After uniting with Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Betsy DeVos to form the Trump administration’s version of the Caucasian Avengers, Jeff Sessions has directed his efforts toward uplifting a class of people who have long been ignored by the American educational system: white people.
According to documents obtained by the New York Times, the attorney general and Squidward doppelgänger has directed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to look into the “intentional race-based discrimination” posed by affirmative action programs at colleges and universities across the country. Justice Department insiders say the project will target admissions programs that give priority to students in minority and traditionally disadvantaged groups.
Think about that for a minute.
The country’s chief law-enforcement official presumably looked at every inequity in America—including income inequality, the gender pay gap, police brutality and the plight of the millions of poor puppies who spend every day in fear knowing that they’ll be forced by their Caucasian owners to kiss them in the mouth—and instead of fixing any of those problems, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions came to this conclusion:
“You know what would make America great again? Fewer darkies in college.”
We all know why he did this. I bet you think I’m going to say something like “white supremacy” or “the ‘alt-right’ agenda.” No, whether it’s building that mythical wall or attacking affirmative action, the Trump administration’s anti-minority moves are all politically motivated. Trump and Sessions are simply animal trainers throwing red meat to the most enthusiastic and easily manipulated contingent of their base: dumb white people.
The people who believe that we are under attack by Mexico, even though more Mexicans leave the U.S. every year than come here, are the same group who believe that affirmative action takes opportunity away from deserving, talented, hardworking white people and hands it to unqualified minorities. Many of them hold a number of misconceptions about affirmative action.
To clear up these fallacies, we decided to hold a question-and-answer session about affirmative action with a random white person. While this doesn’t seem like an effective method, if there’s one innovation for which I must applaud the entirety of Caucasianhood, it’s their ability to blithely believe that a single individual or small number can represent a large, disparate, entire group of people. Stereotyping is fun and easy.
According to a 2014 Harvard University study, 64 percent of young white people have negative feelings about affirmative action, so we spoke with Dwight P. Pull and gave him the opportunity to ask questions in order to clear up the falsehoods about affirmative action.
Affirmative action. That’s when colleges and workplaces lower their standards to get more blacks and Hispanics in, right?
Well, not quite. Affirmative action is defined as “an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women.” White women have been the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action by far. According to a 2014 piece in Time magazine:
While people of color, individually and as groups, have been helped by affirmative action in the subsequent years, data and studies suggest women—white women in particular—have benefited disproportionately.
But why do colleges and universities lower their standards at all? Some of my white friends have been rejected by colleges that accepted black kids who scored lower on admissions test like the SAT and ACT. Don’t you think that’s unfair?
It would be, if those standardized test meant anything. It is understandable that white people do better on standardized tests written by white people, calibrated on white students for white students, so people like Jeff Sessions believe that people who score higher on college admissions tests are better students. They want the SAT and ACT to be the measuring stick for college entrance, simply because—unlike doing the Electric Slide and making macaroni—it’s one of the few things they perform better at than other groups.
But researchers have known for years that college admissions tests are culturally biased. Study after study shows it. Aside from the fact that economically affluent kids generally fare better on the tests for a number of reasons (access to tutoring, better school districts, access to honors and Advanced Placement programs, less pressure to perform), the SAT was initially developed to weed out minorities and Jews from gaining access to higher education.
Not only are the tests biased, but universities have known for quite a while that these standardized tests don’t really test anything. They don’t indicate academic success, intelligence or how well you will do in college beyond your first year. The only thing the SAT and ACT really predict is how well a student has prepared to take the SAT or ACT. In fact, they have become such a distracting barrier for potential students that many of the top-ranked colleges don’t even use them anymore.
Colleges use admissions-test results to determine college readiness like the NBA uses height: It is definitely important, but it is not the determining factor. Thinking that white applicants are better students because they score higher is like believing Dikembe Mutombo is better than Michael Jordan simply because Mutombo is taller. University of San Francisco professor Malik Henfield, one of the country’s leading researchers on educating and counseling gifted minority students, describes these ideas as “based on false notions that we live in an egalitarian, merit-based society. We know this is not true.”
Furthermore, the average white kid has access to more academic resources than the average minority child, so white kids should do better academically. Kids from single-parent homes sometimes can’t participate in after-school activities because of simple logistics. White kids are also more likely to have parents who went to college who know exactly how to prepare their children for academic success.
How likely is it that a Hispanic student at a predominantly white high school can get elected student government president? White kids have certain advantages for no other reason than their whiteness, so they are likely to have better test scores and better academic résumés.
But you have to admit, black people do have an advantage over whites. Don’t they get to go to college for free?
Sigh. I knew you were going to ask that. Apparently, this is actually a thing. I’ve met a lot of white people who believe that black students get so much financial aid and scholarships that they don’t have to pay for college. Writer Ashley Ford prompted a whole white-tears-infused discussion about it on Twitter.
Not only is this false, but the exact opposite is true. Black students borrow more money than white students for the same degrees, according to a 2014 study (pdf) by Sara Goldrick-Rab, Robert Kelchen and Jason Houle and a 2015 report (pdf) by Demos. Black students graduate with more student loan debt because they don’t have the same financial resources as white college students. There are black people around the world who’d love to know where this “free college” shit came from.
While it is true that there are more scholarships and tuition grants for minorities that white people can’t get, it is only an—hold up; listen carefully—an affirmative action to make up for the disparity in parental income, long-term college savings and little-known programs that minority and traditionally marginalized groups don’t get to benefit from.
Ask any black college graduate whether he or she would rather have a parent help with tuition than have the pressure of maintaining a GPA for an academic scholarship, borrowing money that will have to be paid back for the rest of his or her life, and still working part time at the Arby’s drive-thru. After that college grad asks you “Why are you so nosy, Mr. White Man?” he or she will tell you that he or she would rather have the former.
But what about in the workplace? Don’t you think the best candidate should get the job? Why have affirmative action at companies, which should only be concerned with making money?
I agree. I believe the most qualified candidate should get the job. The problem with that belief is white people’s supposition that it was ever that way. Neither colleges nor companies have ever had a merit-based system that selected people because of ability. White men have always been the most employed, highest-paid and most powerful group in America.
White people’s boo-hooing about how workplace affirmative action is unfair to them is hilarious given the reason it exists in the first place: because without it, white people don’t hire black people.
It is easier for a white man with a criminal record to get hired than it is for a black man with no criminal background. According to Pew Research, even when adjusted for education and experience, the black unemployment rate is consistently twice that of whites. Even having a black name can make one unhirable. All of this is true even with affirmative action mandates in place.
Damn. That sounds fucked up, but can a government program like affirmative action legislate away racism?
No, it cannot. But again, your question is based on a false notion. You think that black people care about white people’s racism. They don’t.
Black people wouldn’t care if every Caucasian soul were really a Klansman at heart—we wouldn’t care if you harbored ill will toward us and hated us in the core of your being—so long as you treated us equally. Black people don’t seek some esoteric notion of love and unity from white America; we want economic, social and political equality.
That’s why affirmative action is important, because it is a real policy that addresses discrimination. It is affirmative. It is an action.
And to be honest, it is not a catchall solution. There are poor whites who are as economically disadvantaged as some minorities. There are affluent blacks who get to benefit from these policies. Although the goal of affirmative action policy is to address the large-scale problems, there are probably isolated incidents of white people who have been hurt by affirmative action. But they probably didn’t work hard enough or had parents who were willing to sacrifice. Or maybe they just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and concentrate on the important things.
See how that feels?