Einstein's Definition of Insanity

Monday, July 24, 2006

Albert Einstein has defined insanity as doing something over and over, expecting different results (to paraphrase).

I would propose a new definition, wrought by example. The new definition of insanity is based on California's Prop 209 (from 1996), which is taking different forms and spreading to outside states: proposals to end racism by...racism. Awesome.

California businessman Ward Connerly, himself an African American, has taken it as his duty to end "racist Affirmative Action" programs across the country. A quote:

I have seen firsthand the devastating effects that race preferences can have on young people. Contrary to what the proponents of "affirmative action" would lead you to believe, the issue of race preferences is not just about statistics and data, or clich├ęs about "leveling the playing field" or providing "opportunities" for disadvantaged "minorities." Real lives are radically affected, and incalculable social and economic costs result when decisions are made about individuals based on the color of their skin or the origin of their ancestors.

California' Prop 209 has been around California now for 10 years. The effect? Declining African American enrollment in major California Universities. The University of California and UCLA have each experienced a 3% decline to African American enrollment over the last 10 years, while overall enrollment has increased. Connerly's response?
"It's much more convenient to blame 209, and to blame the university's requirements, than to do the heavy lifting of getting our students prepared so that they can compete," Connerly says.

According to Connerly, the prestige of a UC diploma has upped the ante for everyone. Last year, more than 45,000 students applied to UCLA. Connerly says there are simply too few blacks who make the grade on the only standard that should count: academic merit.
As a counter-point, UCLA sociologists agree that UCLA's own enrollment process overall was equally to blame as Prop 209, but the reason one sociologist gave was that UCLA's admissions process "fails to take a student's background into account. [The Sociologist] says the University of California, Berkeley, which has a higher percentage of black students, takes a more holistic approach when reviewing an applicant's file."

Ward Connerly says, though, that that approach is simply "Affirmative Action in disguise."

UC Berkely's admissions process takes into account a student's high school performance as it relates to their background, family makeup, location and overall performance of their high school and other factors. In other words, a student from an inner-city high school, let's say Compton, who is able to get a 4.0+ GPA, plays an instrument, and is involved in sports, really ought to have a shot at college, where they will most likely compete quite well. But not according to Ward Connerly. The student from Orange County who is able to get a 4.2 GPA, has multiple Advanced Placement courses and access to collegiate-level coaches in high school is obviously more qualified, right?

Wrong. UC Berkely is absolutely right to take into account a student's entire history when looking at college admissions. This is where kids who excel against great odds finally get their shot at what people like me with my background take for granted: admission to college and a chance to advance. But Mr. Connerly would take even that shot away. Sure, on its face a 4.2 is better than the 4.0. But take in to account the sheer number of students who will get excellent grades from massively rich high schools, versus the kids from a single parent who lives in a gang-ridden part of LA...or New York...or Detroit for whom even going to school is a luxury. Should we relegate those students to Community Colleges and sub-par Universities**? The fact is that the kids from upper-middle-class suburbia will be able to attend pretty much their choice of higher education institutions. Indeed, Ward is correct in that we have to look at our public education systems to adequately prepare students for higher education, and in many cases, this is not happening in urban schools. But should we halt the current admissions practices of UCLA and UC Berkely, and many others, while we fix this complex problem, which could take decades? No way.

Mr. Connerly has taken his fight on the road to Michigan, in a ballot initiative called, confusingly, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. It will appear on Michigan’s ballot in November.

I should mention that Mr. Connerly’s group, and Mr. Connerly himself, makes about $1 million for each state he does this in. Who’s interest is this really in?

Go to this web site to find out more about how to oppose Mr. Connerly’s self-interested and racist voice in Michigan. And for God’s sake, vote “NO” in November on the purposefully-named Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which it wholly is not.

**I am a Spartan fan. I had to get my shot in at U of M. GO STATE!


Smitty 1:37 PM  

NOTE: So, there's supposed to be a GREAT picture of Dave Chappelle in his "Black White Supremacist" bit, for added emphasis, but goddamned Blogger isn't letting me post pix for some reason. So just imagine that picture as you read the blog, and it'll be WAY funny. Trust me.

Bob 2:31 PM  

I had trouble with pics recently too. I thought it was me. Damned blogger!

As for the post...

I grew up in the Howell, Michigan area. For those of you from other states, Howell has a reputation as being the KKK capitol of Michigan. I also worked in construction in that area, which is not the most open-minded of professions. I witnessed racist behavior growing up and in my job. I was in verbal and nearly physical altercations with co-workers, who wouldn't shut up when told.

Until an aspiring African American construction manager, or an African American father who is putting his kids through school, can get a job as easily as I could, in any geographic area or profession he chooses, there is a need for Affirmative Action in hiring and school admissions.

Conservatives want to believe that the field is level, because there are laws against discrimination. Those laws do nothing when it is made clear you are not welcome in jobs that are 99% white and 80% redneck.

Mr Furious 3:05 PM  

The naming of that Initiative is nothing short of infuriating to me. It is all but certain to pass simply because of it's Bushian "Clear Skies/Healthy Forest" misleading label.

Even folks who are aware that there is something on the ballot regarding affirmative Action are likely to misinterpret this. It is a fucking crock that they can pull this.


I hear ya on the Howell thing, Bob. I am a relative newbie here in Michigan, and I am well aware of the reputation there. Our demographer here at work states that Livingston County is one of the whitest in the country. And they like it that way it seems.

B Mac,  9:57 AM  

I know what you're talking about. I grew up in Midland. Under the leadership of our Mayor, Whitey MacCaucasian, we had a black population around 0.8 percent.

I'll tell you, there is nothing more amusing than listening to someone who had a private tutor for their SAT bitch about the "unfair advantage" of some kid in Flint with bars on his classroom windows.

Jennifer Gratz is the white student who couldn't get into my alma mater, the University of Michigan (Go Blue), and who sued because of the 'racist' admissions process (coincidentally, her ACT was below the 25th percentile of admitted students, and her GPA wasn't that great. But I digress). The Jennifer Gratz's of this world seem to think that the disparity created by a few hundred years of white people being pricks is just a fact of life. But the minute a few people try make up in some way for those hundreds of years of prickishness, or even to take into account the fact that a kid out of Saginaw High might have had a few more hurdles to overcome than a kid from West Bloomfield, all of a sudden they kick and scream that race shouldn’t matter.

I'm not sure if I should be dismayed by the ignorance or embarrassed by the selfishness.

P.S. On behalf of white men everywhere, I'm sorry about the whole "oppressing women and minorities" thing. My bad.

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