Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Azeke on affirmative action

Here is my friend Robert Azeke's response to the WSJ Op Ed I sent around recently that critiqued affirmative action at law schools:

I am a big fan of the WSJ -- by far the best paper on the  planet -- but this affirmative action piece reeks of BS.  Affirmative  action is not a constitutional right but a temporary attempt to "right" some  gross historical injusticies-- slavery, jim crow, etc.  I think no one would doubt that there are more black professionals NOW than in the 1950-60-70s and affirmative action clearly contributes to this improvement.  I would love for the author to broaden her time horizon a little and analyze black achievement over the years.  There is too much statistical babble in her article and not enough common sense.

Also, as an affirmative action beneficiary who knows many others, I  have never met one who felt "injured" by being thrown into the proverbial deep end.  I know many who failed, but many also succeeded.  We may not  be succeeding at the rate of our white counterparts, but heck, we have only been at this for 30 years at most!  Give black America some time -- I think we deserve it!   

Furthermore, how do we measure the intangible benefits to society  of having diversity in higher education? For example, America is clearly warming to the idea of a black president.  This is huge!!  This  would not have been possible in a pre-affirmative action world.

Lastly, I would love to see the statistics on "legacy" kids who are  admitted to schools because of family connections, donations  etc.  No one ever analyzes the John F. Kennedy Jr. syndrome or  reality -- which is far more common than people think.  Many legacy kids take 4-5 attempts to pass the bar or choose not to take it at all.  I would argue there are generally  more "legacy" kids accepted per class than affirmative action  kids.

I  learned a great deal from my classmates at Harvard, UNC and Milton who were clearly legacy students and I am sure they are learned a great deal from me.  It is this unquantifiable element of affirmative action that makes it necessary-- for now at least.

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