The Supreme Court has
announced it`s going to rule on the
constitutionality of the University of Michigan`s racial
preference system. A few observations:
1] The University
defends its quota system by claiming that "diversity"
improves all students` educations. But an upcoming
International Journal of Public Opinion Research article
called "Does enrollment diversity improve university
education?" by social science heavyweights Stanley
Rothman, Seymour Martin Lipset and Neil Nevitte will
blast that claim out of the water. (The first draft was
accidentally distributed on the Internet last October.)
2] When racial
diversity is achieved through racial favoritism,
intellectual diversity turns out to be the victim.
“Political Correctness” is inevitable when many
students, faculty, and administrators are on campus only
because of their race. They naturally feel a little
touchy. That`s why even
printing the fact that the university uses racial
preferences has become an
offense punishable by
newspaper-stealing. (In contrast, the University of
Utah is rapidly becoming a global leader in the human
sciences, such as
anthropology, in part because its
nondiverse student body allows for more honest
3] The "Diversity"
mantra also demands conformity among colleges
i.e. uniformly “diverse” student bodies. Practically the
only top school in America that seems to believe in
colorblind meritocracy is Caltech. And, now that fact
has gotten out, this most rigorous of science and
engineering schools is under
siege (see also
here) for not admitting more black students,
regardless of whether they would flunk out.
4] It`s widely assumed that standardized tests such
as the SAT unfairly penalize black students, who would
get good grades if only they were admitted. But standardized
tests actually overestimate black performance.
"On average, test scores overpredict the later
performance of blacks compared to whites, especially at
the right tail [the highest
level of test scores]. This result holds for
colleges, professional schools, and job performance. If
a black and a white have the same test scores and prior
grades, at right tail institutions the black will on
average do about a third to two-thirds of a standard
deviation worse in later academic performance than the
white. In this sense, test scores are not predictively
biased against blacks."
attempt to explain this. The simplest: blacks tend to
have a poorer work ethic. In telling contrast, the SAT
underpredicts the grades of Asian students, arguably
because they have better work ethic.
typical conservative ploy is to denounce racial
preferences as racist against blacks. John
McWhorter, for example,
says, "College-admissions committees … basically
are saying that blacks can`t compete in the truly
decisive arena: the classroom." But this cute
soundbite doesn`t get us very far.
fundamental problem: everybody (whites conservatives,
white liberals, blacks, guys who just got off the 747
from Bangalore, everybody) knows that, yes,
indeed, without racial quotas of one sort or another,
few blacks would get into a highly selective institution
such as the University of Michigan law school. (Here`s
a long article from Commentary Magazine
African American scores about one standard deviation
below the white mean on most tests of mental ability,
whether formal examinations or everyday life challenges.
(This has been called "fundamental
constant of sociology” in America.)
institutions recruit from among people who score at
least two standard deviations above the white mean
(e.g., IQ=130 or SAT of somewhere around 1300, using the
easier scoring system of the last half decade). About 17
times more whites per capita will qualify than blacks.
Since there are almost six times as many whites as
blacks in this country, the white to black ratio in
elite institutions would thus be about 100 to 1.
(I get asked
about this a lot, so here`s how you can do these
calculations yourself using Microsoft Excel and its
handy "=Normdist" function. To find the percentage of
whites scoring above 130 [it`s 2.28%], click on
"Insert," then "Functions," then "Statistical," then "Normdist,"
and fill in the blanks. For whites, Set X = 130, Mean =
100, Standard Deviation = 15, and Cumulative = True.
Then, do it again for blacks [it`s 0.13%], this time
setting Mean = 85.)
6] No matter what
the Supreme Court says, the bureaucrats just aren`t
going to let the level of black participation in elite
institutions drop back to the colorblind level. They
are staging "massive resistance" – just as in the Jim
Crow South after Brown v. Board of Education.
For example, my alma
mater, Rice University in Houston, has supposedly been
prevented from using racial preferences since the 1996
federal appeals court ruling in the Hopwood case.
But, as Jacques Steinberg has just reported in the
New York Times ("Using
Synonyms for Race, College Strives for Diversity,”
December 6), Rice uses blatant subterfuges to violate
the intention of the court:
"But like other colleges, Rice says it remains
fiercely committed to having a diverse student body, so
in the years since, it has developed creative, even sly
ways to meet that goal and still obey the court. Thus
the admissions committee, with an undisguised wink, has
encouraged applicants to discuss "cultural traditions"
in their essays, asked if they spoke English as a second
language and taken note, albeit silently, of those
identified as presidents of their black student
“`You can no longer say to the committee, `This is a
great African-American from New York,` ` said Julie M.
Browning, the dean for undergraduate enrollment at
Rice. `You have to drop a lot of language associated
with affirmative action.` Instead, Ms. Browning said,
the admissions team at Rice has developed a whole new
vocabulary — including the overarching goal of achieving
`cultural inclusiveness` in the student body — to
justify its admissions decisions."
This is particularly
galling to me because Rice students follow the old
tradition of an "honor code." Students
pledge not to cheat. In return, they are accorded
privileges such as being allowed to take home closed
book tests and complete them at their convenience.
spirit of the honor code does not apply to the Rice
7] In conclusion,
it`s important to keep affirmative action for blacks in
perspective, however. African Americans make up only one
eighth of the U.S. population. They are currently
growing rapidly in numbers, but that rate of increase
will be leveling off.
real danger to American unity comes from the
combination of racial/ethnic preferences and ceaseless
immigration. Already, according to Ward Connerly, the
subverting of California`s Proposition 209 is more
driven by the legislature`s
Latino Caucus than its Black Caucus.
Solutions? There is
no single magic bullet. But we`ll have to constantly
keep working on all of the following if we want to
prevent eventual Kosovo-style trouble in America:
- Lower immigration
- Better immigrants
who won`t need preferences to succeed
- Abolition of
affirmative action for immigrants
- Court victories
victories against preferences
De-emphasis of higher education as the only road to
[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and
December 08, 2002