affirmative action

Debate on race at UCLA between Jason Riley and Randall Kennedy tackles where to lay the blame for the ‘black body count’

LOS ANGELES – Two black intellectuals engaged in a heated exchange at UCLA this week over the high homicide rate among young black men and the shooting deaths of black men by racist or lawless police officers, with one arguing that’s not the main problem facing the black community and the other suggesting it’s a huge crisis.

The dispute took place during a debate on campus titled “Liberal Policies Make it Harder for Black Americans to Succeed” between Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal and Harvard law school Professor Randall Kennedy.

Riley is a noted conservative television and newspaper pundit who has written extensively on racial issues, including in his recent bookPlease Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed.” Kennedy teaches contracts, criminal law, and the regulation of race relations at Harvard Law School. He has likewise written voluminously on race and his most recent book is “For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law.”DebateSlider

The testy exchange during the debate saw both speakers interrupting each other and raising their voices.

Kennedy contended that racism within police departments is a major problem that leads to the killing of blacks as well as a black distrust of law enforcement and disrespect for the rule of law. He decried “rogue cops,” and suggested the criminal justice system is unable to discipline them.

But Riley pointed out the criminal justice system is “run by one black man who reports to another black man.” He also noted that less than 2 percent of black shooting deaths are at the hands of police officers and that, in fact, 90 percent of black shooting deaths are at the hands of other blacks. He also talked about how some of the worst black crime rates can be found in cities that have historically had many black mayors and police chiefs.

“I don’t think racism is the explanation,” Riley said. “It is not the Klan driving through the neighborhood shooting it up. These black kids in Boston, New Orleans, Chicago and New York are not shooting each other because of white racism. They are shooting each other because they have no sense of what it means to be a man, or to be black for that matter. They have a warped sense of racial identity, and this is how they settle their scores. It does not have to do with white racism and cops, it has to do with upbringing and values in fatherless homes.”

Riley tied his statements in the exchange into his basic point that blacks need to stop blaming the white bogeyman and instead honestly face their own cultural problems.

Kennedy said police – the guardians of law and order – should be held to higher standards than “thugs” who commit crimes.

Riley then noted that homicide is the leading cause of death among young black men, and asked Kennedy whether focusing on police shootings of blacks or blacks shooting of blacks would help reduce the “black body count.”

“That is a huge problem that is going to require a multi-focus,” Kennedy responded. “… I am not saying white racism is the all-debatepurpose explanation for what we are talking about. I am saying is what we are going to have to do is address many different things. One of those things, however, is the problem of police.”

Kennedy argued that while the notion of obeying the law has broken down in some black communities because of some of the reasons Riley stated, he added another reason is “when you see the police acting in a lawless way, that too breaks down the feeling of law-abidingness.”

“There just aren’t enough of those cases to make a dent,” Riley countered. “That is not to say we should ignore the fact that we have cops misbehaving. But it is to say to focus on that is to go wide of the mark. Cops are about six times as likely to be shot by someone black than the opposite. Yet we have [media] commentators selling this scenario that black men in America in poor communities walk around in fear of being shot by cops. That is not the case. They walk around in fear of being shot by other young black men. That is the reality. … The cops are in these neighborhoods because that is where the 9-1-1 calls originate.”

Is focusing on police brutality as the main problem going to reduce the black body count, Riley posited. No, he argued.

“If [police] are now overly concerned with being second-guessed of every decision they make, they are going to be more hesitant, they are going to be less aggressive when it comes to keeping peace in these neighborhoods. That will result, I fear, in a higher black body count.”

It was just one of many issues tackled by the two men during the one-hour debate Monday night at UCLA. They also disagreed on whether affirmative action has helped or hurt African-Americans, and if it’s American’s collective duty to provide “insurance” for victims of racism.

The two debaters’ speaking styles were polar opposites: Riley was soft-spoken, concise, and calm, whereas Professor Kennedy bellowed, used verbose rhetorical flourishes, and often displayed intense emotion.

In Riley’s opening statement, he stressed two major points. First, that liberal social policy since the Civil Rights Act of 1965 has been at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive toward black advancement. Second, that in order to advance, blacks must face tough and often taboo questions about cultural problems within black communities, and cease blaming their problems on residual white racism.

One overarching theme for Riley was the juxtaposition between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. Riley stated the government should only be in the business of guaranteeing the former and should not be striving for the latter.

Kennedy structured his opening argument in favor of affirmative action, and the other liberal social policies that Riley called ineffective, by drawing a parallel between these programs and other types of “social insurance” the government provides.

Kennedy argued that Americans collectively provide insurance for disasters, disability, age, economic depression like that seen in the financial crisis of 2008, and the destruction wrought by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He then offered the premise that racism is a social catastrophe that should be viewed by government in a similar fashion as the other sorts of catastrophes he mentioned. He stressed that it is American’s collective duty to provide “insurance” for victims of racism. Kennedy proclaimed one form this insurance could take would be to guarantee every person in the country a job, whether they have the skills for the job or not.

In the rebuttal period, Riley called Kennedy out for not addressing his claim that the last fifty years of liberal social policy have led to black retrogression. He said the argument against affirmative action and other similar policies is a pragmatic rather than a theoretical one.

Riley said there is 50 years of history showing that such policies simply don’t work. He gave some evidence to bolster his argument: between 1940 and 1960 the black poverty rate fell by 40 percent, all before the Civil Rights Act was passed, and the rate of decrease in the poverty rate has slowed since liberal policies began to be implemented in the 60s. He also noted that black unemployment rates and incarceration rates were lower in the 60s than they are now.

Riley conceded that the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were “liberalism at its best,” but that most of the economic gains blacks have made can’t be attributed to government policies such as affirmative action. Riley noted that the number of black “white-collar workers” quadrupled between 1940 and 1970, before affirmative action was implemented.

In Kennedy’s rebuttal, he refuted Riley’s argument that the blame for black retrogression should be laid at liberalism’s doorstep, noting liberals haven’t had a monopoly over policy in the last fifty years inasmuch as Reagan and both Bushes have served as presidents.

In addressing affirmative action, Kennedy flashed his oratory skills: “I am an unapologetic champion of affirmative action, I am an affirmative action baby, I’m not suffering a neurotic tremor about that.”

Responding to Riley’s point that pragmatism should be the focus in designing policy, Kennedy said “I’m experimental, even if it’s a conservative idea, give it a shot to see if it works.”

Roughly 75 people turned out for the debate. Matt Malkan, a professor of physics at UCLA who attended, said the debate was historic, with nothing like it happening in the last 10 to 15 years on campus.

It was hosted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, an organization dedicated to “Educating for Liberty” and co-founded by conservative icon William F. Buckley.

College Fix reporter Josh Hedtke is a student at UCLA.

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The College Fix covered the story of Vijay Chokal-Ingam, brother to actress Mindy Kaling, who said he got into med school with a 3.1 GPA after pretending to be black on his application. The Indian American is a strong opponent of affirmative action policies.

Now he’s being challenged by an Asian-American student at the University of Chicago for letting whites off the hook for stealing spots from Asian Americans.

Eleanor Hyun writes in The Chicago Maroon that she’s skeptical Chokal-Ingam’s story even holds up – calling several aspects “suspect” – and speculates that he could’ve gotten into med school by pretending to be white:

It is a well-known fact that, with the same MCAT score and GPA, black applicants have a higher chance of getting into medical schools than Asian or white applicants. … What is much less discussed, and much more difficult to justify, is the fact that, with the same MCAT and GPA, white applicants also have a higher chance of getting into medical school than Asian applicants. …

For some reason, it is always imagined that a black or Hispanic student is the one who is “stealing our spot.”

Hyun, the incoming editor in chief of the Maroon, has some charts comparing “underrepresented minority,” white and Asian applicants to med school based on their GPA.

The funny thing is, there are stories of Asians who can pass as white (as a result of being multiracial, for example) trying to do so in admissions. Many opt out of self-identifying as Asian on their applications. However, the story which has now emerged into the national consciousness is the story which pits two minorities against each other—the story of a South Asian man pretending to be black.

Hyun warns Asians not to fall for the crusade led by Edward Blum, whose Project on Fair Representation (now Students for Fair Admissions) is suing Harvard on claims of discriminating against Asian applicants:

Their interests do not lie in representing Asians, but in co-opting Asian voices for their own benefit. And what we see is that this isn’t a minority-versus-minority problem. It has to do with minorities being pitted against each other instead of addressing the actual source of oppression—the majority.

So… let’s fight Whitey together?

To almost exclusively frame discrimination against Asians within arguments about affirmative action is an incredibly narrow-minded approach—so narrow-minded that it only makes sense within the context of sustaining an existing racial pecking order. Discrimination in admissions has to do with much more than, and much beyond, affirmative action. It has to do with the fact that Asians are also a racial minority in America and subsequently face the discrimination that comes along with that status. It has to do with the fact that our accomplishments are dismissed as the products of an academic machine instead of a human being. And that’s something that we definitely should, and need to fight against. But this conflation with arguments against affirmative action is not the way to do it.

Read the op-ed.

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IMAGE: Eleanor Hyun’s Facebook page

“The true story of an Indian American who got into medical school by pretending to be an African American.”

So says Vijay Chokal-Ingam, the brother of Mindy Kaling from the hit TV show “The Mindy Project,” who has just come out of the closet.

On his new website Almost Black, he has gone public with the story of how, 15 years ago, he got into med school by pretending to be black.

As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words:

AlmostBlack

His Almost Black website states in part:

In my junior year of college, I realized that I didn’t have the grades or test scores to get into medical school, at least not as an Indian-American.

Still, I was determined to become a doctor and I knew that admission standards for certain minorities under affirmative action were, let’s say… less stringent?

So, I shaved my head, trimmed my long Indian eyelashes, and applied to medical school as a black man. My change in appearance was so startling that my own fraternity brothers didn’t recognize me at first.  I even joined the Organization of Black Students and started using my embarrassing middle name that I had hidden from all of my friends since I was a 9 years old.

Vijay the Indian-American frat boy become Jojo the African American Affirmative Action applicant to medical school.

Not everything worked out as planned. Cops harassed me. Store clerks accused me of shoplifting. Women were either scared of me or couldn’t keep their hands off me. What started as a devious ploy to gain admission to medical school turned into twisted social experiment.

I became a serious contender at some of the greatest medical schools in America, including Harvard, Wash U, UPenn, Case Western, and Columbia. In all, I interviewed at eleven prestigious medical schools in 9 major cities across America, while posing a black man.

Not bad for a kid with a 3.1 College GPA, heh?

My plan actually worked. Lucky for you, I never became a doctor.

The New York Post reports Chokal-Ingam “wound up dropping out of St. Louis University Medical School two years after he got in under false pretenses. He eventually was accepted at, and graduated from, UCLA Anderson’s MBA program — as an Asian Indian-American.”

The Post also interviewed Chokal-Ingam:

“I love my sister to death,” Chokal-Ingam, 38, told The Post in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, where he and his comedienne sibling both live. But they’re fighting over his revelation. “She says this will bring shame on the family.” …

Chokal-Ingam says he’s revealing his race ruse now because he heard that UCLA is considering strengthening its affirmative-action admissions policies. He says it’s a myth that affirmative action benefits the underprivileged.

… Chokal-Ingam said, “Racism is not the answer…. It also promotes negative stereotypes about the competency of minority Americans by making it seem like they need special treatment.”

Chokal-Ingam actually Tweeted out one of The College Fix’s recent stories, and by reading the headline you probably won’t be surprised as to why:

The article featured University of Michigan philosophy professor Carl Cohen, a liberal scholar who has argued against affirmative action for decades.

“When admission preference is associated with skin color, the result is the strengthening of the ignorant stereotype that people having skins of that color are intellectually weak. This a canard, but it is reinforced by preference,” Cohen told The Fix. “Preference in admission is a very bad thing for the minority preferred! It is also morally wrong, because it violates the fundamental principle that the races must be treated equally in a decent society.”

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IMAGES: Almost Black

Giving students preferential treatment because of the color of their skin does not help minority college students – and in fact – it hurts them.

So says University of Michigan Professor Carl Cohen, who cannot be labeled as one of those token conservative scholars who speak out against affirmative action.

Cohen’s recently published bookA Conflict of Principles: The Battle over Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan” was profiled earlier this month in The Wall Street Journal, which noted the philosophy professor was “a liberal when he joined the Michigan faculty in 1955 (he is now 83).” ProfCohen

“Mr. Cohen stuck to his belief in colorblind law even as educators at his own campus and elsewhere abandoned it,” the Journal reported. “Early in his career, he joined the debate over preferences, arguing against them in various publications and at public events, though to this day he donates money to the NAACP and the ACLU, both ardent supporters of preferences.”

In A Conflict of Principles, Professor Cohen continues to grind against the grain in the world of academia by denouncing racial preferences for college admissions, this time with a special focus on his own employer, the University of Michigan, which has been embroiled in several high-profile affirmative action lawsuits.

The College Fix conducted the following interview with Professor Cohen on the subject:

What motivated you investigate affirmative action at the University of Michigan?

Cohen: The philosophical justification of democracy rests upon the conviction that all members of some community are equal. In a democracy any preference for a racial group is intolerable. I learned, in 1995, that my university, the University of Michigan — which I love – was apparently giving race preference in admissions. I felt obliged to get the details and to seek to change that practice.

What response did you expect to receive from your coworkers, administrators, or alumni, and how did this differ from the actual response you were given?

Cohen: Most students and faculty here believed, mistaken in my view, that admissions preference was an advantage for minorities. In fact, it is very damaging to blacks and CarlCohenother minorities when it is known that they have been preferred because of their race. But I knew that, since they believed preference was an advantage for minorities, my colleagues and students would for the most part disagree with me. And what I expected was in fact realized. They did. They still do. Disagreement here at the University of Michigan, however, was and remains courteous and civil, even when intense.

Do you feel that affirmative action is a well-intentioned but poorly executed program, or that it should be scrapped entirely and replaced?

Cohen: Affirmative action has many forms. It can be honorable and right. When it takes the form of outright preference, it is morally wrong and deeply unwise. If preference is what is meant by affirmative action, it should be scrapped entirely, for sure.

What system would you like to see for bolstering admission rates for minorities, if you feel a system is needed at all?

Cohen: To bolster admission rates we need to provide the education – especially early childhood education! That will enable minority applicants to succeed on their own merits.

Do you feel the University of Michigan administration treated you different after publishing your book?

Cohen: No, not at all. I have many friends among our administration; I respect and like them, even when I disagree with them. I think they respect me, as well.

If you could change just one thing about racial preferences in the college admissions process, what would it be?

Cohen: One thing to change about race preference, had I the power? Eliminate it.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Cohen: When admission preference is associated with skin color, the result is the strengthening of the ignorant stereotype that people having skins of that color are intellectually weak. This a canard, but it is reinforced by preference.

Preference in admission is a very bad thing for the minority preferred! It is also morally wrong, because it violates the fundamental principle that the races must be treated equally in a decent society.

College Fix reporter David Hookstead is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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IMAGE: Kijkwijzer

Misogyny is so pervasive on Canadian college campuses that men must be restrained from speaking first in class.

According to UNews, a management professor told a forum at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia that her classes practice “affirmative action” for female students:

“Men should not be allowed to monopolize these forums,” Saint Mary’s University management professor Judy Haiven said. …

Haiven suggested several ideas to combat misogyny, all of them centred on promoting female participation in events.

Her idea that women should always speak first in classroom discussions and at public events was brought up several times during the forum.

The problem is that “women generally don’t come forward and speak up at meetings,” Haiven said:

“We see that there has to be some kind of affirmative action so that women, I hope, take a more active role in the classroom, in running things, in various student affairs. We’ve got a real problem.”

Canada apparently has never heard of Sheryl Sandberg or “leaning in.” (Dalhousie, by the way, is the site of the Facebook “hate sex” suspension.)

But Haiven doesn’t go far enough, according to Jude Ashburn, a “non-binary trans person” who works for a Halifax “gender and sexual resource centre”:

“I think that women of colour should speak first in class,” Ashburn said after the panel discussion. …

“When I do activist circles or workshops, I often say, ‘OK, if you’re white and you look like me and you raise your hand, I’m not going to pick on you before someone of colour.’ So I do give little disclaimers, like people of colour will have priority, or if you’re a person with a disability, you’re pushed to the front … I mean, you know, bros fall back,” Ashburn said with a laugh.

Sounds a lot like the no-whites policy at some Ferguson die-in protests.

Read the UNews article.

h/t greg

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IMAGE: National Archives

Campus radicals shout list of demands, pledge to disrupt meetings until demands met

An aggressive pack of protesters recently stormed a University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting, repeatedly screamed chants to drown out the meeting, got in a physical altercation with security guards that included pushing and shoving, and ultimately forced campus leaders to quickly leave the room under protection of campus security.

The two dozen protesters – some students, some local activists – were led by members of the radical community-based group By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, who had planned the protest publicly for weeks. Referring to the Black Action Movement that famously shut down the University of Michigan in the spring of 1970 as inspiration, BAMN’s efforts ultimately failed to shut down the campus but succeeded in taking over the meeting.

“We are holding the meeting today that is the real meeting, that is the meeting of the students,” lead organizer student Kate Stenvig declared as students and other attendees who came to witness the regent’s meeting began filing out of the room.

Their demands?

“Double Underrepresented Minority Student Enrollment.”

“Jail Killer Cops.”

“Make U of M a Sanctuary Campus – No Immigration & Customs Enforcement on Campus.”

“We’re going to keep shutting these meetings down and having our own meetings until these demands are met,” Stenvig said.

The Nov. 20 coup took place five minutes into the start of the board meeting, as the 20 or so protesters drowned out Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor’s remarks with well-rehearsed chants such as “we don’t need another committee, open it up to Detroit city” and “Minority enrollment’s been going down, open it up or we’ll shut it down.” At times they screamed the chants.

They marched toward the roped off regents’ area, leading to a physical altercation with security that prompted the regents to sneak out the back exit of the Michigan Union’s Anderson Room out of fear for their safety, administrators said at the time. A video taken by The College Fix shows pushing and shoving and other aggressive tactics between protesters and security.


Attendees expressed surprise at BAMN’s actions, many claiming they had never seen a regents meeting shut down in such a manner.

Emboldened by the recent conflict in Ferguson, BAMN has declared that now is the time to take action on their various grievances with the university.

“Ferguson, Missouri has made more than clear that our generation is not apathetic, and that there is boiling and growing anger, bitterness, and frustration in our youth, ready to be unleashed toward this rotten leadership,” said student Jose Alvarenga, a key organizer of the protest.

Another protester pitched in: “We can shut down this campus really quickly. Ferguson has taught us that.”

A central complaint of BAMN members is the perceived failure of the university to provide wholesale admissions access to Detroit students.

“We need action, and in particular, a Texas 10 percent plan for schools in Detroit,” said student organizer Liana Mulholland, referencing a program in Texas where all students who finish in the top 10 percent of their class are guaranteed admission to the state’s public universities.

Administrators have already explained that such a plan could only work in a state-wide university system, which Michigan currently does not have.

Yet one of the more vocal opponents of the perceived “resegregation” was Kevin Wolf, a Jewish freshman who wears a kippah and said he believes that the lack of minority enrollment in some way affects the Jewish community.

“All minorities are connected, all people want to express themselves, who have a rich culture, and don’t just want to blend into the bourgeoisie of America, should stand up, fight back, and declare that we have a right to this campus, and that this campus should be an open place for culture, dialogue, and freedom of expression,” he said.

BAMN shows no signs of stopping, verbally promising continued protests as their plan of action.

“It doesn’t take 40 years to increase minority enrollment, it doesn’t take a suit to increase minority enrollment; it takes shutting down this campus,” announced one African American protestor. It was unclear if he was a student.

“We earned a place in history not because we made the right speeches, or said the right things, but because we took the right actions,”  he added.

After reading their previously stated list of demands, BAMN representatives took a vote regarding whether to endorse them. They passed, unanimously.

On top of this, the university may find itself in legal trouble stemming from this incident, after choosing to conduct the rest of the regents meeting behind closed doors, a potential violation of the Open Meetings Act. President Schlissel has said he’ll refer the matter to legal counsel.

College Fix reporters Samantha Audia and Hunter Swogger co-authored this article.

VIDEO: Hunter Swogger, IMAGE: Samantha Audia