Monday, March 25, 2013

The controversy over affirmative action in college admissions comes down to...

Our old problem of race vs. class in the United States. Specifically, after the '70s we became very aware of addressing racial disparities through programs like Affirmative Action, but this was based on the false idea that class disparities had been corrected in America through our (temporary) economic prosperity. The '60s to the early '70s were the "Golden Age" of the U.S. economy, a time when people thought that there were only "pockets of poverty" left that had to do with things such as racial discrimination that weren't the immediate result of capitalism. But, such was not the case, and when the class divides started to show up from the mid '70s on, it started to strike a lot of folks as hypocritical that Affirmative Action programs for college admissions were in place to help racial minorities while aid to the poor either stagnated or decreased.

One theory of Affirmative Action in college admissions is that if the person denied admission is white they can surely get into another college somewhere else, whereas the same isn't the case if the person is one of color, but this is not always the case. In fact, it trades on the notion that people who aren't people of color have a uniform amount of privilege, which is false.

The solution is to help people both in a class based way and in a race based way, to eliminate the potential for competition or conflict by just generally helping those who because of their condition face extra obstacles in getting into and staying in college, as opposed to destroying all of the programs because as they're implemented they're imperfect.

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