Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Explaining Affirmative Action to a Martian

The following is a hypothetical conversation between an ambivalent earthling and a Martian academic on the topic of Affirmative Action. (The style of the conversation is loosely inspired by a similar one in chapter three of Eliezer Yudkowsky’s book “Inadequate Equilibria”).

visitor: I’ve been sent from my home planet to study your society with a special focus on the earthling concept of “racial discrimination,” which, according to my references, is deeply frowned upon here.

earthling: Indeed. Racial discrimination is one of the worst kind of offenses imaginable.

visitor: From what I’ve learned, it seems that you used to have laws that explicitly made it harder for people of specific races to enter certain spheres of society, especially blacks. But you decided to change those laws about fifty years ago.

earthling: That’s right. It was a deeply shameful part of our history; the effects linger on today. Thankfully, we no longer craft policies that intentionally target specific races and make it harder for them to succeed.

visitor: So I’ve learned. But something began to puzzle me when I started studying your society more closely. I found a study by one of your sociologists that works at a place called Princeton. The study found that Asians had to score 450 points higher on the SAT than blacks, and 140 points higher than whites, to have the same odds of being accepted into elite colleges. I’ve tried to square this fact with what I learned in my textbook––about racially discriminatory policies being viewed as wrong here––but I’ve been unable to. So I’ve come to earth to learn more. What do you know about this racially discriminatory college admission policy?

earthling: Well...I wouldn’t call it “racial discrimination.” The policy you’ve discovered is actually called “Affirmative Action,” and it’s fairly popular.

visitor: Fairly?

earthling: Not everyone likes it. Some people think that it is in fact discriminatory, since it makes the college admissions process harder for Asians than for whites, and harder for whites than for blacks, but people who don’t support the policy don’t understand the historical context, plus, they are generally republicans, which makes me suspect their motives on the topic of race in general.

visitor: Oh ok, I see...So American earthlings don’t have an unconditional rule against racial discrimination. Instead you have a rule like, “Racial discrimination is bad, except in cases where the historical context merits it. In those cases, racial discrimination is good.” Does that about get it right?

earthling: Well, no. It’s never acceptable to discriminate along racial lines. But for blacks, we feel that some Affirmative Action is owed in order to try to compensate for the injustices they suffered in the past. They were brought here in chains from Africa as chattel and held against their will for over two hundred years. Then once slavery ended, they were forced to endure another century of formalized second-class citizenship, lynchings, redlining, and social subjugation. Affirmative Action is the least we could do to partially rectify that injustice.

visitor: Ok I see. That’s the “historical context” you had mentioned earlier, right?

earthling: Yes.

visitor: Ok, I think I understand the principle now: If one group of people was discriminated against in the past, then you institute preferential policies for them in the present. Is that right?

earthling: Sounds about right to me.

visitor: Fascinating...I’ve read in my textbook that the Japanese were also treated quite poorly in this country when they arrived, and were forcibly interned by the tens of thousands in the 1940s. I assume that that would be the kind of historical subjugation that would entitle a group to preferences in the present, right?

earthling: Well, I suppose you could argue that, but we don’t give preferences to Asians––

visitor: Hold on a minute. You mean that these Japanese people are Asians?––the same Asians that have to work harder than blacks and whites to get into elite colleges?

earthling: Well yes...but Asians are somehow doing better than whites on the average anyway, plus they weren’t as oppressed as blacks, so it’s not the same thing.

visitor: Ok, let me get this straight: There’s a threshold of past suffering your group has to meet; and if you meet that threshold, like blacks do, then you get preferences. But if you don’t meet it, like Asians, then, not only do you not get preferences, but you also get discriminated against the most?

earthling: Er...I feel like you’re getting really hung up on finding the one master principle behind Affirmative Action. At the end of the day, the policy is more about increasing diversity on college campuses than about remedying past oppression.

visitor: Diversity? What’s that?

earthling: It basically means that if there were no Affirmative Action––if we didn’t know the race of college applicants––then the elite colleges would have lots of Asians and whites, but not that many blacks and hispanics. So we do what we can to ensure that enough blacks and hispanics make it into elite schools.

visitor: Interesting. So “diversity” is a word that means “the amount of blacks and hispanics that inhabit a given institution”?

earthling: It’s not just about blacks and hispanics. Think of diversity like, “getting the racial composition of the school to look closer to the racial composition of the country as a whole.”

visitor: Oh ok. That clears things up. So earthlings believe something like, “Discrimination––i.e., making specific races have to score higher to get into college––is bad, except when it’s needed to increase diversity. Then it’s good.”

earthling: Uh...again, I wouldn’t call it “discrimination.” That’s a very loaded word here. We prefer to call it “Affirmative Action.”

visitor: So racial discrimination and affirmative action are two different things, then?

earthling: That’s right. One’s bad, and one’s good.

visitor: Let me see if I understand the distinction: Racial discrimination is when you make it harder or easier for people of different races to get into college. Affirmative Action, however, is when you make it harder or easier for people of different races to get into college––specifically to increase diversity. Did I get the distinction right?

earthling: Err...I wouldn’t phrase it that way.

visitor: How would you phrase it?

earthling: Usually we just use the phrase “Affirmative Action,” and everyone knows what we mean by it, so we don’t have to describe the details...

visitor: I don’t understand that...but let’s move on. Help me understand this thing you call “diversity.” Is it essentially a measure of how heterogeneous a population of humans is, in terms of skin color.

earthling: Something like that.

visitor: And humans love diversity more than almost anything?

earthling: Huh?

visitor: Well, I read that racial discrimination, at the level of policy, was one of the most heinous things possible for earthlings to do. But, your society breaks that rule in order to increase diversity. So, you must love diversity more than you hate racial discrimination; and since you really hate discrimination, you must really, really love diversity.

earthling: Oh I see. Well yes, diversity is fantastic; we love it.

visitor: So humans crave diversity. Presumably, then, you seek it out as you would do with any other craving. What kind of things do humans do in order to get more diversity? Do you voluntarily move to neighborhoods full of humans that look different from you? Or do you all move to different countries just to get immersed in different cultures? When you go to college, do you seek out roommates of different races?

earthling: No. Pretty much the opposite of all of that happens. Humans generally prefer those who look like them and share their cultural background. They generally choose to live in communities with people who look like them, everything else held equal. And they tend to not like it when people who look and talk differently enter their space. There are exceptions of course...

visitor: I’m confused, I thought you loved diversity more than almost anything.

earthling: Not exactly. We love diversity in the way we love eating vegetables and going to the doctor, which is to say that we don’t crave it innately, but it’s really good for us, and we can even learn to enjoy it.

visitor: What’s good about it?

earthling: Well, we humans have a tendency to hate the unfamiliar. But if we forcibly expose ourselves to people and ideas that are unfamiliar––through forced (or socially encouraged) diversity initiatives––then we’re less likely to entertain stereotypes about other races and less likely to hate them. Moreover, we get to learn perspectives from unfamiliar cultures which ultimately enriches our understanding of the world. This is one major way that we avoid ethnic hatred, which has been a disastrous and deadly problem for us in recent memory.

visitor: Interesting. So diversity is good because it forces the different races of earthlings to intermingle, thereby preventing ethnic hatred and expanding your perspectives.

earthling: Yes, more or less.

visitor: OK, so interracial mingling is great for society. It prevents ethnic hatred; it introduces people to other perspectives; etc. And that’s why you have to make Asians score 450 extra SAT points to get into the same schools. This much I understand. Since diversity is the rationale for this policy, then, when you get into elite colleges, you are surely encouraged to live with people of other races, right?

earthling: Well, no. Students can’t explicitly request a student of a different race; that would be weird. Plus, there is often exclusive black student housing––

visitor: Black student housing?

earthling: Yeah. It’s housing specifically for black students.

visitor: I’m confused. I thought the reason you had to make Asians score an extra 450 SAT points was so that you could bring more black students in, and the Asians and the whites and the blacks could all intermingle, and society would have less hatred, and more diverse perspectives.

earthling: Well, that’s true. But black students began to demand race-specific student housing after the civil rights movement, and administrations agreed. Plus, they demanded African American studies departments––

visitor: Wait a minute. So an Asian person has to score an extra 450 points so that a black person can come to an elite college, live with only other black people, and major in their own culture. All this, to increase social and intellectual mingling between ethnic groups? I’m confused…

earthling: Well, it’s not that simple. Historical context is key here. Black people were enslaved and subjugated for centuries, so, sometimes they get special dispensations. It’s only fair.

visitor: Oh ok, I see. So those black kids at Harvard and Yale, they were enslaved and subjugated, so they get to score 450 points lower than Asians?

earthling: Well, these particular black students didn’t experience slavery or Jim Crow themselves...they were born in the late 90s and early aughts. Neither did their parents experience these oppressive systems. But their grandparents might have experienced Jim Crow.

visitor: Might have?

earthling: Well, around half of black students at elite colleges are actually the children of black immigrants, so they have no ancestral connection to American slavery or Jim Crow. But the other half do.

visitor: Hmmm...I have to be honest here. I’m getting a PhD at the top university on Mars, and I’ve gotten a MacMartian Genius grant to do groundbreaking research on earthling policy, but I’m utterly confused by you creatures.

Let me paint the picture of this conversation, as I see it. 

First, you said that groups that experienced oppression in the past should get preferences in the present. But that rationale failed because Asians––who experienced lynching in the 19th century and internment in the 20th––have to work harder than white people, who did not experience such oppression.

Then you shifted to the diversity rationale. In this view, the reason for making Asians score 450 more points was because we need to increase diversity, which is the societal equivalent of eating vegetables and going to the doctor. But then that rationale also failed, because when black students get to these colleges, they are allowed, and even encouraged, to not live with other races––that is, to not contribute to the very diversity that formed the rationale for their being given higher odds of getting in to begin with.

Plus, there is no white housing for white students, which is another double-standard. You justified that double-standard by bringing back the historical oppression rationale, which I thought you had retired––even as you conceded that around half of the black students at elite schools have no ancestral connection to American slavery or Jim Crow. Due to all of these contradictions, I’m struggling to find the principle that squares the claim that earthlings hate racial discrimination with the fact that you practice it more or less openly.

earthling: Slow your roll there fella...we earthlings may not be perfect, but we think things through more thoroughly then you’re making it seem. I’ll grant you that Affirmative Action isn’t perfect. Maybe we shouldn’t have made exclusive racial housing, but, for political reasons, we can’t undo that now. The diversity rationale for Affirmative Action works fine in theory; it’s just that we haven’t implemented it perfectly in practice. But name a policy that has ever implemented its ideal perfectly. We humans have learned to settle for good enough. We don’t let the best become the enemy of the good. Can’t you see that?

visitor: Here’s what I don’t get: Let’s say you have a black kid––Brandon––and an Asian kid––Alex. Brandon’s middle-class and his parents are Nigerian immigrants. Alex is also middle-class, his parents experience some discrimination for being Asian, and his grandparents were unjustly interned in WWII.

Brandon and Alex both apply to Harvard, their dream school. Both of them experienced microaggressions growing up, Brandon for being black, and Alex for being Asian. They have identical extracurriculars––in fact, their applications are identical in every way, except for SAT scores. Alex’s scores are significantly higher. Nevertheless, Brandon gets accepted, and Alex gets rejected solely because of his race––the race that he was born into by no choice of his own. Moreover, a white kid with the same SAT score as Alex and identical extracurriculars also got accepted to Harvard just because he had the good luck not to be born Asian. And this instance of racial discrimination is justified by the fact that Brandon’s presence on campus will provide a diverse perspective and an antidote to ethnic hatred, even though Brandon can, if he wants, choose to live only amongst other blacks. Earthlings claim to care about equal treatment and diversity, and yet you undermine both at the same time! Where is the principle behind this?

earthling: When you construct an example that specific, then I’ll grant you that the policy seems unprincipled, but that’s just a thought experiment you created. What if Brandon doesn’t choose black student housing and indeed contributes to the diversity of campus? Then wouldn’t Affirmative Action be achieving its goal?

visitor: Sure, but let’s take it one step further. What if Brandon joined the conservative student group on campus, thus contributing the most bang-for-his-buck, diversity-wise?

earthling: Huh?

visitor: Well, the reason diversity is good is that it brings in new perspectives and prevents stereotyping in spaces that would otherwise skew very white, correct?

earthling: Yeah...

visitor: So a black student could do the most good––vis-a-vis diversity––if he joined the conservative club, which probably skews more white than anywhere else on campus.

Well technically yes. But if Brandon joined the conservative club, he would get shunned by the other black students on campus; he’d get called slurs like “uncle tom” behind his back. They would say he’s in the “sunken place,” or that he’s a “contrarian” or that he’s “selling out.”

visitor: I don’t understand.

earthling: For various social-psychological reasons that we don’t need to get into, blacks socially punish conservative members of their race.

visitor: You earthlings baffle me. You discriminate against a certain historically oppressed group––Asians––and in favor of another historically oppressed group––blacks––all in the name of increasing the social and intellectual mingling between the races. Then you employ all kinds of institutional and social practices that decrease mingling between the races. And when this gets pointed out, you excuse the illogic by reference to the fact that half of the blacks on campus have ancestors who experienced oppression, as if you’re not simultaneously discriminating against Asians, who also have ancestors that experienced oppression. Does no one complain about the illogic of this?

earthling: Many Asians and whites have quietly resented this policy for a while. Some Asians are suing Harvard now.

visitor: Interesting. Aren’t they worried about reducing diversity?

earthling: I’m not sure. They might love diversity, for all I know. But they love being treated fairly more.

visitor: What would happen if you stopped discriminating against these Asians?

earthling: It happened in California in the mid 90s. Affirmative Action was gutted practically overnight.

visitor: Oh dear. There must have been massive ethnic violence and a crippling lack of social and intellectual diversity. It must have been awful.

earthling: Well no...none of that happened. But the people who ended the policy were accused of being racists, which imposed a steep cost on their social status, so those people were harmed, in a sense.

visitor: Huh? So they stopped discriminating against a historically oppressed minority––Asians––and they were called racist for it?

earthling: Essentially, yes.

visitor: I don’t understand. I thought ending discriminatory policies was the exact opposite of racism. If the charge of racism was inaccurate, then why did the people that were being called racists care? If you called me a Neptunian, I would not be cowed into obeying your policy demands. I would simply correct your factual error and be on my merry, Martian way.

earthling: It’s not that simple. If you’re a racist, your social status decreases precipitously. But in a country of 350 million, it’s impossible for everyone to figure out who is racist and who isn’t––time and effort are in limited supply. So we use heuristics––that is, rules-of-thumb––to figure out which accusations are true. Here’s one heuristic: if several black people call you a racist on the internet, you’re a racist. Of course we understand, in the abstract, that this heuristic will misfire sometimes. But as long as the noise (i.e. errors) doesn’t crowd out the signal, then we can treat the rule as if it were actually true.

visitor: Interesting. I wonder if these heuristics could be abused? I could imagine that black people, due to the ascendance of this particular heuristic, could get anything they wanted, however unprincipled, by simply getting enough people on the internet to call someone/something racist. They wouldn’t even need to be consciously motivated by cynicism to abuse this power; the abuse of the heuristic could just emerge as a natural social phenomenon.

earthling: Yes, that happens. But that would lead to diminishing returns. As more false accusations of racism came to light, the noise would crowd out the signal, and the heuristic would lose credibility overtime. Some people would notice this, and might even begin to develop the counter-heuristic: if several black people call someone a racist on the internet, they are not a racist, and are probably interesting.

visitor: But the counter-heuristic could be abused too, right?

earthling: Sure, in theory. Someone could say something that will get them called a racist by several blacks in order to be thought interesting and brave by the subset of people who have adopted the counter-heuristic. But they would do this at a great cost in social status among the people who retain the mainstream heuristic. That’s a tradeoff that most people, it seems, wouldn’t take. Moreover, because people know that both the main heuristic and the counter-heuristic can be abused, people from both sides can accuse the other of using an imperfect heuristic instead of addressing their actual arguments.

visitor: So, at the end of the day, the main reason you can’t stop making Asians score an extra 450 points on the SAT is that any individual who opposes Affirmative Action will suffer decreased social status, due to being called racist? So Affirmative Action––this racially discriminatory policy justified in the name of principles that you don’t consistently adhere to, like “diversity” and “remedying historical injustice”––is mainly governed not by any principle at all, but rather by social status regulation?

earthling: Welcome to Earth.


  1. Another home run for Coleman Hughes.

  2. Coleman Hughes is a brilliant writer. The first time I read one of his articles, I found it to be exceptionally logical, clear, and insightful. I assumed it was written by Steven Pinker. To my delight, I saw it was written by a Conservative, Millennial Black man.

    1. Is he a conservative? I haven't heard him say so.

      Rejecting aspects of liberal orthodoxy does not in itself make one a conservative.

    2. Having just read the blog post, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that it does not matter whether he is conservative, Millennial, black or male. I think he might be a Martian, though.

    3. Brilliant, Milkchaser!

    4. He considers himself a liberal (according to a Sam Harris podcast he recently did) but by today's standards he admits that the far-left would consider him "conservative" for his views.

    5. He voted for Hilary, actually

  3. The best explanation ANYONE could have written

  4. I'd love to see his South African version.

  5. This is... Incredible.

  6. Very well done!

  7. Wow Fantastic piece of writing well thought out

  8. I suppose the conclusion is that Affirmative Action persists because of the bystander effect. Responsibility for standing up against it doesn't belong to any one person, it's diffused, so nobody acts. Also, people look around and see nobody else standing up, so they think that perhaps there is no actual problem, or that they're the only person that thinks there is a problem. So, pluralistic ignorance.

  9. You are definitely a white supremacist Oh wait ..

  10. Critical thinking at its best. Great job!

  11. Was the visitor in the dialogue actually Tom Wolfe?

  12. This reminds me a little bit of a conversation I heard with the founder of Resumator (which I believe is now JazzHR). He said something along the lines of every black person has experience racism at some point and time, but most every white person has been falsely accused of racism at some point and time.

    1. Both of those are most probably accurate assuming the number of interactions people have throughout life. I think it’s fair to say everyone has experienced racism multiple times before. A lot of the frequency depends on where one lives, things one does, one’s job, & one’s behavior. The frequency of the false impression of racism depends on the same, how one acts and who they interact with. I’d be dumbfounded if any adult in a non-homogeneous environment hasn’t experienced both.

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  14. Mars must be a patriarchal, green-supremacist planet, the way they turn to honesty and logic to discredit helpless ideologies like ours... Nazis!

  15. I'm really curious when somebody will come up with the brilliant idea of considering Jewish SAT scores on a curve.

    1. Yeah, and Native Americans? Plenty of history there...

  16. Affirmative action never left California, it is alive and well and preventing the top students from getting admitted to UC and State schools, which since they are now diploma mills maybe it is best if the top students look for alternative schools.

  17. Ah yes. Great article, Coleman. I look forward to reading more of your work.

    I wonder what the ethnographic make up of top universities would look like if strictly merit were admission's basis. (Additional thought experiment: would that cause any unintended social consequences - If there were much fewer blacks and whites and more asians? *I'm not defending affirmative action, just curious)

    1. I wonder that too.

      If we did that, then that would be where the IQ/culture debate would take over, and would likely produce a wealth of sociological research on what it takes to raise high-performing kids.

      Unfortunately, that will undoubtedly give more weight to the idea that some cultures instill high-performing habits better than other cultures, and (even more controversially), that some people are simply more suited to succeed in top-university settings because of things like IQ, conscientiousness, agreeableness, etc., and that these traits may or may not be very amenable to intervention on our part.

      And all of this would either help confirm or dispute the claim that the aforementioned characteristics might occur at different rates in different races, and our society is nowhere near mature enough to handle that conversation yet.

      Even to ask is to branded untouchable by so many people.

  18. Very strong, satirical and depressing piece, Coleman. Keep at it...

    1. You’re a hero of mine Glenn. I was made aware of you when you did the Waking Up podcast. Your personally original nuanced opinions, that arnt concerned with the leanings of any grain, inspire me to carefully think for myself, uninhabited by anyone’s talking points(I wanted to express all those things but that was a rough sentence). Your expressed uncertainty about some issues you voice opinions on is honest in away everyone could be but few are. I count you as a role model for my personal interactions. Thank you.

  19. Excellent work, Coleman. Thank you.

  20. Beautiful conversation, Coleman! Keep up the good work!

  21. Witty, intelligent, thorough. Proper bloody writing sir, much appreciated!

  22. Very insightful and beautifully written, but please, PLEASE replace ‘earthling’ and put ‘American’ instead.

    For somebody opening a discussion on diversity, you’re blatantly ignoring how much racial policy varies in the rest of the world—for better or worse. Said otherwise, the speaker does not represent the Earth at all, just a—surprise, surprise—minority.

  23. Haha very well done. It reminds me of the time I explained slavery to the UK's Equality and Human Right's Commission when I applied for the Top Job

    EHRC BC: Er, yes. What would you plan to do about the victims of racism, colonialism and slavery? Reparations?

    CC: There is a case for active efforts to deal with all communities who have suffered those horrors in living memory. So I would push for that. We can’t do everything, so at the risk of being selective or judgemental I would aim to focus ECHR help on the one large UK ethnic community who have suffered the most.

    EHRC BC: Sounds good! Bangladeshis? Tamils? Muslims? Palestinians? Sexual and other minorities within those very communities?

    CC: No. I mean Poles....

  24. This made me crack up: 'diversity is a word that means “the amount of blacks and hispanics that inhabit a given institution”?'

    Wow that's so true. You are such a good writer you should be putting out articles for or something!

  25. Hello Mr Hughes, Mary Wakefield at the London Spectator here. Would you send me an email? I'd like to run your martian dialogue as a feature if I may.

  26. I am a white European woman living in the US quite frankly fearful about the rising sectarianism that I see all around me.
    Should I become a US citizen, or is it too much of a gamble?
    Specifically: what will affirmative action look like in 15 years time if the universities double down on their diversity/activism agendas?
    Will my three-year-old son be able to get to university - a university education that once meant a ticket to the middle class -
    Or will he be denied entry to good schools because of his fraudulent Y chromosome, aka his ‘unearned white male privilege’?
    This is an extreme scenario, I know, but
    To the social justice warriors: where are we going with all of this?
    Does achieving ‘equality’ simply mean ‘getting equal’?
    Balancing the ‘historical moral ledger’ by denying opportunities to a broad group of people (with unique histories/ethnic/religious/traditions etc) who can be dismissed wholesale under the blanket pejorative ‘white’?

    The media was up in arms when Trump made his terrible comment about not wanting immigrants from ‘‘shit hole’ countries, but quite honestly - are those of us from ‘non-shitholes’ all that welcome either?

    1. Males at middle and some lower level schools will be getting affirmative action themselves, as they try to keep from getting too female-heavy. At top schools, they will continue to keep near parity with the male/female ratio

      Being male just isn't a problem the way being Asian is.

  27. So on point. Luckily my children are 50% white, 25% Asian and 25% black so they can claim their “oppressed dna” when they enter the diversity lotteries—of education, grants, certain careers. If a United States senator can claim minority status (and reap the rewards her white skin could not) because of high cheekbones then my kids are set.

    Clarence Thomas wrote about the impact of affirmative action in his life in his autobiography. He describes how he had to prove to his peers at every step he was their equal. As a woman mathematician, my experience mirrors his resentment of the policy. I hate thinking for a second that I got into my doctorate program because of my gender, but I’m sure it helped. Like Thomas, it at times made me feel I wasn’t good enough to be in my field, and had to prove my worth than any male I’ve worked with. I blame them—but can fault the system (affirmative action—or in my math world—gender whatever you call it).

    I so enjoy your writing! Keep it up!

  28. Funny, it's a concept easy enough to explain to my kids with this picture.

    1. You've clearly missed one of the main foci of this piece. Clearly, Asians have been discriminated against simply because they have outperformed historically expected levels given the historical oppression against them. It would be "unfair" to provide additional "action" in favor of Asians or specific Asian groups that have been harmed in the past yet it is considered "fair" to continue harmful discrimination against them by choosing those minorities that are failing to outperform Asians. Perhaps you could explain how this contradiction is explained in your picture?

      The ultimate conclusion of this piece is that "affirmative action" doctrine cares less about actual performance or improvements than the social status deemed to those who approve (or disapprove) of such policies. While there's no evidence given to support this claim anecdotally it seems reasonably likely.

      Ultimately, we're talking about unintended consequences of market distorting decisions. There might be a place for Affirmative Action in effective social policy but when it degrades into a discussion of whether someone is racist or not then the problem becomes whether or not these discussions can even take place without a kind of mob mentality taking over.

      I watched this Vice piece yesterday on black professional bull riders and how the only top black bullrider is retiring and one of the up and coming younger black bullriders is struggling to balance the financial challenges of being pro when he hasn't won enough money to stay on the tour and support himself. You could argue about this all day long but at the end of the day the market simply doesn't support him because he's 1) failing to perform well enough and 2) he doesn't have the "demographic" support that would allow him to fund himself compared to some of the Instagram "athletes" that spend more time promoting their bodies than their skills. It's not fair, but similar to this, it's also not "just" for the government to attempt to socially engineer what's deemed a more "optimal" outcome for school diversity. It's morally right to step in to prevent and stop injustice but trying to engineer "diversity" is just as ludicrous as the argument in this piece. I could go on and on using sports as an example.

      Clearly, there's a place where the "action" belongs and it seems pretty obvious to reasonable people who have had interactions with "oppressed" minorities at varying levels of childhood development that the problem starts much earlier than college (i.e. before birth) and simply throwing an underprepared kid into a place they don't belong is a recipe for continued generational failure (and continued perceived victimhood) and misguided resource allocation.

      You could for example take more reasonable and methodical approaches to creating generational change 1) help communities with high rates of teen pregnancies lower them 2) provide the necessary social support for communities with high rates of drug use, gang activity, and/or teen pregnancy to choose activities that lead to positive social and psychologically healthy outcomes (i.e. sports, math club, video games, whatever). This has been programmatically done in Iceland and copied in other places using a very specific methodology.

      I would hope that you actually spend more time on the complexities of such subjects with your kids rather than misrepresenting them with overly simplistic cartoons. No human is omniscient and you don't need to be religious to know this. Teasing out the solutions to complex social problems will never be reduced to a cartoon.

  29. you do know that your work is now being used by the far right and white supremacists? if only you had done some proper research instead of skimming the service perhaps you would have a deeper understanding of what is actually going on.

    1. the irony of your comment is that you've accused him of "skimming the surface" when you fail to address exactly what you consider to be flawed in his piece. If you're throwing down rhetoric into a carefully wrought polemic then your process is no different than a Trump twitter rant.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. So is the far-right correct? If so, demolish him and them. Or is this piece correct, and it happens to align with their beliefs? In which case you have to concede the far-right is correct about something

    4. Sorry, first sentence should be "incorrect"

  30. This isn't very good. We can agree that Affirmative Action isn't a perfect policy, but comparing black American discrimination (historically speaking) to Japanese discrimination, doesn't make any sense. You'd be better off using Native Americans instead. That's more comparable. Also, there's a lot of conjecture in here.

  31. haha, I enjoyed this. Good work :)

  32. Postscript: Asians such as Mindy Kayling's brother changed their race to black,, which is permissible because people are allowed self declare, there is no empirical test to determine race, and it's logically coherent in line with the structure of social reasoning about identities,

    To beat the system you have to subvert it using its rules against it.

  33. The link to the SAT score study mentioned early on has gone stale.
    I believe this is the correct link now:

  34. bruh,

    you need to try harder with this. racial discrimination is not the same for every race. the slurs are not the same, the stereotypes are not the same, and the internal and external expectations are not the same.

    each culture is different. South Korea and China have rigorous education systems. it is no surprise, then, that those cultural values are maintained if citizens of those countries were to emigrate to America.

    education is a challenge in inner cities. after all, black people have had to survive for thousands of years without knowing how to read or write. until recently, it was not a cultural value.

    worse than your arguments is your ability to speak for people who did not ask you to represent them.

    brian simontacchi

  35. Good one. Now time to analyze the Malaysian experience where the Chinese and Indians are discriminated against by the previous Malay government who call themselves "bumiputera" or sons of the soil, but exclude the aborigines. You'll find fun analyzing the inconsistencies there too!

  36. Thought provoking piece, both in its style and substance. Two parts stood out for me: (1) that around half of the black students at elite schools have no ancestral connection to American slavery or Jim Crow; and (2) Asian Alex and Nigerian Brandon example. I also wasn't aware of just how much the arguments relating to affirmative action hedged on diversity arguments. But what if affirmative action was based not on race but on class? For example, to increase enrolment of low income students - especially from one parent households - who, despite the odds, and perhaps not exceptional high SAT scores, still managed to excel in school relative to their peers?