"U.S. Supreme Court Sends Affirmative Action Case Back to Texas" by Jackblog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

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U.S. Supreme Court Sends Affirmative Action Case Back to Texas

In a 7-1 decision announced earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule in Fisher v. University of Texas. The plaintiff in the case, Abigail Noel Fisher, sued the university after it did not admit her in 2008. Fisher, who is white, claimed "reverse discrimination" saying that the university admitted less-qualified minority students.

The Supreme Court "threw the case back to the lower courts for further review," CNN reports. "The court affirmed the use of race in the admissions process, but makes it harder for institutions to use such policies to achieve diversity."

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union said the court's opinion accepts "the importance of diversity in higher education, but directed the lower courts to look more carefully at the method by which the university sought to achieve that goal."

The ACLU filed an amicus brief in the case urging the justices to uphold the Texas plan.

"Today's near-unanimous decision leaves intact the important principle that universities have a compelling interest in a diverse student body, and that race can be one factor among many that universities consider in a carefully crafted admissions program," said Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU's Racial Justice Program. "We believe that the University of Texas has made a strong showing that its admissions plan was necessary to achieve meaningful diversity, and that it can and should be upheld under the standard that the Supreme Court announced today."

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson also released a statement about the court's decision:

“Today, the Supreme Court has preserved its commitment to diversity in higher education, and I urge the Texas 5th Circuit Appeals Court to do the same. Without affirmative action, millions of Americans would have been denied the opportunity to pursue an education in our school systems. From this country’s inception, students of racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds have constantly been forced to challenge their rights to an education," Thompson wrote. "I remain a strong proponent of affirmative action and will continue to seek justice for those without a voice.”

Earlier this month, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the court that will rehear the Fisher case, came under fire. A number of civil-rights organizations filed a June 4 complaint against Judge Edith H. Jones of Houston for alleged racial bias evidenced in a speech she delivered at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in February.

In the speech, Jones allegedly said that “racial groups like African Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime,” and that a death sentence was a service to defendants because it allowed them to make peace with God, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/05/us/federal-judge-in-texas-is-accused-of-racial-bias.html?_r=1&">The New York Times reported.

The complaint "says such statements violated the judicial code’s requirement that a judge be impartial and avoid damaging public confidence in the judiciary," the Times reported.

Comments

js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

So how exactly did the ACLU choose which party to support? Ms Fisher was clearly discriminated against, yet they choose not to support her. Race should never be a factor in a college admissions program!

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darryl 7 years, 2 months ago

Bravo, js1976. The only factors that should be deciding college admissions are intellect and ability.

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RonniMott 7 years, 2 months ago

College admissions have NEVER been strictly based on merit. Consider that many kids get into school because their parents attended "back in the day" and their families have the wherewithal to provide big bucks through the alumni association. If you don't think that doesn't happen, I suggest you might look a little deeper.

Affirmative action is a complex issue, so let's not oversimplify. As a society, we can either turn a blind eye to the fact that the playing field is not level, or we can work to level it. If we say we want to provide equal opportunity, we must consider much more than just grades and test scores.

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js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

Ronni, college admissions SHOULD be based strictly on merit. If we say we want to provide equal opportunity, race should not be a variable. Grades, test scores, academic acheivement, etc should be the only qualifications considered by a college admissions board.

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donnaladd 7 years, 2 months ago

That's an absurd statement, js1976, and extremely elitist. So you're saying that young people with less-than-stellar "qualifications" (compared to others in the poll) shouldn't be admitted to college!?! That's crazy. There are many ways to determine potential -- plus college experiences aren't just about how great an applicant is. A good college (or business or anything) seeks out all sorts of diversity to give the students who attend a better, more complete education. Good education is all about interaction.

In addition, this country is built on educational institutions that allow admissions based on all sorts of criteria, including whether someone's daddy went there. We have never looked only at some of pseudo-objective "merit" as the only criteria for getting a higher education. And God help us if we ever do.

I can tell you this: I got the Stennis Scholarship to Mississippi State based on all sorts of things other than the kinds of "merit" you speak up. A big part of it was the fact that I was a young woman from a poor neighborhood who could bring different experiences into the mix. My admission to Columbia University clearly took into account the fact I was southern (geographic diversity) and my very non-Ivy League background, which I wrote about in order to be admitted.

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RonniMott 7 years, 2 months ago

Well, yeah, JS we "should" do a lot of things, but that describe the real world I'm familiar with.

Who "should" decide what the measuring stick for merit is?

Is a football player a better college student because he can catch a ball? Probably not, but star athletes get to go to college when--all other things being equal--others don't.

Is a 4.0 grade average from a Jackson public school better or worse than a 4.0 average from an Ivy League prep school?

Is it more "meritorious" to be class president or to do volunteer work? Or how about a student who is the first in his or her family to graduate from high school versus another raised by professors on staff of the university?

Those are the kinds of questions admission boards look at. The issue is not as simple as grades and test scores. Or skin color.

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tstauffer 7 years, 2 months ago

@js1976 Adding two things to other comments above... specifically about the Fischer case.

First, Ms. Fischer was not "clearly discriminated against"; she was always an interesting case for the Supreme Court to consider because her only claim was that people of color with otherwise very similar qualifications got into t.u. while she did not.

She was not an overwhelmingly outstanding student -- if so, she would have automatically qualified for t.u. by making the top 10% of her class.

Indeed, her case was argued in front of the Supreme Court is such a way that DID NOT emphasize her belief that she would have gotten into t.u. if they didn't have their race-aware policy.

"Fisher’s contention is not that she would have been admitted but for the race-conscious policy, but rather that the Top Ten Percent Law itself generates a “critical mass” of minority students—thus precluding UT from using a race-conscious policy under Grutter v. Bollinger."

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf...">http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf...

In other words, her side's argument was that because t.u. admits the Top Ten Percent of every high school class in Texas and she wasn't in the Top Ten Percent of her class, MAYBE she could have gotten in IF they didn't consider the race of the 12% of students who were admitted outside of the Top Ten Percent system because the Top Ten Percent system, in her estimation, was doing an OK job of getting minority students into t.u.

Second... are you sure there's nothing other than grades and test scores that should be considered for college acceptance? For instance, Fischer argued that, while her SAT wasn't on the high end of the spectrum, she was a member of the orchestra, participated in math contests and had volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. So this isn't the case for arguing pure "merit" in college admissions.

(Note: "t.u." is the Aggie-correct moniker for texas university... which, itself, is never to be capitalized. I apologize for any confusion.)

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js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

Donna, I am firmly convinced if I stated the sky was blue, you would disagree! So instead of wasting my time arguing with you endlessly, we will just leave it at that.

Ronni and Todd, I didn't think it was necessary to list every credential that I believed defined "merit". You will noticed however that I did end my list of qualifications with "etc". One doesn't have to look any further than Merriam Webster to see what I would consider "merit"

c : a praiseworthy quality d : character or conduct deserving reward, honor, or esteem;

The skilled athletes, musicians, or those that volunteer all fall under these two definitions. So no, it's not just grades and test scores.

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js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

Donna, the Stennis requirements must have changed! Considering that they have minimum grade requirements that need to be met and maintained. I guess that don't want those "different experiences" anymore.

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RonniMott 7 years, 2 months ago

So why shouldn't "etcetera" include making up for centuries of oppression, i.e., giving African Americans (and other people of color, including Native Americans, and women) the sh*tty end of every opportunity stick from colonization through Jim Crow and beyond?

I mean, if "merit" extends to the ability to catch a football, why can't it include the concept of reparation for wrongs committed? Why can't it include the fact that one's ancestors were enslaved or were victims of genocide?

That's what I don't get about your "merit" argument, JS. It can only be made from a comfort of the dominant culture picking and choosing what "credentials" fit into your personal definition of meritorious. So yes, you do need to list your qualifications in this case--and explicitly say who you would exclude from the list. Or at least give it more thought than you seem to have done to date.

Affirmative action was enacted primarily because certain American institutions refused to admit people of color (and women, btw). The law basically says, "You refused to do the right thing on your own, so here are the rules." In that way, it's not much different from forcibly integrating other public spaces--because that was the right thing to do as well.

Systemic racism and prejudice has robbed and continues to cheat many Americans of equal opportunity. It's much better than it was 50 years ago, but the problems are far from solved. In all equality markers--wealth/poverty, health, education, employment, imprisonment--people of color are further away from equality today than they have been in decades. And our society keeps pulling the rug out from under policies and institutions that could make a difference--public schools, for example.

When you tell someone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, it's useful to check and see whether they have boots at all. In other words, the playing field remains vastly unequal. Affirmative action policies are just tools in the toolbox to extend opportunities to those who have been historically denied opportunity. It's not perfect (as a matter of fact, the whole concept deserves examination, IMHO), but it has empowered many to make lives they could not have achieved otherwise.

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donnaladd 7 years, 2 months ago

js1976, you must not understand how affirmative action works these days. No one is arguing that a person who can't read or write or make certain grades should be admitted into a situation they clearly can't handle. We're not talking about quotas, which the Supreme Court struck down years ago. Read above: we're talking about someone who wasn't a top student who believes that black students close to her so-called "objective" qualification level got in and she didn't so that was "reverse discrimination" (a phrase that isn't even logical). At worst, that is allowing race to be a factor on a checklist, and there is nothing wrong with that in order to assure diversity, which is an educational bonus to everyone before you even get to the historic discrimination arguments. That's nothing like what you're implying with your weak "merit" argument, which clearly allows subjectivity--just the kind you approve of.

I do find that most people who adamantly oppose affirmative action have no clue what it actually means in today's world or what logic applies to what does exist (which presumably means that you shouldn't get into the programs that you're complaining about, ironically). And anytime you hear someone use the word "quotas" in this context (which you didn't do, to your credit), you know they're clueless about the topic.

As for disagreeing with you because it's you, get over yourself. With your little fake, scaredy-cat screen name, I can't tell you from anyone else on here who doesn't have the balls to post your opinions under your real name. I'm responding to your arguments, which are particularly weak today because you clearly don't understand the subject very well. You could remedy that if you would.

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donnaladd 7 years, 2 months ago

And when I have a few more minutes, I will explain to you why government-run universities have an obligation to attempt to make up for years of discrimination against non-whites, women, etc., because the discrimination was, in effect, social engineering that has affected entire communities and their ability to achieve parity and wealth. In other words, affirmative action (done in a smart way, such as allowing race, gender, etc., as one factor among others) is very good for our society because it helps level the playing field as well as bring more wealth into communities that were robbed of it by the government. When done well, it doesn't "discriminate" (which this case didn't seem to) because it essentially falls into the more subjective scrutiny zone that affects every application. It is certainly no worse than giving the child of an alumnus preferable treatment, and there are more important reasons to allow it.

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donnaladd 7 years, 2 months ago

(Sorry, js1976, I shouldn't have picked on your balls; that was rude. But why make it personal to begin with? Just make your arguments and support them. And I could take you more seriously if you used your real name. Same with everyone.)

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darryl 7 years, 2 months ago

Donna, you wrote earlier, "That's an absurd statement, js1976, and extremely elitist. So you're saying that young people with less-than-stellar "qualifications" (compared to others in the poll) shouldn't be admitted to college!?!" He maybe didn't say it, but I will. Yes, if that person's qualifications pale in comparison to someone else, then they shouldn't be admitted. Not everyone who graduates high school (JPS or St. Andrews or Dallas Country Day) deserve to go to college. It is a privilege that should be earned. Yes, Ronni and Donna, there are those whose parents "paid" little Johnny's way into Harvard. In an ideal world, he would've been summarily rejected.

The point being (all off-topic rhetoric above, aside) is that to preferentially pick students based on factors not of the student's choice (age, sex, ethnicity) is inherently wrong and prejudicial. Did little miss-what's-her-name deserve to get into UT? Maybe, maybe not. Did others get admitted over her for non-academic reasons? If so, then SCOTUS handed down the correct opinion.

And, can we please stop the "reparations" argument? Everyone, at some point, has been harmed by unfair practices either individually or as a group. "I didn't get into Moo U because I'm (insert race, age, sex, SAT, blah blah)." Boo Hoo! Not every department store carries the brand of boxers I prefer. I find another store. It's not unfair - it's life.

Oh, and I look forward to Donna's oration and just what obligation a government-run university has to "...attempt to make up for years of discrimination against non-whites, women, etc., because the discrimination was, in effect, social engineering that has affected entire communities and their ability to achieve parity and wealth." As my east Mississippi ancestors would say, "that's a fer (spelling to the best of my aural approximation) stretch."

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WillieOsi 7 years, 2 months ago

And, can we please stop the "reparations" argument? Everyone, at some point, has been harmed by unfair practices either individually or as a group. "I didn't get into Moo U because I'm (insert race, age, sex, SAT, blah blah)." Boo Hoo! Not every department store carries the brand of boxers I prefer. I find another store. It's not unfair - it's life.

This line of thinking/reasoning is EXACTLY why the "reparations" argument is relevant and should continue. The fact that you conveniently equate the effects of centuries of chattel slavery, subsequent peonage, and state sponsored terrorism in this country to the inconvenience not being able to get a pair of Hanes at your local Wal-Mart is absurd beyond belief. I would laugh at this notion, except for the fact that I suspect that you're dead serious and actually believe this nonsense.

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darryl 7 years, 2 months ago

WillieOsi, what exactly would you like to see "reparations" achieve? They won't make certain peoples more equal or less inferior or more superior. State-sponsored terrorism? Hardly. To consider that peonage continues because of the actions of a government that ended ~150 years ago is ludicrous. How much do you want? What is it that you want? To take and take and take without appropriate merit from those who have achieved based on merit is insanity.

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js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

" With your little fake, scaredy-cat screen name, I can't tell you from anyone else on here who doesn't have the balls to post your opinions under your real name."

Donna, I have no problem posting my name, but I'm not sure what good it will do. I was cursed with the most common name imaginable, James Smith!

"But why make it personal to begin with?"

I don't recall ever attacking you personally.

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js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

Sorry Ronni, I don't buy into the idea of "reparations", nor will I ever. So the color of ones skin, religious affiliation, gender, or sexual preference should not be a consideration of a college admissions board! Since you are asking me to list what qualifications I would exclude, now you know. However, I will also state that none of these should ever be used to disqualify a prospective student either.

Since you want to discuss "bootstraps", and Donna apparently wants more personal information on me, I'll share some background. I was one of those young adults without a pair of boots. From the looks of the discussion though I'm sure you will argue that the color of my skin qualified as a pair. I grew up with little money in South Jackson, and dropped out of high school my junior year. After busting my @ss hanging sheetrock, I came to the realization that it wasn't the life for me. Did I whine and complain, no! I got a GED, started going to Juco, obtained and ACT scholarship, obtained a partial academic transfer scholarship, transferred to USM, and almost graduated with honors.

Life isn't all sunshine and rainbows for everyone! If you want something, you earn it. So spare me the "level playing field" nonsense. I ran uphill most of the way.

James Smith

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donnaladd 7 years, 2 months ago

James (which I knew already), you made it personal when you backed away from the conversation and accused me of disagreeing with anything you say just because it's you--which is ridiculous and rather self-focused. My arguments never change in order to one-up someone. What a waste of time.

As for "reparations": just like "affirmative action," most white people never bother to research the myriad of things that could be considered "reparations." It is simply a way for the government to repair harm it's done. Many scared whites think it's all about taking their stuff away and giving it to someone, anyone else of another group. No, not when done intelligently.

One way for the government to repair literally centuries of government discrimination against non-whites is to make sure that their children have access to educational and other institutions that they won't otherwise due to long-time effects of institutional racism. No, they does not mean, as some of you wrongly think, that any student of color gets in anywhere regardless of "merit," grades, etc. It means that in situations where a variety of factors are considered, including subjective ones (which is nearly always the case), that it is cool and actually good to consider status such as race as one of the factors. Why? Because for many, many decades, the same institutions and government discriminated against those kids' parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, ensuring that they could not achieve the same "merit," wealth, property, jobs, etc. that white people can. We as whites (yes, even those of us who started out poor benefit from this privilege); as a result, we must be part of the solutions that make the playing field more level. When it's truly level, then these programs will phase out. But we're not there yet by any means.

Reparations also means investing in cities and neighborhoods and schools that the government itself (along with the business community) decimated due to discrimination, redlining, urban "renewal," less investment than in white communities, etc. This is just necessary, and it is the only right thing to do. It's not about writing checks to individual people (duh), or letting anyone into a college or a job no matter what; it's about intelligent leveling of the playing field.

And until our society (including whites like you) have the will to do that, you might as not whine about crime and the other results of this historic unlevel playing field. If you want it fixed for our generation and those that follow, you've got to participate in the solution, which benefits us all. If you were a member of a historically discriminated class, you would be demanding the same thing. I urge you to try to envision yourself in someone else's shoes.

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SusanM 7 years, 2 months ago

Since no one is trying to get rid of any non-academic criteria except race, the whole thing reeks. I don't hear anyone protesting that they were denied a spot because a much less qualified "legacy" student was admitted, but that happens every single day. It's built into the application form at selective colleges ("Did any of your relatives attend this school?")

My son and daughter-in-law are, like Donna, Columbia graduates, which means any children of theirs wanting to attend Columbia will have a tremendous advantage, even to the point of taking a spot that would otherwise have gone to a more qualified student.

It also doesn't work to say admissions should be solely based on "merit," since there is not a clear, generally agreed definition of "merit." I don't believe participation in athletics, for example, should be given special consideration in college admissions. Isn't higher education supposed to be about academics? Let all these athletes try out for the pros instead of using colleges as a minor league for pro football and basketball teams. Just imagine the screams of protest if I won that fight.

Singling out race for exclusion, which is just as legitimate a consideration as the myriad other factors, doesn't do a thing toward creating a system based solely on "merit." It just further disadvantages a specific group.

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donnaladd 7 years, 2 months ago

Your story is admirable, but what you're not understanding is that it would have been much harder had you not been white. And the truth is that once you did all that, you are still more likely to go farther in life because of discrimination in hiring, etc.

I urge you you to read through http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/...">our package this week on race dialogue. I particularly recommend this piece/quiz: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/...">What Is White Privilege?

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darryl 7 years, 2 months ago

Donna said, "I urge you to try to envision yourself in someone else's shoes."

Hypothetical arguments are useless in these situations. All you end up doing is poorly approximating based on your own reference points of reality.

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donnaladd 7 years, 2 months ago

B.S., Darryl. All y'all are presenting are hypothetical arguments. You're not even bothering to delve into facts, either about affirmative action or history. All I'm hearing is white-guy angst over the thought that someone might try to take something about from you and give it to a person of color.

And that's not even what's happening. With due respect, grow up and learn some empathy (not sympathy). That's what envisioning yourself in someone else's shoes (or without shoes or bootstraps) is all about. It's attitudes like all of yours that have us in this terribly unequal place. You're spouting classic privileged white memes, and have no desire to change it. You prove that when you make fun of the basic (and rather biblical) idea of picturing yourself in someone else's shoes. I feel sorry for you and your closed and selfish world views.

Not to mention, scoffing at the idea that you might picture yourself in the shoes of someone unlike yourself is textbook white privilege.

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donnaladd 7 years, 2 months ago

And fortunately, younger generations think completely different from you guys over all (with exceptions that are proving more irrelevant by the day). There is so much hope and change on the way that it makes me giddy. We're going to get to the promised land together.

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darryl 7 years, 2 months ago

Putting yourself in someone's shoes is a literal hypothetical argument and is not BS as you so eloquently describe. Empathy and sympathy are merely constructs. I can be empathic all damned day and sympathetic to your plight - it doesn't change one damn thing. You are still in your plight and I am not.

I feel sorry for you and your closed and selfish world views.

Whatevah! Hope, change giddy-up!

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js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

"Your story is admirable, but what you're not understanding is that it would have been much harder had you not been white."

I figured that was coming! It was my "white privledge", not my determination.

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tstauffer 7 years, 2 months ago

Putting yourself in someone's shoes is a literal hypothetical argument and is not BS as you so eloquently describe. Empathy and sympathy are merely constructs. I can be empathic all damned day and sympathetic to your plight - it doesn't change one damn thing.

Except your attitude? Your willingness to help others? To work with others? Make the world a better place? Take a little responsibility for the people around you?

Reminds me of this piece:

http://www.salon.com/2013/06/23/chris...">http://www.salon.com/2013/06/23/chris...

Who is John Galt?

John Galt (as written in said novel) is a deeply flawed, sociopathic ideal of the perfect human. John Galt does not recognize the societal structure surrounding him that allows him to exist. John Galt, to be frank, is a turd.

However, John Galt is also very close to greatness. The only thing he is missing, the only thing Ayn Rand forgot to take into account when writing “Atlas Shrugged,” is empathy.

John Galt talks about intelligence and education without discussing who will pay for the schools, who will teach the teachers. John Galt has no thought for his children, or their children, or what kind of world they will have to occupy when the mines run out and the streams dry up. John Galt expects an army to protect him but has no concern about how it’s funded or staffed. John Galt spends his time in a valley where no disasters occur, no accidents happen, and no real life takes place.

John Galt lives in a giant fantasy that’s no different from an idealistic communist paradise or an anarchist’s playground or a capitalist utopia. His world is flat and two-dimensional. His world is not real, and that is the huge, glaring flaw with objectivism.

John Galt does not live in reality.

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RonniMott 7 years, 2 months ago

Wow, JS, it's frightening how narrow your responses are on this thread. Do you not see any shades of gray?

By your "merit" definition, no one under any circumstance, regardless of hardship, color of skin, gender, etc., would ever get a break from you--and by extension, society--at all, ever. By the same token, no wrongdoing warrants any kind of reparation, regardless of the heinousness of the "crime." You didn't get a break, so screw everyone else.

End of conversation.

So, for example, the people Mississippi wrongly imprisoned for decades (some despite all evidence pointing to their innocence) shouldn't get anything for the lost years of their lives, right? F**k 'em. Let up claw their own way up the hill. That seems to be your attitude.

Is it really that difficult to understand that regardless of the amount of determination you have, that being a white male gives you a better shot at success than, say, being a black woman? Really?

The only way that belittles your accomplishments is if you see every opportunity as a zero-sum proposition--which they are not. Someone else's accomplishments aren't a judgment on yours, neither does one preclude the other. Be happy and satisfied with what you've done, absolutely. But please, don't let that stop you from reaching a hand to others who may need it.

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darryl 7 years, 2 months ago

Todd, you quote salon.com? Really? All of her characters are grotesquely flawed. Without near hyperbole to magnify the strengths and weaknesses of her arguments, the vast majority of readers wouldn't be able to grasp her points, me included. Ronni's last paragraph looks like something John Galt said during his monologue, by the way!

Who says I don't do my share to make the world a better place or that I'm unwilling to help others? My attitude? Hmm... I don't grok that. You may infer my views on certain points but not my attitude on anything, I'm afraid.

Back to the reparations meme that Ronni and Donna are touting, how much more level does the playing field have to get to make y'all satisfied? Are not the educational opportunities accessible to all? If we keep giving extra legs up for various groups, how long until we say, "Enough! It's time for you to do it on your own." Sorry. I was raised and educated post-1965. If anything, this continued coddling has deepened the educational divide. I'm sure all of your achievements are more thoroughly enjoyed as a result of your own hard work and not because they were handed to you.

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js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

Ronni, the wrongfully imprisoned is a terrible example. If we used your line of reasoning, the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren would all be owed reparations from the state due to the wrongful conviction of their ancestor. For the record, the state should spare no expense correcting the wrongs commited against that individual.

Answer this for me, what message do you honestly think you are conveying to a young person by insisting that they need a "break"? Do you not think that you are telling them they are inferior and cannot achieve success without the helping hand of people such as yourself?

The problem with conversing like this is, you don't actually get a true understanding of the others message. I see shades of gray in all facets of life, and by no means do I think anything will ever belittle my acomplishments. I do however feel that by lending too many hands, many do not understand the true value of what they have. If you don't agree, go speak to people in goverment housing and tell me how many truly appreciate what they have. Some may, but for the majority will not because it's not something they earned.

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RonniMott 7 years, 2 months ago

JS, reparations for the wrongfully imprisoned is only a terrible example if you have a narrow view of what reparations are. I've never said that we "owe" anyone's ancestors cash in perpetuity; however, paying someone to rebuild a life stolen by wrongful imprisonment is appropriate.

Donna pretty clearly explained how I think of reparations up thread: "It is simply a way for the government to repair harm it's done. ... Reparations also means investing in cities and neighborhoods and schools that the government itself (along with the business community) decimated due to discrimination, redlining, urban "renewal," less investment than in white communities, etc."

Bottom line for me on the reparations conversation is that they come in many forms and in many sizes. They are not "one size fits all" solutions.

I also see a distinct difference between a "hand out" and a "hand up." Free handouts may provide a short-term solution to a problem, but rarely bring long-term relief. As you alluded, handouts often create antagonism for both the giver and the receiver: the giver because they eventually resent having to give and give and give while seeing (naturally) diminished returns; the receiver because they eventually will see themselves as "charity cases," without any intrinsic worth (thus the handout has no worth) and as "less than" the givers. The givers eventually see themselves as better than the receivers, too.

That's a classic "hero with good intentions" scenario so often portrayed in books and films such as "Mississippi Burning" and "The Help," with their white heroes swooping in to save black people (who can't do it for themselves, obviously). "Handout" thinking is why just throwing money at a problem rarely works.

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RonniMott 7 years, 2 months ago

MORE: Clearly, JS, your "government housing" example is a horrible failure of a "hand out" system. In most cases, it amounts to little more than warehousing of "undesirables" in parts of town the "givers" don't really want to live in anyway. "Urban renewal" programs of that kind helped rip the heart out of many thriving minority communities, isolating people from the larger community and stigmatizing them as unworthy of anything better.

In contrast, a "hand up" provides empowerment to allow the recipient to accomplish something through their own sweat and blood, thus infusing the end result--and the recipient--with worth and pride. I see Habitat for Humanity in that category; people have to work to build the house they'll eventually live in. Knowing what it takes to build a house, recipients (who are carefully vetted and must also make regular mortgage payments; the houses aren't "free") are much more inclined to care for their property and make improvements.

I put affirmative action into the "hand up" category. It doesn't guarantee anything--not scholarships, not getting into a preferred college, not good grades, and certainly not a degree or a job after graduation. Beyond giving a student a hand to get into a school, all of the other accomplishments must be worked for and accomplished by the student. And as nearly anyone who has earned a college degree knows, it's not a walk in park. Unless you can throw a football ;-)

Again, I'm not saying that it's a perfect solution (or reparation) for systemic racism, but it does allow some disadvantaged individuals a modicum of a boost.

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js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

Ronni, regardless if I disagree with Affirmative Action, I wil agree that it is not a hand out.

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Knowledge06 7 years, 2 months ago

As much as js1976 wants to think its so, admissions to colleges have never been just based on merit. MANY schools have legacy policies that guarantee certain students will be accepted regardless of their qualifications. Merit seems only to be applicable, for people like js1976, when it comes to a person of color attempting to receive equal opportunities. This country has taken advantage of people of color and people like js1976 have been the beneficiaries. Most government programs that are railed against by those like js1976 because they benefit minorities today, benefited your parents and grandparents in the past. Look up the origins of AFDC, Homestead Act, Affirmative Action (and the inclusion of white women as a minority),etc. I understand that you want to keep your Privilege but you and countless others were assisted and helped and continue to receive those benefits. At some point you will come down from your hill and realize that you are a hypocrite and that denying others opportunities is simply selfish!

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js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

Well knowledge, if you would go back and read my posts, I never stated that college admissions are based on merit. I stated that they should, and I still stand by that statement. Nice try though!

I also never stated that anyone should be denied anything, but argue the fact that the color of your skin should be used as an admission criteria for higher education. A true hypocrite is someone like yourself that believes someone shouldn't be discriminated against because of race, but ask for help because of their racial makeup.

Since you began your statement with a complelety false allegation, I wasn't surprised to see the rest of your comment filled with non-sense as well.

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Knowledge06 7 years, 2 months ago

js1976, you are speaking theory. I'm speaking actual practice. If a group has been systematically discriminated against to the material benefit of those doing the discriminating, then they SHOULD be afforded remedies whether YOU think so or not. If the things were as they SHOULD be and people did what SHOULD be done then it wouldn't be necessary to have ANY remedies for these situations.

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js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

"If the things were as they SHOULD be and people did what SHOULD be done then it wouldn't be necessary to have ANY remedies for these situations."

Force the institutions admit students based on actual qualifications instead of forcing them to include crtieria such as race, ethnic origin, etc. That's what SHOULD be done, and I strongly believe that's the direction we are headed! I may be speaking in theory, because your actual practice is flawed.

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