racial and sexual inequality (was Re: various bits)
Bradley M. Kuhn
Tue, 10 Aug 1999 04:39:20 -0400
Josh Baugher wrote:
> * Bradley M. Kuhn <email@example.com>:
> > > Bottom line, you made some good points (I found your statistics
> > > particularly enlightening). I never said that inequality doesn't
> > > exist, though, nor did I say that I believe that we should always
> > > choose white males. :-) My stance remains that we should choose
> > > whoever is qualified. If both candidates are qualified, flip a
> > > coin. :-)
> > Why flip a coin? That is actually just reinforcing the power
> > structure, since people who aren't white males *don't* have a fair
> > shake to begin with!
> > So, the coin is stacked against them, as it were.
> So, we shouldn't even flip the coin. This is a one-sided situation.
> The white males should automatically not be selected.
Of course not. As has been said over and over again, no one is suggesting
that we select someone that isn't qualified. If the white male is the on
person qualified, he should be selected.
No one is disputing that.
> > Your statement is a paradox. If the black women is qualified, we are
> > NOT putting her in power "just because she's a black woman". We are
> > putting her in power because she is qualified *and* because she is a
> > black woman.
> AND you are NOT putting the other person in there, not because he is
> unqualified, but because he is a white man.
What if it had been too white men for the job? Someone wouldn't get it.
Someone would loose the coin toss. All that's being proposed here is that
since *clear* inequities exist (i.e., non-white males loose a lot of
so-called other "coin tosses" in life because the odds are stacked against
them), we use the coin tosses we can control as a society to right the
> > BTW, it isn't bad ipso facto to put a white man in power. However,
> > because white men control all the power in this country, we have
> > to work in reverse to undo centuries upon centuries of white male
> > domination.
> How long do we have to dwell in the past?
No one is proposing we dwell in the past. The inequities *still exist
today*. Did you read the numbers I have posted? I have seen no one else
post data that says there are no inequities today.
The past only comes up when one attempts to explain why it is that we have
inequities. The inequities exist clear and present *today*. Affirmative
action is trying to correct the inequities that exist *today*. Not those of
the past. The past is only an explanation of why there are inequities
> I don't like the fact that people have had unfair advantages, but...
But what? But you think we should do nothing about them and ignore them?
> What I do is this -- I swallow hard, and get on with life.
Since you are a white male, that's much easier for you to do. You are
> If I don't make the assumption that today is a clean slate, is it even
> possible that people will ever be treated equal?
You are assuming something that isn't true. Today isn't a clean slate. A
black child born today will be be born to parent(s) twice as likely to be
unemployed as their white counterparts. If these parent(s) are employed,
they make on average about half what their white counterparts do.
How can we assume that everyone starts with a clean state? And, if we
assume that, I turn the question back to you: given these inequities, how
can we ever have equality if we continue to assume that people are equal
when they aren't?
> > So, if you believe that, and you aren't a fascist or a Randian
> > (aka objectivist), you probably feel that we should correct that
> > situation.
> I believe that, and I'm definitely not a fascist or an objectivist, and I
> don't think we should correct the situation, but rather let the situation
> fix itself.
What evidence do you have that the situation, if left alone, will fix
itself. The burden of proof is on you.
> > Affirmative action appears to me to be the only way we can easily
> > correct it. It might not be the best way, but it's the best one I
> > have seen us find as a society.
> What other proposals has there been?
All other proposal that I have seen work in unison with Affirmative action
(e.g., teacher incentives, school programs, student loan programs). I
haven't seen anything proposed that looks to replace what affirmative action
does. No one has come up with a better solution yet. There may not be one.
> Does anybody know of any "big ones" -- affirmative action is the only
> mainstream one that I've read about.
Perhaps it is the only one out there because it has been proven to work (see
Myth #2 at http://www.socialpsychology.org/affirm.htm), and it is clear that
it is still needed (see Myth #3 at
> > > Discrimination is discrimination. By engaging in it, you're never
> > > going to bridge the gap between people...
> > I don't agree with that opinion. However, I do have a question:
> > How do we bridge the gap if we don't use affirmative action?
> > Affirmative action has been shown to work in a number
> Won't the gap eventually bridge itself?
I don't think so. What evidence do you have that it will?
Consider a big case study: our first black Supreme Court justice. He is
against Affirmative Action, yet, he is a product of it. If you study his
life, you find that things like his college admissions, scholarships,
etc. were all through various affirmative action programs.
The point is that I can exhibit case study after case study, and statistic
after statistic that affirmative action puts qualified non-white males into
places of power. However, I have yet to see any data that shows (a) this
would happen without Affirmative Action  or (b) that this is not helping
reduce inequality in our nation .
> > > Treat people as people. Treat each one with the respect they
> > > deserve as a human being (God's creation, in my world view). Don't
> > > artificially elevate one over the other, even in the name of
> > > righting a wrong.
> > These are nice friendly sentiments, but at the end of the hiring
> > round, this doesn't change a thing. We have to proactively address
> > the problem, or it *will not get better*.
> This may be where we all differ.
> Personally, I think the situation is getting better. Obviously others
> think the processes need to be "forcefully accelerated."
Yes, the situation is getting better. Realize that affirmative action has
existed your entire lifetime (I am assuming that you were more than likely
born in the 1970s and/or 1980s). Affirmative action has made this happen.
And, huge back-lashes have happened where enrollment of non-whites goes down
*drastically* below representative of the population when affirmative action
(I mention this post-secondary issue here and in footnote 0. I believe this
NPR story discusses the issue:
I can't be sure because I don't use Real Audio because it's proprietary
software; thus, I cannot verify the content matches my claim. This story
seems older than the one I remember, but it's the only hard reference I
could find in the time I had. If anyone feels that I need to back up the
point better, I will be happy to search harder when I get time.
I actually remember a report dealing directly with the recent changes in
California post-secondary. The URL I give above deals with Texas....
I really wish NPR had full transcripts available. They have them (I know
you can order them), so why don't they make them available?)
> Does society improve for the "good" without coercion?
I disagree that affirmative action is coercion. However, I do believe that
societal problems don't get better without actively addressing the
problems. Simple inertia keep things as they were. (Consider that no real
inroads were made in the treatment of blacks in the south from the early
1900s until and the 1960s when civil rights became a large part of the
national agenda (which was "forced" onto the agenda by activists)).
> I'd like to think so -- but that is idealistic me speaking. :-)
I have seen no evidence that anything changes without at least some vocal
minority calling for change and working toward it.
 Indeed, to the contrary, the recent push to remove affirmative action
from post-secondary education has showed a huge backlash in reducing
diversity by drastic numbers.
 Again, see Myth #2 at http://www.socialpsychology.org/affirm.htm
- firstname.lastname@example.org - Bradley M. Kuhn - email@example.com -