Blogs > Liberty and Power > Not Black Enough?

Jul 7, 2004 7:35 pm


Not Black Enough?



At the core of the recent legal battle over affirmative action in the U.S. has been an implicit question - what are we trying to accomplish through affirmative action? Are we trying to right the wrongs of history for a group of people from a previously discriminated class of citizens or are we trying to create diversity to enhance schools and workplaces for society today?.

For Clarence Page in today's Chicago Tribune those goals are in direct conflict at Harvard. It seems that their admissions office has been called to task by several prominent black faculty for letting in"too many" immigrant"black" students instead of American"blacks." Of course this is a dirty little secret that universities have tried to keep quiet for years. They've stretched the boundaries of what a"minority" is to fill quotas and reach thresholds since the establishment of these policies in the 1960's.

More interesting to me is the notion that someone who is obviously black isn't really"black." On the surface I guess we aren't righting the wrongs of American discrimination by allowing Africans and Carribean students into American universities - instead we're correcting years of funding Cold War conflicts and perpetuating poverty in these countries. One can make a pretty strong case that anyone who makes it from the third world is probably walked a tougher road than someone from the U.S.

But more importantly if we want diversity to make a difference today, who cares where these folks come from? For students to benefit from a diverse campus that means realizing not only that American"blacks" but also African and Carribean"blacks" are their equals? That to me is the only plausible defense of affirmative action now, but I'm open to being wrong on that point.


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