Affirmative action does not confront
larger problem of racism
June 25, 2003
Court issued two rulings in the UM undergrad and law school affirmative
action cases. I awaited the rulings with some apprehension given
the conservative bent of the Court and the current political climate.
George W. Bush (via Solicitor General Ted Olson) actually filed
calling for the affirmative action to be ruled unconstitutional
on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
The implications of this case were huge. I saw it as
equal opportunity in education coming under attack. As a
progressive person but especially as an teacher, I've always
seen education as the greatest opportunity we have to improve
lives as well as better our communities, and to advance our
society toward a more just future.
Unfortunately, education is not yet a social priority in this
country the way it ought to be. While we have lots of talk
and lofty goals,
we have very little in the way of a cohesive and just educational
program that should be expected of such an advanced industrialized
The Bush Administration, exhausted from creating wars, is at
best 'vague' when it comes to articulating its position on
education. I have taught in the Jersey City Public Schools
for 3 years now,
and all I know about the No Child Left Behind Act is that it
simply place the bulk of blame on the teachers for low scores
and increase the frequency with which we assault our schools
Perhaps I'm still in the dark, but I have heard nothing
in the way of increased and improved funding for social and
extracurricular programs we are so deperate for in our schools.
Indeed, with massive tax cuts, Orwellian security measures, and
spending dwarfing all other aspects of our budget,
can we afford to improve our schools and communities?
It's interesting that there has been very little assistance
from the government, yet punitive measures have been well in
for poor-performing schools (poor on biased standardized tests)
threaten already inadequate funding. This policy of penalizing
our under resourced K-12 schools, and then holding them accountable
to a high standard without giving them adequate help is an
exercise in self-deception and failure.
It exacerbates a well-defined
gap between have and have nots in this country, again pushing
toward a formal two-tiered society and actually creates the
for affirmative action programs. Ultimately, this is a policy
which stems largely from the strong and vibrant legacy of
racism in the
And though affirmative action was created in order to redress
those who suffered and were systematically excluded from
opportunity, it is nothing more than a Band-Aid solution
until we confront
larger problem of racism in this country, which will not
go away until we take drastic measures to equalize our society.
like quality schools teaching a multi-perspective curriculum,
health care for all, social services, and urban renewal projects,
Really, I don't want affirmative action around forever.
I'd prefer for everyone to have the same access to opportunities
that traditionally have been available to only an elite
minority. That access can only come with a serious commitment and
in our public school system, both in developing new, critical
curriculum that challenges set notions of race and history,
and by improving
But unless we stop militarizing and pursuing
war as casually as some do sex, for the pride of conquest,
not have the funds to create an egalitarian society that
make affirmative action obselete. It's that simple.
The Supreme Court wrote it hopes in 25 years race is
no longer a consideration for furthering the interest
at our universities. Me too. To that, I say when being
or female or anyone else not associated with the dominant
culture (in my case, Iranian and Middle Eastern) doesn't
conjure up inferiority, stereotypes, suspicion, fear
or any of the ugliness
that it does today, we will have reached that point.
Until then, leave the Band-Aid on.
I happened across this
cartoon today reading the Detroit
Free Press. I liked it because it shows how little
is going in their own country, or their inability to
stop being an individual all the time and care for
their lives and cities with. Enjoy...
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