In deciding to challenge race-based affirmative action programs the Trump administration has laid out his view of the future – his claim that white people are being discriminated against. Therefore, and Trump will do to affirmative action what Lincoln did for slavery or so the said – end it. This country has always denied black people anything that would elevate them as human beings. Just remember there was a time in history when reading would be a death sentence!
It will be very tempting for those of us on the left side of the political spectrum to say this is just one more example of Trump beating up on minorities, like the ban on immigration from a number of predominantly Muslim countries, or the ban on transgender people serving in the military, or the administration’s support of state voter suppression laws.
It is important to know that first; they raised the price of college tuition to keep black and other people of color out of institutions of higher learning which was just to make college unaffordable. So like Obama care, these bigots will revisit this issue again. But there is an important fault line that divides anti-discriminatory measure – they now are claiming that white folk is being discriminated against!
A 2016 Gallup Poll found that 63% of Americans believe that colleges should not consider race even as a minor factor in admissions decisions. In a 2017 Harvard Institute of Politics poll, only 19% of young people approved of giving qualified minorities special preference in hiring and education. Frankly, they should be staunchly pro-diversity; colleges are better when they have students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds and they should champion policies that are more inclusive of disadvantaged students of all races than many current programs are.
Their goal is to take black people back to a segregated society – yes that means Jim Crow! The danger for liberals in defending explicit racial preferences is that that fits neatly into Trump’s argument that the system is rigged.
If ever there were an unfair system, it is the admissions apparatus of selective colleges. Bowen’s research found that alongside racial preferences, recruited athletes receive a 30-percentage-point boost. The children of alumni receive a 20-percentage-point boost.
Low-income students, by contrast, get no preference whatsoever. As a result, those from the richest economic quartile outnumber those from the bottom quarter by 24 to 1 at most selective colleges. At several selective colleges, as many students come from the top 1% of the income distribution as from the bottom 60%.
Progressives should champion a system that eliminates unfair preferences of all kinds, including those for legacy students. Legacy preferences aid the already advantaged and do not, in fact, increase alumni giving. But it’s not enough to point to hypocrisy on the right about legacies; racial preferences should also be transformed to help economically disadvantaged students of all races.
This is an idea the Democratic Presidents have flirted with, but never had the guts to follow through on. In 1995, Bill Clinton briefly called for shifting the basis of affirmative action to economic need. In 2007, Barack Obama said that his own privileged daughters did not deserve a preference in college admissions.
The fact is education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…