In the May 9 issue of The Triangle, Kim Post responded to my previous article about race in America. Post argued in defense of affirmative action and seems to think this argument is a direct response to my statements. Unfortunately, it would seem that Post has at best misinterpreted and at worst misrepresented my article. My brief references to Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the Supreme Court’s decision in Schuette v. Coalition were not a defense of affirmative action; it was an agreement with the spirit in which Sotomayor dissented. The fact that Post chose to focus on one aspect (8 percent of a nearly 1,300-word piece) is not only extremely frustrating but also professionally discourteous; more importantly it is a perfect example of the actual point of the article.
Post made no mention of Sotomayor’s disappointment with the simplistic view of racial issues in America. The purpose of the article was to draw attention to that view. It’s unfortunate and disappointing that I would have to state this (perhaps that was my fault for assuming such a long article would be read and understood fully), but my previous article was a recognition that our system of inequality is so complex and well-established that we don’t even notice it’s there. Furthermore, the only way to address racism in America is to recognize the role that race plays in our lives and then respectfully talk about it.
On the issue of affirmative action: It’s well-intentioned but highly flawed and only addresses the symptom of racial inequality in the university environment rather than the problem of a growing disparity in the quality of education along racial lines (as I stated in my article). As to the constitutionality of affirmative action, I tend to leave that debate to people better versed in constitutional law. The idea that my statements constitute a “straw-man” argument is indicative of how wholly Post failed to grasp the point of my article.
I did not support an argument for affirmative action because I was not making one — Post is free to disagree with the premise of my argument, but to distort my premise in an attempt to invalidate my original argument is, in fact, an example of the straw-man fallacy.
Affirmative action doesn’t address the role that culture, violence, physical and emotional security, nutrition, and physical activity play in early development. Affirmative action does not address the fact that most of the walls that keep minorities out of private universities were built way before college (as I stated in my article). It doesn’t address the fact that according to a recent census, 27 percent of blacks and 26 percent of Hispanics live below the poverty line compared to about 13 percent of whites. It doesn’t address the fact that inner city schools, which cater disproportionally to poor black and Hispanic families, are crippled by financial constraints and are often unable to meet students’ most basic needs in terms of materials, security, nutrition and other important factors that contribute to academic performance.
Affirmative action doesn’t address the problem of inequality in American universities; it tries to patch the problem. The actual point of using the example of affirmative action in my article was to draw an analogy: Affirmative action doesn’t solve the race problem in American schools, and pretending we live in a post-racial society doesn’t address the social, psychological, political and economic consequences of racism in all aspects of our lives. I would hope that in light of this follow up, Post would take the opportunity to read the article again and know that I look forward to further discussion of racial issues in America.
Brionne Powell is a sophomore political science major at Drexel University. She can be contacted at [email protected].