racial and sexual inequality (was Re: various bits)
Bradley M. Kuhn
Mon, 9 Aug 1999 09:23:59 -0400
John M. Klassa wrote:
> >>>>> On Sun, 8 Aug 1999, "Brad" == Bradley M. Kuhn wrote:
> [ Tying together several messages... ]
> Brad> I went looking online, and was unable to find a single one. In
> Brad> fact, I wasn't able to find a single WWW site with any truthful
> Brad> information against Affirmative Action (nearly all of the ones I
> Brad> found talked about quotas and hiring unqualified people, which
> Brad> no one supports).
> This is an interesting observation... You claim that nobody supports
> the hiring of unqualified people, and yet it happens.
I don't see any data that it happens. What I was referring to on the WWW was
opinions on the WWW that *insisted* that is what happens. I have yet to see
data that's how AA gets implemented.
BTW, this is addressed in Myth #10 at
> While "pure" Affirmative Action may be a nice thought, in practice it's
> abused (like everything else).
That's an argument for reforming AA, not an argument against it. Sounds
like an argument to continue AA and make sure it's implemented properly.
> Perhaps my problem with AA is that I've seen how it tends to be
> implemented rather than what it's supposed to be.
Then work to implement it properly, instead of arguing against it! :)
> me> I don't understand how it can be viewed as bad to put a white male
> me> in power just because he's a white male, when you're perfectly
> me> willing to put a black woman in power just because she's a
> me> black woman (assuming, again, that all candidates are equally
> me> qualified).
> Brad> Your statement is a paradox. If the black women is qualified,
> Brad> we are NOT putting her in power "just because she's a black
> Brad> woman". We are putting her in power because she is qualified
> Brad> *and* because she is a black woman.
> But you *are* putting her into power because she's a black woman.
When you say it that, it infers that's the only reason. That's why I took
issue with it.
> Factor out the commonalities: both are qualified, so what's left is that
> the one is a black woman and the other is a white man. Thus, you're
> hiring her because she's a black woman. There's no paradox here.
But never forget that she would never be hired if she wasn't qualified.
That's a very important point.
> Brad> Do you agree that white males are clearly holding an unequal
> Brad> amount of the power in this nation?
> Honestly, I don't know. I don't run in the kinds of circles that give me
> access to the people in power.
Take a look at the management hierarchy, from you up to the CEO on your
company's organization chart. What percentage are white men, as opposed to
white women? What percentage are white as opposed to non-white?
Then, look around your level. How many of your peers are non-white or
women? Do the women and/or non-whites in your organization have higher
paying or lower paying jobs than yours?
> I'll take your word for it, though, since I certainly have no evidence to
> the contrary.
There's lots of evidence to show there is inequity. Some is at:
> Brad> Ok, so if we can agree that there is a problem of white male
> Brad> power, and that it needs to be correct, how do we correct it?
> Brad> Affirmative action appears to me to be the only way we can
> Brad> easily correct it. It might not be the best way, but it's the
> Brad> best one I have seen us find as a society.
> Perhaps you are correct... Perhaps AA is the best way we've found.
> Still, I can't help but see the whole thing as yet more discrimination.
This is addressed as Myth #7 at:
The idea here is were are trying to *include* people who weren't included in
the past. That's not discrimination; it's inclusion of someone who wasn't
> me> Discrimination is discrimination. By engaging in it, you're never going
> me> to bridge the gap between people...
> Brad> I don't agree with that opinion. However, I do have a question:
> What's not to agree with?
I think using these methods (AA); we *can* bridge the gap between people.
It has already worked. See Myth #2 at:
> How are you going to keep from pissing off perfectly qualified white men
> if you give jobs to somebody else, all the time, strictly on the basis of
> minority/non-minority status?
My first reaction is: white men deserve to be pissed off about something
real once in a while.
But that's just being flippant (even if it is true).
However, to find out why white men need not be upset, check out Myth #5 at:
> How are you ever going to make everybody feel good in a world where
> there's somebody being discriminated against?
I don't know the answer to that question. But, discrimination is going to
continue whether we have AA or not.
We might as well have it and work towards as equality, instead of standing
still or moving backwards.
> Brad> Personally, I feel that most white men get pissed off because
> Brad> they don't want to have a fair shake against others. White men
> Brad> grow up used to the privileges that come with it.
> Here, I disagree with you. I don't get pissed when everyone is on an even
> footing and the spoils go to the person best qualified (regardless of race
> or sex). I get pissed off when someone wins simply because they meet the
> EOE check-boxes on the application form
Again, no one is supporting people should win if they meet check-boxes. They
win because they are first and foremost qualified, and the check-box is used
only as a secondary determinant when a coin toss would be used otherwise.
Also note that in the case of contracts, minority workers may be willing to
work for less, because they are used to working for less, so their bids may
undercut those of white workers.
> (and, as I said earlier, that's what seems to happen in real life,
> regardless of what AA is really supposed to be).
Then call for *better* AA policy. Don't call for getting rid of it!
> Brad> However, just "flipping a coin" to pick the right candidate is
> Brad> not fair in today's society. If someone who is non-white and/or
> Brad> non-male makes it as far as the interview and is determined to
> Brad> be just as good as their fellow white male candidates, then they
> Brad> have already had to beat tons of odds that were stacked against
> Brad> them. They got damn lucky.
> I'm not sure I agree here. What odds have they beaten?
The odds that say women are much less likely to succeed in the sciences (see
Peggy Orenstein). The odds that say blacks are twice as unemployed as
whites (see http://www.aclu.org/library/pbp17.html). There are others, too,
that I don't have data for handy.
> As I said earlier, my opinion is that people should treat people with
> respect and dignity.
I agree. When we support AA, we are trying to return respect and dignity by
giving non-whites and women a fair shake where they didn't have a fair shake
> You said, in essence, that that's a nice pipe dream but that it doesn't
> solve any problems.
It can solve problems, if you don't ignore the problems and don't act to
actively make respect and dignity possible.
> Well, IMHO, neither does the broken way that AA is implemented.
So, let's work to fix it, rather than abolish it (I don't necessarily agree
that it's broken, but I couldn't find specific data...However, there is lots
of data that shows it *does* work to restore equality).
> It's a nice idea, perhaps, but it doesn't solve the basic problem. It's
> yet more discrimination.
See Myth #7.
> [ BTW -- I rarely get into discussions like this because I hate pissing
> people off and making enemies. I hope you (and others) realize that
> I'm not attacking you personally... I'm just making conversation.
> I'm assuming you're doing likewise. :-) ]
I am trying to advocate what I believe is the most ethical thing to do. I
respect that others don't have the same Kantian ethical code hierarchy as
I. (Or, that they may be relativist or utilitarians, and not even Kantians).
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