Sunday, August 08, 2010

Another Death for Affirmative Action

CA's affirmative action ban has been upheld.

The struggle for affirmative action and what it means holds a special place with me. I was heavily involved in the struggle to defend affirmative action in CA in the early 1990's and it was a struggle that helped radicalize me. I saw all facts distorted, I witnessed the media straight up lie, I saw the discouraging manner in which Whites rejected any solidarity and sided with self-serving privilege, and I felt the sting of confused defeat.

Affirmative action is far far too often framed as a way to have a well rounded ethnic population on university campuses. (A strategy that has backfired when Asian students become majorities at some campuses.) Affirmative action is something much more important and stronger. Only a blind fool and/or servant of racist privilege will suggest that our country doesn't have a history of institutionalized racism. Affirmative action is a tool to continue to dismantle this institutional racism.

If you hold a running marathon and let the White runners get a wide head start before you decide runners of color should be allowed to participate, those White runners have an unfair advantage no matter how close the runners of color get. Even if some runners of color take the lead over some White runners, they should be even further ahead.

Affirmative action is a tool to right this wrong. White people don't like the notion that the privilege they have is unjustified and could/should be stripped of them. I always thought of affirmative action, while perhaps not revolutionary, as what the Black Panthers would have called a "survival" program. It could help us get 'there.'


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