When I was a very little girl, back in the hard drinking 1960s, an expression I frequently heard was that someone or something needed a bit of “the hair of the dog that bit you.” I used to think that actually meant people would consume dog hair to cure their ills. It was only later that I learned that one of the best — and, of course, worst — remedies for a hangover is more alcohol. Even as it cures the original hangover, it sets the drinker up for the next hangover. It appears to be a cure, but is merely part of the problem.
I think that exactly the same can be said of affirmative action. Ostensibly meant to provide minorities (read: African Americans) with a necessary leg up in a fundamentally discriminatory culture, it actually creates a situation in which blacks never have to achieve, and therefore never do achieve.
The problem extends beyond the education world, which sees colleges and universities happy to play this nasty little game to assuage their collective white, liberal consciences. For many years, it has been creating actual unemployment in the real world, where businesses that are tied to the bottom line cannot afford to play the same affirmative action game that colleges play so effortlessly. Business, after all, don’t get the government help (read: taxpayer money) that flows to our institutions of higher education.
I mention this now because of two articles that appeared with two days of each other in two bastions of liberal thinking, the Washington Post and the New York Times. The WaPo reports on a study showing that minorities continue to fall behind when it comes to American higher education. First, the problem:
A new report, billed as one of the most comprehensive studies to date of how low-income and minority students fare in college, shows a wide gap in graduation rates at public four-year colleges nationwide and “alarming” disparities in success at community colleges.
The analysis, released Thursday, found that about 45 percent of low-income and underrepresented minority students entering as freshmen in 1999 had received bachelor’s degrees six years later at the colleges studied, compared with 57 percent of other students.
Fewer than one-third of all freshmen entering two-year institutions nationwide attained completion — either through a certificate, an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year college — within four years, according to the research. The success rate was lower, 24 percent, for underrepresented minorities, identified as blacks, Latinos and Native Americans; it was higher, 38 percent, for other students.
Only 7 percent of minority students who entered community colleges received bachelor’s degrees within 10 years.
If it were up to me, the solution would be to demand that minorities who enter American educational institutions have met the same standards as whites and Asians in those same institutions. Only a head-in-the-clouds academic (read: liberal) would think that it is reasonable or fair to tell African Americans that they don’t need to do well in order to enter colleges and universities, only to be surprised that, while actually attending those institutions, these conned minority students continue to do badly. And only a head-in-the-clouds liberal would think that these same students would be able to, or even want to, stick it out at some fou-fou university, when they are pathetically scraping along at the bottom of the class. In the real world, people have to hunger to achieve, they have to work hard, and then they get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Liberals deny that to blacks, and then they’re surprised when these same blacks neither want to nor are able to perform.
Sadly, the government and our educational institutions are run by these head-in-the-cloud liberal academics, so they’re determining the solutions — and, naturally, the solutions they endorse are the hair of the same dog that has been biting African-American students for the past 30 plus years: more affirmative action, which is a disincentive to learning and achieving. The WaPo article, admittedly, is rather coy about the affirmative action solution, but it’s implied between the lines:
The Access to Success Initiative, announced in 2007, predates President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative announced this year, which calls for the United States to regain the global lead in college degrees by 2020. Any progress charted by the 24 college and university systems, which include the University System of Maryland and state university systems in California and New York, will dovetail “very neatly” with the president’s goal, said Haycock, whose organization advocates for disadvantaged students.
One bright spot in the research was the Pell Grant, the federal program to help low-income students through college. The study found that Pell recipients at community colleges completed their studies at a rate of 32 percent, the same as other students. Pell students who transferred to four-year colleges also graduated at the same rate, 60 percent, as other students.
A bill pending in Congress would strengthen the Pell program by raising the maximum grant and tying the program to inflation for the first time.
You got that, right? The solution is to throw more money at institutions that take minorities, not to demand that minorities compete going into the schools, so that they can stick around, and then compete when they come out again.
We Americans have seen for thirty years that more money enriches the politicos and the administration and the unions, without making much difference in the student outcomes. I figured that out back in the late 1980s, when I learned that the Sausalito school district, which is just north of San Francisco, was both the best funded and the worst performing district in California. I don’t know if either of those facts still holds true for Sausalito in 2009, but it was an object lesson to me at that time that there comes a point where a system is so dysfunctional that money becomes irrelevant.
As long as public schools have no accountability to anybody (a situation that would change dramatically if we switched to a voucher system), and as long as the educational and political classes are committed to affirmative action, nothing is going to change at the college and university level. Just as the drunk needs more alcohol to provide the appearance of a temporary cure for a deeper problem, so too do our educational institutions and our poor, deluded African American population demand more money as the solution to a problem that has little to do with money, and everything to do with the subtle racism of low expectations.
Things are different in the business world, and will continue to be so until Barack Obama has successfully “bailed out” the entire capital system, turning the U.S. into a giant, politically correct, bankrupt morass. In the interim, as the New York Times reports, businesses don’t want blacks, even educated ones. The Times report, of course, implies racism, with evil white capitalists anxious to depress “uppity blacks.”
Johnny R. Williams, 30, would appear to be an unlikely person to have to fret about the impact of race on his job search, with companies like JPMorgan Chase and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago on his résumé.
But after graduating from business school last year and not having much success garnering interviews, he decided to retool his résumé, scrubbing it of any details that might tip off his skin color. His membership, for instance, in the African-American business students association? Deleted.
That race remains a serious obstacle in the job market for African-Americans, even those with degrees from respected colleges, may seem to some people a jarring contrast to decades of progress by blacks, culminating in President Obama’s election.
But there is ample evidence that racial inequities remain when it comes to employment. Black joblessness has long far outstripped that of whites. And strikingly, the disparity for the first 10 months of this year, as the recession has dragged on, has been even more pronounced for those with college degrees, compared with those without. Education, it seems, does not level the playing field — in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven.
The discrimination is rarely overt, according to interviews with more than two dozen college-educated black job seekers around the country, many of them out of work for months. Instead, those interviewed told subtler stories, referring to surprised looks and offhand comments, interviews that fell apart almost as soon as they began, and the sudden loss of interest from companies after meetings.
As for me, I reject the Times’ implication that white owned American businesses are trying to sneak Jim Crow in through the back door. Instead, the problem young, educated blacks have in the employment market arises because businesses have figured out that, because blacks aren’t required to have many skills going into universities, they’re equally unlikely to have when they emerge clutching a degree with the politically correct, affirmative action stamp of approval appended to the bottom. In other words, affirmative action has so badly corrupted the “brand name” of the college educated black person, even a person who is intelligent and skilled is tainted by that corruption.
When history books are written, affirmative action is going to be recognized for what it is: a terrible scourge, destroying the upwardly mobile black middle class. As I said in my post accusing Obama of being the quintessential example of affirmative action, in that he is all college papers and no substance, affirmative action tells blacks that they don’t have to work to succeed. That’s a powerful and corrupting message. Even the best and brightest will economize their mental energies and do the bare minimum necessary to get into and get out of colleges and universities. But as the system passes through more and more blacks who are either unable to achieve from the get-go, or unwilling to achieve because they’ve been assured of a free pass regardless, the black brand is going to be associated, as it was in the Jim Crow era, with people who are unintelligent, ineffective and lazy. That this is not true for many graduates, or for many who don’t go to school, is irrelevant. It is enough that the visible blacks have been corrupted by the system for all of them to bear that stigma.
Once again, liberalism, while parading as the blacks’ true friend, is proving itself to be their mortal enemy, destroying them by denying them the incentive and opportunity to be all that they can be.
UPDATE: This seemed the perfect place to add a video of Congressional candidate Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, because he is the wonderful, marvelous antithesis of our affirmative action president: