A New Racist Strategy

In 1996, California's voters passed Proposition 209 that outlawed racial quotas for college admission. That didn't mean the end of the quest for racial quotas and the euphemisms for it: affirmative action, diversity and multiculturalism. The diversity lobby has rigged up a new and devious way around the law and court decisions in order to have race-based college admission. They've come up with a policy called "comprehensive review" that could well become college admissions currency across the land.

Last year, Dr. Richard Atkinson, president of the University of California system, called for the elimination of the widely used SAT as an admissions requirement for the system's ten universities. He argued that the SAT is biased against minorities. The SAT is not biased; it accurately predicts a student's class standing at the end of his freshman year. In fact, the SAT over predicts black freshmen standing, a standing higher than that actually achieved. Dr. Atkinson and the diversity gang never point out specific exam questions that are racist or culturally-biased. A typical arithmetic exam question is: "There are 20 packages of bagels on a shelf in a store and each package contains the same number of bagels. If three of these packages contain a total of 18 bagels, how many bagels are there in 7 of these packages? (A) 21, (B) 36, (C) 40, (D) 42 and (E) 49." You might ask what's racist or culturally biased about that question? I don't know but Dr. Atkinson and the diversity gang might argue that it's culturally biased since bagels aren't a staple among blacks and Hispanics.

John Leo, in a U.S. News & World Report (2/18/02) article, "Punching an Unfair Ticket to College," did a bit of research on University of California's comprehensive review admissions policy. University admissions offices will give extra points and consideration to students who have coped with "personal struggle" and "difficult personal and family situations or circumstances." A student's chances for admission will increase if he's overcome a physical handicap, was fired or downsized from a job, born illegitimately, or comes from a family where neither parent went to high school. John Leo says that "unusual family disruption" is also a plus and so are any "unusual medical/emotional problems" on the part of the applicant. That means if your father beats your mother up or abandons her, or you've made a few suicide attempts you're moved up a notch or two over the more academically qualified students who's short on familial pathology.

Comprehensive review is simply an underhanded diversity tactic to evade laws and court rulings against racial quotas. To make use of race-based admissions plausibly deniable the University of California's comprehensive review plan contains a pious statement that it must not be used to promote racial preferences.

This tactic is both disgusting and racially condescending. More blacks and Hispanics will be admitted to the University of California by associating them, not with academic excellence, but with social and psychological pathology and dysfunction. It teaches black youngsters that victimhood is the ticket to college and academic preparation is a side issue. It's a concession that blacks cannot academically compete and to expect them to do so is racism.

I doubt that the architects of "comprehensive review" are racists; they're probably well-meaning leftists. But for fifty years the well-meaning leftist agenda has been able to do to blacks what Jim Crow and harsh discrimination could never have done: family breakdown, illegitimacy and low academic achievement. The University of California's diversity agenda is more of the same. What's worse is that too many black people either go along with it or sit in silence conceding that black youngsters cannot compete academically.

Walter E. Williams
February 25, 2002
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