In Response to “I Didn’t Get In Because I’m White” (nothing personal)
This blog is in response to “I Didn’t Get In Because I’m White”. First off, I would like to correct you in saying that there were two cases against the University. One was Gratz v Bollinger and the other Grutter V Bollinger. Grutter was about the Law School’s admission program which was designed to achieve a “critical mass” of minority students by requiring admission officials to consider all aspects of an application including whether the applicant was from a historically disadvantaged background. They did not do this for all minorities but it was determined on an individualized basis. The purpose was to determine whether the applicant contributed to the University’s goal of a diverse, well qualified law school class. This is the case that you are referring to in which the Supreme Court upheld the LAW SCHOOL’S admission process declaring that it was in the interest of the states to achieve diversity in their universities but also remedy past and ongoing racism. Justice Ginsberg wrote ” The racial and ethnic groups to which the College accords special consideration historically have been relegated to inferior status by law and social practice; their members continue to face class based discrimination to this day”.
The idea is to give historically disadvantaged students an opportunity to raise themselves out of their situation. By being in a world class University with all of these different opportunities, it allows students, like myself, to be on the same playing field as other non minority students who had access to the resources. Let me also clear something up, when I say historically disadvantaged I mean all minorities, women and low income whites who historically have been discriminated against as well.
The case that was relevant to us as undergraduate students was Gratz v Bollinger, which fought against the University for giving African American, Hispanic, and Native American applicants 20 points out of 100 on their application. The Supreme Court ruled that this form of admission criteria was unconstitutional and violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. I would agree that the point system was unfair and unconstitutional. That being said, the undergraduate program does not use the system anymore because of the Supreme Court rulings.
Also in 2006, Michigan voters approved Proposition 2, prohibiting the use of racial preferences by any state agency including colleges and universities. I refuse to sit here and allow people to think that all of the minorities on campus are here because of Affirmative Action. Even when there was, those students were just as qualified as the non minority students that were here. Those students were able to create opportunities for their children and their community. I remember when Prop 2 passed and my white friends rejoiced. I told them that I bet that I still get in. When I did get in and they didn’t, they really believed that I had taken THEIR spot. No! I and other minorities have EARNED this spot. Whites are no more turned away from the university because of their race than minorities are today.
I am not surprised by the responses of many white students who claim “reverse racism” or that they “feel like a minority”. I would like to warn you that saying I feel like a minority is just as offensive as saying “that’s so ghetto” because it implies that being a minority is the opposite of what everyone wants to be and it assumes that all minorities are disadvantaged and unsuccessful. A lot comes with being a minority besides the educational inequalities and the problem is beyond not getting admitted to Universities. If you truly feel like one, welcome to the club, it doesn’t feel too good does it? But I digress.
The reason I am not surprised is because in Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men Pt. 2, Rousseau argues that inequality began when signs of wealth had been invented and that those who acquired the wealth “ had no sooner known the pleasure of domination, than before long they disdained all others…they thought of nothing but the subjugation and enslavement of their neighbors..” (401). He also said that the selfish pursuit of wealth stifled natural pity and made men “greedy, ambitious, and wicked”. Finally, Rousseau state “regardless of the light in which they tried to place their usurpations, they knew full well that they were established on nothing but a precarious and abusive right, and that having been acquired merely by force, force might take them away from without them having any reason to complain”.
Rousseau can be read in light of historical privilege. Keeping this argument domestically, the U.S. was founded on the basis of freedom and equality. Where inequality was introduced was when citizens gained wealth through industry and as he puts it “inheritances had grown… to the point of covering entire landscape.. .some could no longer be enlarged except at the expense of others”, hence the subjugation and enslavement of their neighbors, who happened to be minorities. One of the reasons for the backlash against giving slaves their freedom was economic reasons. If the slaves were free, who would enlarge the landscape and build wealth for already wealthy slave owners and the United State’s GDP. As Rousseau declared people became greedy, ambitious and wicked and because of that they lacked natural pity for the freedom of others.
Selfishness and the desire to protect privileges is how discrimination in this case was formed. Why would I want to give others rights if it takes away from my personal profit? People are always talking about “pulling one’s self by their own boot straps”. Well, keeping with the boot metaphor, what if the U.S. has historically prevented you from buying boots? Or you have boots just not the boot straps? What if they separated schools by race and gave one better resource but called them “equal”? What if they enacted laws that prevented you from voting, allowing racist policies to be employed for years, adversely affecting your families economic, social and intellectual growth? I am beyond talking about how the institution of slavery set minorities back, that was over 200 years ago. I’m talking about the Era of Disenfranchisement, the Separate but Equal clauses and the Jim Crow laws, things that happened in the 20th century alone.
These laws were what Rousseau would call “force”. He would say that some of those with privilege in the U.S. acquired it “merely by force” or the laws that prevented minorities from having the same freedoms and access. While people recognize their privilege and that it was acquired by force, they are threatened by the idea that another force, that is an Amendment, Supreme Court ruling, or even rebellion, can take away that privilege. I ask everyone, to reevaluate why they feel so strongly against affirmative action laws. If you look more into what they were for, it was not that they were denying white students because they preferred minorities; it was because historically, institutions like the University of Michigan denied minorities and women in favor of white males, causing economic and educational disparities among these groups. Think less aggregately and more in terms of the general will, “what is good for all” instead of “what is just good for me”. It is in the interest of the U.S. to provide equal opportunity and resources to minorities as by 2050, they will no longer constitute the minority and then white citizens will be the minority. If the majority of our citizens are underprivileged, how do you think the U.S. will fair in the long run?
Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men: Pt. 2, (401-402)
Walton and Smith’s American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom 5th Edition (239-240)
For more interesting conversation,check out this CNN article about how Whites feel racially oppressed: http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/12/21/white.persecution/index.html#
Here is more information about the lawsuits against the University of Michigan: http://www.law.duke.edu/publiclaw/supremecourtonline/commentary/gravbol.html
Here is an article from the Michigan Daily about an event that talked about how identity shapes one’s experience at the University of Michigan…(my orgs event): http://www.michigandaily.com/news/black-male-group-heads-emphasizes-u-diversity