Saturday, November 11, 2006

Affirmative Reaction, pt. 4 - Beyond any concerns about interracial equity, affirmative action has served to create a greater concentration of wealth within the black community. Black educational elites become black economic elites who spend more of their time and resources with their economic peers, black or white. Those blacks who do not directly benefit from affirmative action are poorly placed to benefit indirectly as they are largely unable to provide the highly specialized services needed by the black economic elites. Thus, affirmative action serves to create and reinforce fault lines within a black community that is already fractured by class and education. In his book, Dr. Stephen Carter (see pt. 3) cites data from various sources to include the National Research Council in order to speak to the failure of affirmative action as a lever for socio-economic uplift for blacks.

What has happened in black America in the era of affirmative action is this: middle-class black people are better off and lower-class black people are worse off. Income stratification (the difference between the median income of the top fifth and the bottom fifth of earners) in the black community has increased sharply, even as it has softened in the white community. At the same time, recent studies have shown considerable convergence between black and white workers at the high end: that is, the number of black people in the higher-paying professional positions is growing faster than the number of white people.
Another concern that can be raised regarding affirmative action is the fact that the black community as a whole has absolutely no control over any of the programs. Neither the NAACP, nor the National Urban League, nor the Rainbow/Push Coalition nor any other body in the constellation of civil rights organizations has one iota of control over any of the programs at the individual colleges. The black community has no say in which schools will offer affirmative action programs, the number of affirmative action slots available at each college, the criteria that will be used to determine a recipient's “merit” or which students will be beneficiaries of a program. Affirmative action therefore is not and can never be a part of any cohesive strategy to raise the overall status of African Americans.

Still more to come...

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