‘Racial preferences mostly benefit fairly privileged students of color’ who help dispel stereotypes

by Grace

Richard Kahlenberg on current affirmative action policies:

Bottom line:  Race conscious policies consciously discriminate against non-minorities based on their race (regardless of their income), disproportionately help out upper income minorities, and do little/nothing to help lower income minorities– all in the name of achieving “diversity” while simultaneously keeping SAT scores up.   “Equal” protection of the laws?  Give me a break.

Kahlenberg is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank.

Given the evidence for the success of race-neutral alternatives, it’s difficult not to suspect that university officials who defend racial preferences are really after what Stephen Carter has called “racial justice on the cheap.” Racial preferences mostly benefit fairly privileged students of color; 86% of African-Americans at selective colleges were middle or upper class, according to Derek Bok and William Bowen in their book “The Shape of the River.”

Elizabeth Price Foley summarizes the Fisher v. University of Texas case now being argued in the Supreme Court.

… The case comes just a few years after the Supreme Court decided a pair of landmark affirmative action cases involving the University of Michigan.  In the main Michigan case, Grutter v. Bollinger, a deeply divided (5-4) Court upheld the use of race as “one factor” in a “holistic” admissions program with the end goal of creating a “critical mass” of certain minority students in the name of racial “diversity.”

The University of Texas policy being challenged does two things:  (1) It automatically admits, in a race-blind manner, the top 10% of every high school’s graduating class; and (2) for the remaining seats, the University uses the “holistic” approach, in which race is one factor.  The challenger of the law, a white female, asserts that using option 1 (race-neutral “top 10%”) negates the need for using option 2 (race consciousness).  Because, in other words, option1 yields a sufficiently “diverse” student body, why continue to use race at all?

The question before the Court is pretty straightforward:  Once a race-neutral policy is in place that creates a diverse student body, is it consistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to then use race in the name of “diversity”?

Justice Kagan has recused herself from the Fisher case, leaving only 8 Justices to decide.

Upper-class minorities are needed to “help dispel stereotypical assumptions”.

Ann Althouse writes that one of the points made during the current Supreme Court proceedings was that policies of admitting minorities from middle-class or professional families “help dispel stereotypical assumptions…which actually may be reinforced” by minorities admitted by typical affirmative action policies.  As a minority woman who studied and worked in a STEM field, I may have benefited from affirmative action at some point.  After they got to know me, my work colleagues at my first job after college joked about the low expectations they had of me when they learned I was joining their department.  They assumed I was an affirmative action hire who wasn’t quite up to the company’s normal standards.

I don’t doubt that 86% of African-Americans at selective colleges come from higher-income families,  based on what I’ve seen at one university.  Actually,  lower-income students of all races are underrepresented at top universities.

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