respond to that, because it’s simply not true.
On a related note, I don’t have any desire to discuss my personal beliefs, nor do I think Josh would care to talk about his. Even though I was discussing religion in my last post, my own beliefs aren’t germane to the discussion, which focused on religion in the general sense as it relates to government. This blog is not the place to engage me in a theological debate.
Thanks for your understanding, and we hope you are enjoying the blog. Keep an eye out for more frequent posts now that we’re up and rolling.
This blog is born of frustration, confusion, and anger with the state of American culture and politics. But we hope that these emotions can be harnessed for social change. This will be a space for rational debate about politics, as well as a place to learn about today’s interrelated issues within gender, sexuality, and race. We want to inform our peers, encourage activism, and above all maintain an open mind.
Caroline (meeerkitten)- 20, majoring in Marketing, minoring in Literature
Josh (imbiez)- 19, majoring in Computer Science.
And with the occasional contribution from Courtney (court-court), also 19 and undeclared at the moment.
We all attend Texas universities. Please don’t hold our state’s reckless conservatism against us!
Please feel free to send us any comments or concerns, and eventually we might take on other contributors, so don’t hesitate to message us with ideas. Thanks for reading!