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An Eclectic Mix: From Affirmative Action to Mali

An Eclectic Mix: From Affirmative Action to Mali

As we await the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action, along with the rest of the higher education community, we decided to use what could be our last edition before the Court delivers a ruling this summer to explore “class-based” or economic affirmative action.

The Bush administration, which has been promoting “race-neutral” admissions policies, since earlier this year when President Bush publicly declared his opposition to the University of Michigan’s plan, saying the policy “amounts to a quota system that unfairly rewards or penalizes prospective students solely on their race,” believes that paying careful attention to the economic background of college applicants could also achieve a diverse student body. Senior writer Ronald Roach explores the pros and cons of class/economic-based affirmative action and gets a variety of opinions from scholars and policy-makers.

And if you don’t think your race matters, your name certainly does. Kendra Hamilton in “What’s in a Name?” takes a look at the highly publicized study released recently that found that résumés with “White-sounding” names were 50 percent more likely than those with “Black-sounding” names to receive a callback. As Kendra reports, the most troubling aspect of the study was that the discrimination effect held true even for candidates with stronger credentials, which surprised even the researchers of the study. It is an encouraging sign that the researchers have found the corporate and human resource community to be receptive to the study and plan to use the findings as a training device to eliminate such biases.

And if you thought Timbuktu was a place of make-believe or just a place people joke about when referring to a far-off land, you should take a trip to the Smithsonian Institution this summer. The West African country of Mali, best known for the city of Timbuktu, will be featured this year at the Smithsonian’s annual Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. In the article “From Timbuktu to Washington, D.C.,” Phaedra Brotherton speaks with co-curator of the Mali program, John W. Franklin, about the festival and the history of this country that has such rich intellectual roots and cultural traditions. Franklin says many African Americans lack the awareness about specific African countries, as well as Mali’s existence. While everyone has heard of Timbuktu, Franklin says, “most don’t know that it’s a real place in Mali.” The Smithsonian and its Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage aim to educate the public about this West African nation through exhibits highlighting architecture, food, crafts, music, jewelry and textiles and much more.

We hope you enjoy this eclectic edition of Black Issues. By now you should have received Part I of the Top 100 Undergraduate Degree Producers edition. Stayed tuned for the next edition, which will list the Top 100 producers of graduate and professional degrees for students of color.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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