The affirmative action op-eds are starting to appear. Both the pro and the con. And there’s this sense of déjà vu. Yes, as that pre-hip hop group, Crosby, Stills and Nash, once sang, “We have all been here before.”
You don’t even have to go back to the 60’s and the Bakke decision. You can just roll it back a few years to Fisher.
We’ve been through all the arguments, especially that dreaded mismatch idea.
That’s where anti-affirmative action advocates blame students of color for not being able to handle the gift of opportunity at prestigious colleges. They just weren’t prepared, those poor minority students. They should be with their own kind, right?
You’ll see that line of attack gussied up for legal, but it’s a bogus argument.
The only mismatch was among the colleges, between what they did for recipients and in the lack of commitment to seeing the recipients succeed.
Any commitment hardly perceptible at all. Most programs were going through the motions.
For students, affirmative action ended up being “sink or swim,” and far more Darwinian than a gesture of benevolence or equal opportunity.
That lackluster commitment of colleges and universities to a real affirmative action – that went both ways between student and university – is what has separated the good programs from the failed ones.
What were an institution’s actions and its commitment to success? That’s the mismatch that debunks the prevailing mismatch theory.
So, here’s where we are today.
Quotas are illegal, but race can be used in the admissions process. But now, even the Justice Department thinks that’s too broad and wants to do away with race altogether, judging by its recent actions of omitting the Obama-era guidelines.
Both the Justice Department and the Department of Education have set up the Supreme Court to do the deed in that controversial upcoming case against Harvard, which uses Asians as pawns to fight the White man’s quest: to eliminate race in admissions and preserve the White status quo.
We’ll see if anti-affirmative action advocates get away with their ploy of manipulating a small group of elite Asian Americans to rewrite the current law.
A Trump conservative court does not bode well.
But there is one hopeful sign.
UC Berkeley’s blind diversity
It summertime and aside from the email from the student who wants a better grade, you may have missed a few things.
Like maybe you missed that the University of California offered admission to nearly 137,000 students, including a record number of transfers applicants.
Buried in the press release was this relevant news nugget: “Among freshman applicants, Asian American students remained the largest ethnic group admitted at 36 percent, followed by Latinos at 33 percent, whites at 22 percent and African Americans at 5 percent. American Indians, Pacific Islanders and applicants who did not report a race or ethnicity made up the remainder of admitted students.”
The significance is affirmative action was done away with in public education in California when the state voted for Proposition 209 in 1996.
The university has had to do things color-blind since then, so compare the aforementioned numbers with how the state looks based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 numbers: Hispanics-Latinos, 38.8 percent; non-Hispanic Whites, 38 percent; Asians, 14.7 percent; African-American, 6.5 percent; Native Americans, 1.7 percent; Pacific Islanders, .5 percent and mixed-race, 3.8 percent.
A quick glance will show that blind admissions is far from perfect.
Asian Americans are still overrepresented; Latinos are close to equity. Non-Hispanic Whites are underrepresented. African-Americans are slightly overrepresented, though still low in real numbers. That’s California.
Mind you, quotas are illegal under the law. And I doubt if the court does away with race that they will make quotas legal.
But look at how the state that has the highest number of Asians and Hispanics in the nation does with a blind system.
It’s not much different from the best existing programs out there. In other words, there’s not much need to change.
And color-blind admissions aren’t to be feared, necessarily – there’s still a semblance of diversity.
What the problem is, it still may not be enough for those on the anti-affirmative action side. It certainly is far from perfect for Whites, as even color-blind admissions do not preserve a White majority.
And maybe that’s the message we should get across to anti-affirmative action types as we gird up for the fight.
If the goal is to fight the trend of diversity in our nation, stop now. You can’t do it. And blind admissions and appropriating Martin Luther King’s words aren’t going to make you appear to be pure of heart.
Take a look at UC’s numbers. Diversity is here to stay.
Emil Guillermo is a veteran journalist and commentator.