Last posting November 1996
Note from the publisher:
Thank you for all your letters. Letters appear in this column in the order they arrived (with the most recent at the top of the page). Wherever possible there will be a link to the article referred to in the e-mail.
I want to say thank you for your insights into the structure of American society. I like your inclusive definition of affirmative action as including various programs that benefit different socioeconomic and ethnic groups differently.
I am doing a web page project at the University of Texas at Austin on the rhetoric of affirmative action. Check it out.
On Nov. 12, 1996, I thought of Toni Cade and decided to look her up on the internet and to my great shock I found that she had died last year! I have not been able to stop the sadness and loss that I am feeling since I leaned of her death. I went to high school with Toni and she was a good friend and wonderful person, so outspoken, even then. Over the years, I thought often of her - at odd moments and for no particular reason - as if our lives were meant to have some sort of connection. I was so proud of her works and even bought "Gorilla, My Love" when I saw it in a bookstore. Our lives crossed several times, through mutual friends, although I never saw Toni again after we left high school. (She rushed ahead to graduate 6 months earlier than the rest of our class, so eager was she to get on with her life!) Somehow, I felt happy knowing she was there doing her thing and I really did think fondly about her quite often. I don't know why I'm telling you this because it can't possibly matter to anyone how I am feeling about Toni Cade, except that I must tell someone. I hope that a biography is in the works about this remarkable little lady!
Barbara Burkhardt McGrath
Rambam Medical Center
Haifa 31096 Israel
I agree with you totally. Your message on affirmative action is very good and it should be as widespread as possible.
The biggest problem will be to get Clinton to do something since Tyson is one of his (along with the ever increasing Walmart) main political contributors.
Mi nombre es Belkis Briceño y soy estudiante de educación preescolar del Instituto Tecnológico Monseñor de Talavera en Maracaibo Venezuela. Este e-mail es de mi hermano, pero puede enviarme correspondencia allí. He leído con atención y detenimiento su artículo sobre los mitos de la educación pre-escolar y es facinante ver como algunos padres aún creen en ellos. A nosotros, los maestros se nos ve como alguien que "le tiene a los niños" mientras ellos van a trabajar y al preescolar se le ve como una guardería mas grande.
Es mas difícil en países subdesarrollados donde no exite la posibilidad ni los recursos para modernizar las escuelas. ¿Qué podemos hacer frente a la falta de recursos?
I respect what you and your magazine are trying to do. I am a very large supporter of racial and sex equality. I have written many essays and poems on the subject. Here is one of my most recent works:
Together we stand
There comes to me
a thought that be
not good nor bad
nor one been had.
And I once thought
For it I fought.
But I did not,
For I've been caught.
It once did seem
I did not dream,
Until of course,
I had remorse.
This thought I had,
I realized bad.
This thought would stop
Needs for a cop.
It would put ends
To fashion trends,
To gangs and wars,
And Hallmark Stores.
This thought began,
and with one man
dispersed the bull,
Because all men,
are created equal.
Thank you for your time.
Patrick August Andrew White
Was just playing on the net and found your site. Enjoyed the articles on farm families and areas of the country that are doing something about corprate farming chemical use, water protection, and co-op developments
I'm here in Southern Colorado and have been working over the last few years on small town rural issues. We have recently opened a Cooperative "Ranchers Choice" To process Kosher Beef and supply the natural beef markets. I would be interested to know of other sites that are working in new cooperatives and more specific board members roles and responsibilities.
Thanks for your insightful article "Leverage Lost: Nonprofit Arts in the Post-Ford Era." Your assessment of where things are in the non-profit arts world and where they are going all rings frighteningly true. I feel it will take a high degree of entreprenuerial talent and creative thinking to position arts non-profits for a leaner, healthy future.
Thanks for a good place to start the dialogue.
Intermedia Arts Minnesota is a multidisciplinary center dedicated to engaging the power of the arts in addressing social and human issues and to supporting the work of contemporary artists. Our Mission is to serve as a catalyst that builds understanding among people through art.
We believe that art is essential to and integrated in daily life, and that art has an important and under-recognized role to play in affecting change. Our priorities are to support culturally diverse work by regional artists which is artistically, socially, and politically challenging. We act as a focal point for collaborative efforts between and among artists and organizations.
that Jose Torres Tama is a righteous man... humor & all! keep up the good work... as this is not my computer you can try to send me your ' half off coupons but I will not be here to recieve, but trust in the fact that his words will be spread in my own 'little' ways...
As I read Paul Rockwell's arguements for Affirmative Action about how "white men" were the beneficiaries of preference programs I couldn't help but laugh to myself. First off, Rockwell points out that if you are a veteran you get preferences. What is his point? Veterans served in the armed forces of the United States, protecting our country. Also, not ALL veterans are white males, as, of course, Rockwell assumes. So, are veterans being hypocrites about receiving benefits and opposing affirmative action (AA)? No, because there is no "race" (a category white males have been put in to) that has collectively earned preferences. Veterans have. They have served our country in their lifetimes and should be served in return. Minorities are no longer repressed in society today, so how have they earned preferences? The same tenent goes with seniority (who's to say MINORITIES can't earn seniority?).
Also, I find it particularly offensive that Rockwell once again assumes that all homeowners are white males. Give us a break, already! "Women and minorities, even the poor are helping to pay off your house note.", he says. They are also helping to pay off their own house notes, Mr. Rockwell. Besides, aren't white males also paying taxes? Last time I checked they were still paying their tax dollars to fund welfare recipients who can't support themselves.
"Affirmative action is not unique to people or color.", Rockwell says. Well, yes it is. It SHOULDN'T be, but it is. Yes, the need to help those who are disadvantaged is a basic concept in American society. That is why programs that help those who are FINANCIALLY DISADVANTAGED, not programs that aid a specific race or gender, are needed in America. Why should a rich latino girl with a 2.5 be accepted to college over a white boy living in poverty who has managed to earn a 3.5? Programs like AA are needed, but they need to aid those disadvantaged FINANCIALLY, not racially. If this doesn't make sense to you, Mr. Rockwell, maybe you should join the "Confused White Guys for AA" group.
-Jeff Brunner (Freshman at USC)
My opinion wich will be deleted as quickly as you are able, is that the speaking of spanish is for Mexico and Mexican's not American' in America.In your mag-rag you aid in the disharmony we already encounter by not helping legal immagrant to our country learn our custom's and language.They left there country for our's,for a reason,and we already have our own culture we do not need there help, they need our's.They need to be incorporated as quickly and painlessly as possible.
I am a farmer from South Dakota and am very much looking forward to growing Round-Up Ready Soybeans.
The use of these soybeans means much less pesticide use, not more. Also I wish all those Greenpeace members would get real jobs so that they don't have so much time to bother people who work for a living.
Ronnie Cummins in Minneapolis, of the Pure Food Campaign responds:
Farmers who plant Roundup Ready soybeans are hurting themselves as well as other soybean farmers economically, they are extending their bondage to Monsanto corporate America's chemical treadmill--that is the increasing use of expensive, ultimately ineffective, toxic chemicals on America's farmland--and they are further eroding the trust between family farmers and consumers that must exist if we are ever to see farmers get a fair price for their products and consumers get food like our grandparents took for granted--that is chemically free, healthy, and natural food.
Although the 2-3% of farmers who planted RRS soybeans this year believe that they have saved some money on their herbicide bill, actually they lost (and caused their neighbors to lose) far more money, since the European consumer boycott has already caused US soybean sales to Europe to fall by at least $150 million (and helped drive down the farmgate price for soybeans). And the way things look now there will be almost no US sales to Europe in 1997 if genetically engineered grains continue to be mixed with regular grains--against the wishes of 90% of all consumers. In addition it is just a matter of time until weeds develop resistance to Roundup (as is already happening in Australia) and become superweeds.
At this point US farmers will not only have lost their $2 billion dollar market for soybeans in Europe and Japan and be receiving a lower price for their harvest, but will end up spending even more for their herbicides as well. Finally Roundup is not some harmless chemical. Its active ingredient mixed with its even more toxic inert ingredients have been registered as the third most common cause of pesticide poisoining for farm workers in California and the number one cause in Great Britain. As farmers know there is a cancer epidemic in America's heartland--partly resulting from exposure to chemicals like Roundup, and partly from ingesting contaminated food and drinking water.
80% of all consumers in recent polls say they are sick and tired of herbicide and pesticide residues on the food they feed their families, while 75% are alarmed about the health hazards of genetically engineered foods such as Monsanto's rBGH or Bovine Growth Hormone. Consumers, according to polls, are willing to pay a fair price to family farmers for healthy, natural food--but farmers must be willing to sit down with consumers, look them straight in the eye, and tell them the price they must receive in order to grow food the way we know it all should be grown--with low or no chemical inputs. (From thePure Food Campaign)
Dear In Motion Magazine,
I was searching the web for some information on Affirmative Action for my term paper and I was absolutely fascinated by your web page. As a black hispanic woman I know what it feels like to be discriminated both ways by both the African American people and Hispanic people. I have been looked down upon by my hispanic brothers and sisters for being proud of being black. Most of the people from my country (Dominican Republic) feel that if you are white you are the greatest thing in the world, and if you have the misfortune of being born too dark then you should suffer for it or at least marry someone white so your babies can have a decent color. Most of the people in the Dominican Republic are brown and they are the first ones to be racist against one another. It's pretty scary, but it's true. If you tune into the hispanic channel you will NEVER find black hispanics, unless they are playing the role of a maid. My hispanic friends think that I am strange for loving my dark skin color. Somehow I am not suppossed to love myself for being black. One time my 7-year-old cousin told me that he was not black he was hispanic, trying to erase the ignorance I told him that even if he is hispanic he is still black. Before I could blink he turned around and cried all the way home. Not all hispanics are like this, but there are too many that do think this way. It is a scary type of brainwashing that has been practiced too long.
I have been told by some of my African American brothers and sisters that I am a "red bone" and not black enough for them. Sometimes people will be mean because they think that because I am light skinned that I am stuck up. I don't consider myself a light skinned woman, first I consider myself a daughter of God, then a human being, and then I consider myself a black hispanic woman.
What I am trying to say (and have been trying my whole life to say) is that we should stop the racism. We need to stop the racism within ourselves and with our own people before we can do anything about the discrimination the white people have against us. I have friends from every race you can possibly imagine and when I talk to them I don't see a color or race I see a friend. Life is too short to be hating everyone - before you know it your life will be gone and you'll have wasted it hating instead of loving. Please don't disrespect someone because they aren't "black enough" or don't look like a stereotypical hispanic person. It is wrong and it hurts.
Thank you, In Motion Magazine, for the beautiful articles you have. You have truly inspired me. I can almost bet money that I will get an A+ on my term paper. As far as Affirmative Action is considered, I pray that the government keeps the program for at least the next 100 years. I already have a hard time finding a job, if it weren't for affirmative action we'd probably be back in the 50's all over again. I wasn't born in the 50's but I am sure that I would not want to see "colored bathrooms" and "no ni--ers allowed" signs everywhere.
As I realize that the Navajo miners received the worst treatment of all uranium miners I would like to contact any living Navaho miners that have actually received the so called"compassionate payment" of $100,000 that is provided in 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).
I also wish to contact the qualified miners that have been denied these funds for a comparison of medical proof demanded to receive this payment.
In my case, Dept of Justice repeatedly denied my claim until I was finally able provide definate proof that I exceed every qualifier that was specified in the Uranium Mine Employees Guidebook to receive the "compassionate payment".
I have been diagnosed with silocosis and pulmonary fibrosis as far back as 1950 as shown in army records and I exceeded all time and exposure levels specified.
Dept. of Justice demanded further proof of injuries that I do not believe has been required of other living miners that have recieved this payment.
I had to submit to either a lung biopsy or arterial blood/oxygen test.
I refused the lung biopsy but submitted to the arterial blood/oxygen test but did not qualify for who knows what standards.
Either of these tests provide great risk for blood clots or infections and any invasion of the body can cause cancer and the Guidebook states only that you have had to have been diagnosed with one of several deseases listed.
Has anyone had to submit to these tests or is it just a ploy to cheat injured miners of their rightfull benifits???
Contact me: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Lloyd G. Trail
Please can you help me plug in to what's going on in Black Britain. Your magazine is very helpful on the Americas but I need to know more on the UK.
Send web site suggestions to: email@example.com
I read your article about 'roundup ready' soy beans on the world wide web today, and am dismayed. No sooner have my partner and I started to be vegans than we hear an increased intake of soy products will probably be poisoning us. We'll no doubt turn to organic soy products only, but in the meantime, who knows what we're eating? It sounds terrible for the growers, too.
Dear Ms. Lovelace,
We enjoyed your poem about Toni Bambara in which you praise the work of this great writer. Recently, in English class, we read "Blues 'Aint No Mockin Bird." We learned about the characterization in the story and we want to share our knowledge with you.
One of the characters we learned about was Grandpa. Through Bambara's description of him looking like a king, with large hands, and wearing workboots, it showed that he's a powerful, strong, hardworking man who deserves respect. We also think he is a soft-spoken, gentle, wise man who is protective of his family. We determined this through his speech, apperarnce, actions, and the feelings of the other characters. He is shown to be calm when he exposes the film of the camera instead of trashing the camera.
We think Grandma is an outspoken, aggressive woman who is frustrated with the cameramen, who are described as looking like wolves. She is a strong-willed, protective, sensitive person.
Finally, we come to Cathy, who is playful, enthusiastic, and also moody and inconsiderate. She is also sometimes not likeable, and acts like she knows everything--we see this mostly through her speech and actions.
We read the poem you wrote about Toni Bambara, and we think you're saying the world is broken because of prejudice and racism. We also agree that Toni Bambara's books help to mend the world, because she points out the things that other people can't see.
The Willamina High School Class of 2000
Does anyone have information on the progress of the Big Mountain Alliance?
I know many people in the Sierras who want to support the people of Big Mountain in their struggle against the Peabody Coal Company. Does anyone know the addresss for the Big Mountain Alliance?Thanks.
Send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm a 17 year old first year Uni student from Adelaide Australia. I don't agree with affirmative action, only on the grounds that I believe it would promote more racism within society. For minorities to be treated as equal, it must begin in the elementary years of schooling. If minorities are treated as equal from the beginning of their lives, affirmative action would not be necessary. I believe that we should aim at preventing the problem rather than finding a cure for it.
The paper that you wrote on the advantages of affirmative action was wonderful. I am doing a persuasive speech in my speech/debate class on affirmative action, and i am one of 2 students in my class that are for it. Your insights and beliefs in this will greatly aid in my speech, and i have also learned more about the benefits of it, and what it does for people. Anyway, thanks again.
Y'all make some excellent points. But BE CAREFUL about just how nasty and sarcastic you are, even if the people you're talking about deserve it. You good guy, they bad guy, comprendes tu?
The proposition did in fact pass despite the lies and spins you bastards tried to put on it. Finally we are on the road to a level playing field. It's not surprising that a large population of blacks, hispanics and women don't want to be included in the groups of inferior folks needing the governments help solely based on skin color and gender. You are all pathetic! Poor little victims! Kiss my ass!
As a married white male, Republican, 52, living in Orange County, California, Dr. Noguera would no doubt consider me part of the "opportunity imbalance" problem. His article reflects a fundamental redefining of the historic purpose of affirmative action - to provide a governmental remedy for institutional discrimination.
Affirmative action was rooted in the need to overcome government, not private, sponsored discrimination in employment and education. The policy can be traced to Brown v. Board of Education (Brown I) wherein the U.S. Supreme Court held that separate but equal was not constitutional. Government's refusal to provide an equitable remedy in light of Brown I gave rise to Brown v. Board of Education II wherein the Supreme Court held that it is not enough for government to ban institutional discrimination, it must take "affirmative action" to eliminate it.
Affirmative action was created by the courts, not government, to overcome state sponsored discrimination, not, as Dr. Noguera proffers, to facilitate social equality.
Dr. Noguera, like virtually all liberals, particularly those of color, attempts to equate "equal opportunity" with "equal success". But they are not the same. Government has a duty - both moral and legal - to assure that government not impede the efforts of any person, regardless of race, in achieving his or her goals toward prosperity. That duty does not now, nor has it ever extended to assuring economic success for any person by mandating favoritism or preferences in the absence of proven institutional discrimination toward the particular person.
Despite my demographic status, I came from a very poor, illterate family from Texas, with no appreciation of education. I ran away from home at age 15, but successfuly lived in the back seat of a 1947 Chevrolet, finished high school while working 30 hours a week, served in Viet Nam, earned a B.A. Degree and a law degree. And no one ever - and I mean ever - gave me a thing.
As a school board member, I voted to support affirmative action in our hiring because I sincerely believed that our district had consciously discriminated against minorities. So, I am not opposed to affirmative action, generally. Rather, my opposition extends only to those such as Dr. Noguera who believe that affirmative action should serve as an instrument of social and economic equality, rather than a legal remedy for past state sponsored discrimination.
Thank for the opportunity of expressing myself.
Dr. Pedro Noguera responds:
As a member of the school board it should be obvious to you that even when overt forms of discrimination are eliminated, that poor children and rich children are not provided anything close to an equal education. If you truly believe in meritocracy, should that be based upon access to the very best education for all children especially at the early grades? Many children are less able to compete for jobs and slots at universities due to circumstances beyond their control (i.e. the school they attended was just not very good). In order for the equal opportunity to be more than just rhetoric it must be matched by a commitment to quality education for all. That my friend remains a far-off goal, in fact its not even mentioned as a goal by the advocates of CCRI. How about you? -- Pedro Noguera
Click here for a further response by Dale Hardeman.
I teach a course on Environmental Justice and have found much on your website useful for the course. Thanks.
J. E., West Virginia University.
I accessed your information on Affirmative Action as I now attend a university and needed to compose a term paper on that subject. The material I read was VERY informative and helped my write an "A" paper.
I was touched by your articles and had to let you know. I hope there are more U.S. Americans like you and members of your organization that would come out in support for such an important program that includes and not exclude people of every race and gender.
I wish you and yours well!
I would just like to say that this type of "Harvesting" of animals is repulsive. Myself, as so many others, are meat eaters...however, I find that the complete disregard for the humane treatment of livestock, is not only repulsive, but intolorable.
I just read your article, "Angry White Men for Affirmative Action," and I think you have missed the point. Yes, minorities have been specifically dicriminated against in history. That is wrong. But I didn't do it, my peers didn't do it, my generation didn't do it, and it certainly was not done to the minority generation that lives today. Slavery, black civil rights, Jim Crow, and all of the things that minorities of today complain about are moot because they don't exist today and they were not imposed by whites of today. I'm not naive; I acknowledge that racism is still prevalent today. However, minorities want to have their cake and eat it to. They want society to not judge them because of the color of their skin, yet they support affirmative action, which does just that. "Hire me because I'm black. I may not be nearly as qualified as this other person, who just happens to be white, but hire me anyway because my people have been oppressed and we deserve a break. So what if this is a government job and national security is at stake. I'm black and you have to hire me."
Yes, there are laws that happen to benefit whites, but nothing is stopping a minority from taking advantage of them too. Work hard from a young age, go to college (borrow money if you have to; I did and I'm white), get a job that earns you a living, and buy a home that will give you the tax breaks. Affirmative action as it is practiced today specifically dicriminates against whites. That is wrong. Laws that specifically discriminate against minorities also are wrong. Two wrongs don't make a right, and a person should not get a job that he or she does not deserve.
I think that "In Motion Magazine" is a wonderful tool that can be used to built civil communities in the net and beyond. Great work!!
... I am interested in your work in Spanish. ... I can use Spanish materials in my work. I am also
interested in all that has to do with community organizing (i.e., testimonies, transfering skills, conferences, books, videos, movies, TV programs, etc)... I also think that a very important component is the role of the church (any denomination) in the process of social change.
Que Dios les brinda muchas bendiciones!!
Child Care Coordinating Council
Parent Services Project
San Mateo, California
Although my initial reaction is to be angry when I see racist web pages like yours, I have confidence in myself and I can respond in a logical way. Well, I guess logic doesn't mean much to someone who would support government mandated racism just because it has a politically correct name. You people continue to persist in your efforts to manipulate the American people and feed them propoganda that would lead the vast number of uneducated people to believe they need government programs to protect them. Affirmative action is a morally disgusting program that is demeaning to minorities. It doesn't help them a bit; rather, it FORCES people to look down upon minorities in colleges and workplaces as mere "affirmative action hires". Clarence Thomas, like many other educated Americans, is committed to ending this gross racism because it has been a blow to the black community and to America.
Please find something else to do besides advocating RACISM in America!
Greetings from Switzerland!
You have a very interesting, lovely web page. I'm going to recommend it to several parties around the world immediately.
Michael Boren Williams
I am very interested in this subject, I'm interested in kids. I agree with the analysis of the cause being dysfunctional families-a term well known in the 90's and used far too loosely. I come from a very dysfunctional family. My parents divorced when I was 11 and my brother was 9. Both my brother and I were very rebellious, we've both had encounters with the law, we have both had an uphill battle.
We have been fortunate however, with having counseling and after many years of being misunderstood, finally being somewhat understood and even being sympathized with. Of course our innocence and youth was taken from us and will never be replaced. We are both scarred but know we will both be better parents for what we have been through. Neither one of us have kids presently. My point is this: HOW CAN ANYONE DOUBT THE ABSOLUTE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATED PARENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Search no farther for your answer. I realize we are in mid stream and cannot go back but the focus has to be on parents. There has to be a break in this deadly, heartbreaking pattern. I realize a small percentage of these children may have something chemically wrong, like I said , I am sure that is a small percentage.
The question of whether or not the focus should be on spending money on juvenile detention centers is a very naive question . Of course not. I believe I read that only 6% of the juveniles in the centers had conducted a major act of violence. These kids need guidance and some understanding. The punishment should fit the crime. I'm not saying let cold blooded murders go free, unfortunately these kids are more than likely already lost from us, however the kids with repeat crimes need to be seperated. If you kick someone when they are down they are not getting back up, they can't. Once a child is labeled within society as "bad" it is very hard for him to see himself as any differently. I know I have been there. I could have went either way and like I said, I was fortunate. It's a shame we have white collar workers speaking on such an issue when there is no way in hell they could even remotely know what they are speaking of. They have read text books on other peoples pain and suffering, they have visited these dangerous areas but at the end of the day they go back home to there prestigious neighborhoods and watch the news and shake their heads. We that care about these kids that are ruining their life before it has even begun have to start campainging for them. There have to be more counseling centers, more activities centers, and like you said protection for them in THEIR neighborhoods.
There is a lot happening in South Africa in terms of Affirmative Action at present. Just a bit of biographical info, I am a 29 year old white, English speaking male. I guess I am what you would call an average white male!!! SA has in the past had a system that worked to the benefit of people like myself. We had free schooling, cheap university education, and easy entrance into the professions. The civil service have been up until now almost totally staffed by white people.
There is a huge movement in SA to try get all companies and state departments looking more representative in terms of race and gender. Many companies are just hiring black people so that they can say they have them!! There is a huge shortage of skilled black people, and in some industries black applicants can demand up to 30% more pay!! But there are many positives. For the first time people are getting employed on the basis of merit, and some companies are doing a good job.
The Government has just published draft legislation on Affirm Action. (From the publisher: This is a gopher link to South Africa.) I hope to get a copy of this so called "green paper" and email it to you.
I am not an expert on Affirm Action, so please do not quote me out of context. (From the publisher: this letter is published in full, with permission.) I am a self employed insurance salesman, who has chosen to deal with people who have been hired on AA programmes, so I follow the topic closely. I will try to find out who the SA experts are, and make them aware of your publication. I enjoy your publication a lot, and hope that you keep it up. I also enjoyed your positive stories about AA and gave them to some friends of mine to look at. Unfortunately not too many people in SA are linked to the internet, things still work by fax around here!!
-- Kind Regards
We are only beginning what Americans started years ago.
In South Africa, Affirmative Action is a very new, and sometimes very misunderstood topic.
Do you ever cover my country in your articles, I would love to see the topic broaden!
-- Adrian Jessop
I saw your web site in A. Magazine, and checked it out. I'm glad to see something like this existing, and just wanted to say thank you for caring about such an important issue.
This Article only tells the negative points about PSF. I myself am an employee of PSF and know there are many more positive things this company has brought to these areas than there are negative. I know I am not alone in saying this. How come this article didn't mention the rallies supporting PSF? There were more people at these than the anti-PSF rallies. Before you start criticizing PSF you need to look at the good side of it and all the things it has done for the many struggling communities around this area including the Lincoln Township.
Dear Mr. Rockwell,
I am an Asian-American, recently graduating from UC-Berkeley with a double-major in economics and philosophy. Specifically, my thoughts about affirmative action have been stimulated by my recent application to law school. Thankfully, I was able to matriculate at the University of Chicago, a top 5 school. Yet I have quite earnest doubts (even as a liberal) about the Harvard Law School Admissions Policy, and indeed the Graduate School admissions process, because of the effect of race-based affirmative action.
I was denied admission to Harvard after the admissions committee had spent nearly an entire month beyond their normal application decision-making procedure, because I was such a borderline candidate. I had an LSAT score in the top .5% of all law-school applicants. Frankly, I know that if I had been Latino or African-American, I would automatically have been accepted into Harvard. I mean, really. There were so few with my LSAT score (and my decent GPA of 3.63)with Latino
or African-American backgrounds, that it is absolutely absurd to argue that I would not have been accepted had I displayed either of those ethnic/racial backgrounds.
I do not have any objections to the admission of an economically-disadvantaged African-American or Latino in my place, or even an economically-disadvantaged Asian (chinese) or even a Caucasian.
What bothers me is that an African-American or Latino at my socioeconomic level (I did have significant advantages -- i.e. catholic prep school, etc.)would no doubt have garnered admission merely because of an ascriptive characteristic, that imperfectly predicts real advantage or disadvantage.
I do not claim to actually DESERVE to attend Harvard. But the fact that others may attend who have achieved less academically and who may not have any proof of REAL DISADVANTAGE outside of race (after all, I think the possibility of the future glass ceiling would apply as much to me, as well) is, at minimum, bothersome, and at most, infuriating.
It also seems to me that, de facto, a system that compensated for economic disadvantage would have the effect of giving justified special preferences to a disproportionate number of African-Americans, Latinos, or Hmongs regardless. That seems to be to be justified. We're so concerned with helping those Asians who have not achieved as much economically. That concern is well-placed, and would be supported by a system that looked primarily at economics. Unless, of course, we think poor white kids have a distinct advantage over rich Latino kids.
Additionally, the arguments made about how Affirmative Action doesn't hurt Asians (i.e. that Asian-Americans are admitted to UC at an 87% rate) are laughably simplistic, and I honestly cannot believe that you expect people to be convinced from looking just at that statistic. The reason more Asian applicants get in is that their scores are higher, on average. The people whom Affirmative Action hurts are the Asian applicants with "only" 3.9s and "only" 1200s on the SAT. So race-based affirmative action may not hurt asian-americans as a pool, but there is absolutely incontravertible proof that it hurts individual asian-american applicants for higher education, applicants whose scores are below,for example, chinese-american averages, but at or higher than african-american averages.
I honestly hope that it will be possible to have a serious dialogue about affirmative action, but I doubt it. Although it shouldn't be, it seems like an issue that has become about as debatable as abortion, the death penalty, and the separation between church state. Pity the political process. Or rather, pity the economically underprivileged Chinese kids who go to substandard schools, get corresponding scores, and can't get into Cal.
Daniel T. Ho
I was using the Internet and I ran into your page. I find your comments to be loaded and dishonest in your explaining of affirmative action. I am a minority student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and I feel that you do not understand the flaws in your description of a policy which by and large grants individuals opportunity based on the color of their skin or gender.
It is hard for me to understand how the vocal but outnumbered supporters of preferences can claim that they support equality when in fact they are supporting continued discrimination against minorities. We are not all disadvantaged and many of us are here and at other fine institutions on our merits. We do not need any special help. I speak for myself but polls show that at least one half of african americans oppose this malarchy you call justice. I know that minorities are discriminated against but that is no moral reason to do the same to others. I fear that the supporters of this garbage did not learn from the civil rights movement.
There really are no sound arguments in favor of continuing this program. All that is left for the morally bankrupt civil rights establishment is to try and convince me and other minorities that we cannot possibly succedd unless standards are lowered and we are inferior because white society has treaed that way for so long. The next time a professor at school asks me for the fifth time if I am keeping up with her class I am going to get angry. I am equal with everyone and the law needs to recognize that without racial classifications.
Political science(pre-law) junior
In case you are wondering I am an african american male. I am not a Clarence Thomas wannabe. Just someone who is fed up with people like you trying to tell me and the rest of the country what minorities should feel about affirmative action.
As an arts worker and organizer, I have seen the impact of the arts as a tool to inspire. Youth as well as adults are able to receive messages they would not otherwise accept, Rebuke, correction, or examples they see outside of themselves that mirror themselves. People are able to change and create because the arts open means of expression to those who may not have alternative means of expression before. As an organizer, I love the idea of making everything in my environment better by making its existence and usage more effective. For that reason I organize virtually everything. Please expand on the topic of community organizing of different forms of arts/media.
If you support AA policies, as they are carried out today, maybe you can take a poll and ask all white males who believe as you do to step down and give their jobs and opportunities for promotion to women and people of color (whatever that means) and let those of us who study, sacrifice, and believe in hard work receive what we have strived for.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my concern with the Affirmative Employment of Asian Americans in the Federal Government. For the last 4 years I have been employed by the Department of Defense. Approximately, 2 years of my tenure was spent in the U.S. Army. I was assigned to The 10th Mountain Division; unfortunately, my career was cut short due to a service-connected disability. After graduating from Kansas State University with a dual degree in Business I proceeded to pursue opportunities with the Department of Defense. Needless to say, I have encountered and dealt with issues pertaining to discrimination during my academic and professional career. As a result, I have made a commitment to address the aforementioned issue. During my tenure at Kansas State University I was a charter member of Asian. American. Students. for Inter-cultual. Awareness and served as the Public Relations Officer; in addition, I was a member of the universiy's Racial Ethnic Harmony Week committee. Currently, I am active in the Asian community and I am a member of The Asian Pacific Islander/American Special Emphasis Program at The Defense Finance and Accounting Services-Columbus Center.
From my personal and professional experiences I can empathize with the struggles our future Asian American leaders will face. As an illustration, working with the Equal Opportunity Office at my center I see first hand how Asian Americans are neglected. For example for the last 3 years there have been a conspicous abscence of Asian American employees. Although, I have made signifigant strides in promoting diversity it sometimes seems as if my attempts are in vain. Needless to say, the ramifications of my endeavors have hindered my career; but integrity has a high price. And I am willing to pay that price.
In closing, if I can be of any assistance to anyone please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at Alski@netwalk.com . This axiom best exemplifies my feeling about this cause, " The civil war wasn't won by the majority but the passionate few.
Alvin E. Burzynski
I have just read your "Four Myths of Affirmative Action," and I have a few comments and criticisms. In myth number one, you say that "Ninety-five percent of the students admitted to Berkeley meet or exceed minimum UC requirements . . . . Berkeley has historically chosen from among the full range of the top 12.5%, which includes the overwhelming majority of all admitted minority students." This is indeed very impressive, but in a sense the quote strengthens the argument against affirmative action. The whole point of doing away with affirmative action is acceptance solely upon merit. An event which, if your above quote is correct, already occurs. Whether or not this is because of affirmative action is debatable, but I highly doubt that is the case.
I agree with Regent Connerly's efforts to end affirmative action not only in the UC system, but nation-wide as well. Our culture has changed from the time when wide-spread and outright racism existed in our country. To be sure, racists will always exist in such a nation as ours. I do not think the proponents of affirmative action have arrived at this revelation, for if they have, they would indeed agree that affirmative action has run it's course and is no longer effective. It has entered a point of equilibrium, or some would argue, regression. Affirmative action is making race relations increasingly difficult not only in public life, but around the kitchen table as well. If our goal as a society is to be color blind, then preferential programs are an obstacle to this goal.
My personal feeling is this: When I, a woman, enter the job market, I will demand to be hired solely on the basis of my qualifications. If someone chooses not to hire me because of my gender, then screw them! Why would I want to work for a sexist pig anyway? There are plenty of other people and plenty of other companies that would be willing to hire me because of my qualifications -- not because of my gender.
Hear ye, Hear ye,
Thank you for responding to my inquiry. I now have further requests. (I am taking the lazy way out.) Can you forward me any articles (or their titles, sites, etc.) pertaining to college admissions and aff. action. Specifically, I am looking for responses from Maryland, U. of Cal., and U.of Texas in regard to the decisions, court and otherwise, that directly affects those institutions.
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"You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say,'You are free to compete with all the others,' and still justly believe that you have been completely fair." - Lyndon B. Johnson
I'm currently researching the pro's and con's of affirmative action for my civics debate, and I found your article to be very useful. I also found this quote by Johnson. He might not have said the words, but he thinks the thoughts.
I grew up near Iowa Falls, IA and rode the school bus with Jeff Hansen who now IS Iowa Select Farms. I have watched for years as their hog factories have destroyed a rural neighborhood with smell, water problems and hard feelings between neighbors. Iowa Select is now building a facility miles east of my home in rural Sac county Iowa. The efforts of the neighbors to stop this construction were of no use since the law gives all rights to the "big boys". There has also been
an application by Murphy Farms for a site 2 miles west of our farm.
Thank you for all your articles on the hog situation. They give me information for my letters and conversations, and keep me expressing my opinion to legislators and any one who will listen.
JLFW in Sac County, Iowa
Just wanted to advise you that your site provided some helpful information. Murphy farms is considering coming into the Northwest Oklahoma and the Panhandle which is the area where my parents currently farm. They have been looking for information about this company, and
wondering what rumors are true and which ones are not.
Thanks again for the information, it was a help.
J C, Oklahoma
I have a debate coming up on the 15 of April on affirmative action in my law class and I need some assistance. I am arguing for keeping affirmative action and so far what I have is not enough, and I was wondering if anyone could help me.
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I am a student at St. John's University and I am doing a research paper on the treatment of animals on factory farms vs. those on family farms. I was wondering if you knew of any bills or laws that have been proposed or passed in the last few years. Also, on your web site you had said something about factory farms trying to pass as family farms. Are you saying that there are different regulations for the two different type of farms? I would appreciate any comments you have or any other information you could provide me with. Also, if you could let me know more about measures being taken to correct this problem- such as laws trying to be passed or already passed. Thank you very much for your time and I would be grateful for any information you can provide.
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I was lost, but now I'm found.
Subject: re: Ralph & Myrna interview
I really enjoyed reading what they had to say. I live in Toronto which is as urban as it gets in Canada, but with the shift to the right in our local government many of us have that sense of losing control. Using art as a connecting tissue between politics and everyday life cannot be the only answer but its a great place to start.
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I am a student at Duke University and I found your homepage on the WWW. I am currently researching solutions to Duke's huge use of paper towels in dorm bathrooms. I have heard that one school gives their brown paper towels to hog farmers to use as bedding. Is this feasible? Have you heard of people doing this? This brown paper towels are just used to dry off hands and create a huge waste problem. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time.
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I wonder if there's any way to require that the source of the meat be listed on the package. I don't buy veal because I don't approve of the way the calves are raised. After reading the latest article in Time magazine on corporate hog farms I don't want to buy pork raised there either. It should be a choice by the consumer as to the conditions used to produce their food. I'd be interested in any feedback on this issue.
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I am a graduate student at East Carolina University doing researching regulations on the hog farming industry. I am interested in the ability of local governments to regulate the industry. Any information or comments that could be provided on this subject would be VERY helpful. Thank you.
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I am a student at Loyola University Chicago. I am currently doing a research paper on the topic of Affirmative Action and would appreciate any further information you could supply me. I have been able to get a lot of information from you online and would like to thank you for your help. I am also going to be conducting a survey and will send it to you at a later date so that my team can get a feeling of some of the positive sides of Affirmative Action. Once again, thank you very much.
I hope to hear from you. You can reach me at DDevins@wpo.it.luc.edu
I am a Texas history teacher coaching Lincoln-Douglas debates on Affirmative Action. I have met with amazing resistance to the concept of any sense of responsibility for minority past injustice effects which still linger. Any ideas ?
A reader encourages careful thought on Affirmative Action
(click here to link to this letter)
I am in the process of preparing a thesis on the Effects of MultiCultural Educational Programs @ the Secondary Education level. If you have any comments on this subject, please E-Mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your comments. I would be very interested on your views and experiences about the following:
1. Overall attitude of student body towards existing programs.
2. Positive or Negative effects on Staff agenda
3. Do like people enroll in like courses?
4. Is racism prominent on your Campus?
5. How do you personally feel about Multi Cultural educational programs?
Any other comments you might have on this subject will be greatly appreciated.
Its beautiful to see such heart felt expressions being made by passionate young latinos. The barrio that you speak of resembles the 'hood' I'm from in East Oakland. I think its time for solidarity to come about between black and latino and other youths of third world descent. What do you think?
... I also wanted to respond to Lester Greene's piece on EMS and community health needs in New York City. Truer words were never spoken. I was born and raised in New York. I and my wife have worked in the Bronx and Manhattan. Personally and professionally, we have both seen the desperate need for basic health care. I'm old enough to remember the Bronx's Lincoln Hospital, I mean the OLD Lincoln Hospital. Getting health care there was tough and Lester's right - it's gotten worse with drugs and guns becoming commonplace.
I had hoped that the now-old priority the Clinton administration had given to the health care reform debate would have resulted in some meaningful change for the uninsured and the under-insured. But, God! How pathetic! The whole debate seems like some kind of surreal dream now. Lester's people are left literally picking up the pieces of what's left of our family and our friends. It's not right.
Lester, you tell your colleagues for me that they are NEVER forgotten or unappreciated. Not by me, not by my wife and all the others whose circle of friends and family is larger now because death was cheated by the skill and compassion of your comrades.
I send them wishes of peace, love, validation and the resolve to continue and to continue to spread the word that more help is needed for them and their patients. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.
The following letter from a reader in Chicago kicks off a discussion about the arts and organizing in the community. In Motion is working on several new interviews with artists in different parts of the country that touch on this subject, leading up to the development of a new column in In Motion about the arts. We encourage readers to send in their opinions and ideas.
I am a member of the National Organizer's Alliance (NOA). NOA is an organization whose goal is to foster the development and vocation of organizing. We have had many discussions about the need to expand the critical analysis of our work beyond our peer group. I think the Art's play a critical role in that so I propose a discussion on:
(From In Motion - please see the Art and Social Change section of the Hot Topics menu page. Their are more interviews and articles on the way. Please let us know what you think.
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In Motion moves the mind
it tugs the heart
because it plays a part
in freedom's silent song
Like Paul Revere in cyber-space
In Motion is steady on the case
Points of view from me and you
Bring the conscience morning coffee
It keeps the faith
it's keeping on
because the underdog
for thought not bought
from your pocket book
it maintains the notion
keep your mind in motion
and we'll figure it out
somehow, In Motion.
Very truly yours,
I thoroughly enjoyed it! I was Born in El Barrio (109th Street) and raised in the Bronx. His poem captured the all-at-once feeling of lives peeled bare by the streets. You lived, dreamed, and were jolted back to reality when you were on the Bronx streets that I knew. Thanks for bringing their energy back in your own unique style:
Piri's been there
down those mean streets
carapalo when necessary
but always with soul
Piri's been there
but the saviour held his hand
rice and beans guru of love
that hate never conquered
Piri's been there
down the mean streets
of all our lives
in my heart I carry his message
to those born anew each a.m.
walk tall little brother
walk tall little sister
walk tall or not at all!
Thanks for the chance to comment. Please give my best to my hero, Piri.
Last week, Piri Thomas taught a 17 year old to read. "I don't read" is what he said to me. I said you have 2 weeks to finish this book. Reluctantly, the pages of "Down These Mean Streets" began to turn. By Friday, this displaced Bronx native asked "Can I take this book home?"
I'll be sure to share this poem with my new scholar. My heart felt thanks to Piri.
from Sharon and Zeo
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