Monday, July 11, 2005


If you walk across Sproul Plaza on the Berkeley campus around noontime you'll see a wonderful array of students and their respective activity clubs recruiting. Upon closer examination, however, you can observe a microcosm of the world. The Palestinian and Israeli student groups usually stage a protest. Yes, they'll yell at one another. The Asian student groups will pass out fliers, but only to other Asians -- they'll ignore you if you're of another creed.

I've never quite understood why these groups recruit only people of their own cultural background. If you'd really like to teach others about your culture, why not recruit those that don't know anything about it? Isn't the formulation of a group based on cultural heritage and skin color tantamount to prejudice?

Has a backlash against white Americans for past grievances created a counterculture of prejudice against them? I, for one, support affirmative action, but not in the way that it is currently implemented. Here's my argument. There was a guy that grew up in my neighborhood when I was young. His father was a famous basketball player. They were loaded. He was African American and often joked about how he'd get into a great school because of the color of his skin. Mind you, we grew up in a nice neighborhood -- good schools, low crime.

Juxtapose his situation to an impoverished white child growing up in Compton. Shouldn't a white child growing up in Compton be given some affirmation that he/she grew up poor and a "minority?" Here's what I'm getting at. Shouldn't affirmative action incorporate socioeconomic factors rather than the color of someone's skin? Hear me. I am all for leveling the playing field. I want to see equal representation in our society. However, I just don't think our current affirmative action system does that well.

Until we fix this system, aren't we all passing out pamphlets to some people, merely because of the color of their skin?


Blogger Edge said...

I have a theory that makes me sound really racists, but I'm not. I think we all like to be around people who are like us and not dislike us. Is that so racist?

I don't want to be around people I have very little in common with, but that doesn't mean I have to have a set percentage of them as my friends. And I don't have to hate them. That's so Archie Bunker, "Yes, this is my Asian friend. I met him through my American Indian friend" How sad is that?

If you want to be my friend, be my friend. If not, then that's ok too.

For some reason we have gotten into this whole, "We have to like everyone syndrome," in this country. You don't, but you don't have to hate on them.


2:08 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

1. That is something that struck me in highschool: there was a club designed to make the foreign students more comfortable and for everyone to learn about each other's cultures. Except the white kids. I and a friend begged and she finally let us in (we won on the argument that we would like to learn about their culture else do we make them more comfortable but to get to know them better?) but she would only let the 2 of us in.

2. I'm all for hiring the best person for the job be they black white hispanic, asian, purple, whatever. I don't care for affirmative action the way it is implemented. I have worked at least 2 places where I overheard conversation that so and so was just an affirmative action hire, only to discover the person they were talking about was well educated and great at the job. Its another way to discriminate. I've also worked places where the white applicant was better qualified but didn't get the job because of affirmative action.

We definitely need a better system.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Anandi said...

I definitely agree that affirmative action should be based on socioeconomic factors - I think some schools are definitely moving towards this by asking questions about whether your parents went to college, family status (divorced, singly parent,etc) and so on.

However, I think there still is a bias for some people if two applicants are equally qualified and one is non-white. I think a lot of older, white (possibly male) managers would more likely pick the person who's more "like them". I think there is some value to going out of your way to make sure there is representaiton from different ethnic backgrounds, races, etc. if you do have a choice between two equally good candidates.

6:56 PM  
Blogger The Lazy Iguana said...

When I was at UF in 1992 they had a GLSU, or Gay and Lesbian Student Union.

I was kind of annoied at the whole thing. Was the regular student union not good enough? Was it really necessary for university funds to support two student unions?

But I got over it. Besides, with two student unions there was less of a chance I would have to wait for a pool table or bowling alley.

But really, I can understand the asian students only wanting other asians in their social club. Really.

But what happens when white people want to form a "white person social club"? Brings burning crosses and guys wearing pointy hoods to mind.

And I would have joined an asian student association - just for the food. Ummmmmmmmm.

9:30 PM  

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