Ask a Columbian...
Affirmative Action is a complex, contestable issue with room for perhaps a significant amount of improvement. But that does not mean that we should write it off as unworkable and return to a time where schools admitted high income high score only students. In "Racism by another name is 'diversity,'" Goldberg acknowledges that the majority of writings about Affirmative Action are by the same high income guilt ridden white folk that are admitted as the majority of college students. He suggests that perhaps it should be looked at by minorities directly affected by the issue. I decided to have a chat about the subject with my token Columbian friend attending college in Queens.
The specific quote to which we responded: "That business about redressing past discrimination against blacks is no longer the name of the game. It's difficult to put into words how condescending this is in that it renders black students into props, show-and-tell objects for the other kids' educational benefit." Token Friend pointed out that 'redressing past discrimination against blacks' is still part of the game in some sense. Racial tensions still exist between blacks and whites, and to make matters more complicated, newer underprivileged races have entered the scene. Friend believes that mixing races together in an equalized setting would help reduce currently felt racial tensions. He argues that it is needed in order to prevent a large backwards step into a perceived reality of inequality. Essentially, affirmative action is need in order to maintain the status quo of race relations.
I asked him about the fairness of denying one race with a high test score place at a school in order to grant admission to another race, even if that person's score is lower. He pointed out that that particular race probably would not have a problem attending another just as qualified school, as illustrated with Jian Lee attending Yale instead of Princeton. Often lower scoring minority races do not have as many options, But this stems from inherent inequality in the educational system rather than the base test scores. He also believes that the importance of reducing racial tension by integrating students far exceeds the importance of denying a few qualified students because they don not fill the quota.