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An outrageous defense of white privilege

Melvin B. Miller
An outrageous defense of white privilege
“We have to stop affirmative action. It gives blacks a chance to demonstrate their competence.” (Photo: Dan Drew)

Opportunities for African Americans in the new year are promising. The economy is improving and blacks appear to be more confident when confronting racial discrimination. Nonetheless, there should be no complacency about the latent opposition. Nothing illustrates the intensity of the white vs. black conflict more than the case of Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas, a case on the Supreme Court docket this term.

Fisher sued the University on the grounds that she was discriminated against when she was denied admission in 2008. She argued that she was rejected, while blacks and Latinos with inferior academic records were admitted because of racial preference. She insists that she was denied admission solely because she is white.

The University of Texas at Austin is the flagship college of the state college system. Every one of the top ten percent of the graduates of Texas high schools who applies is automatically admitted. In 2008, 92 percent of the freshman class were admitted in this way. The remaining 841 openings were filled by the evaluation of two sets of scores.

The first score was based on the applicant’s grade point average and the SAT score. The second score was more subjective. It was based on a number of factors including two essays, special activities, demonstrated leadership qualities, community service and special circumstances such as socio-economic status, being from a single parent home, or race.

After this evaluation process the turn-down rate still was extraordinarily high. Contrary to Fisher’s assertion that blacks or Latinos routinely were admitted, 168 minorities with equal or higher grades than Fisher were rejected. Of those admitted with lower grades and scores than Fisher, only five were black or Latino and 42 were white.

Bigots should find it embarrassing to assert that this admission system was racially discriminating when it approved only five blacks and Latinos with lower academic scores than the complaining applicant. Is her complaint of unfair treatment still valid against the 42 whites with lower scores who also were admitted?

Not likely. The real objective of Fisher’s complaint is to close the door on black academic progress. Flagship state colleges have more exalted academic reputations and a special responsibility to enhance the educational progress of less affluent state residents. Only about 5 percent of the nation’s flagship public college students are black. Harvard University, one of the nation’s top schools, has achieved twice that rate.

Harvard’s accomplishment shows the absurdity of the comment of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Referring to the Fisher case, he said, “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school — a slower-track school where they do well.”

Once again Scalia is wrong. But what should society expect from a jurist who believes that the suffrage protections of the Voting Rights Act are no more than a “racial entitlement”? He and others like him who believe in the inferiority of blacks have put forth Abigail Fisher as their pawn, with every intention of assuring that the playing field remains tilted.

Blacks now have the energy, perception and skills to defeat these opponents, but it is necessary to remain ever alert to the constant threat.

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