That's Affirmative

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'"I can't speak for white people, but that's crazy," said Adoma Adjei-Brenyah, a Columbia University student with college-educated parents from Ghana.'

The entire article by CARA ANNA, Associated Press Writer is reprinted below. It was published 4/30/07:

NEW YORK - Something in the crowd made Shirley Wilcher wonder. As a college graduate in the early 1970s, her black classmates were like herself — born in the United States, to American parents. But at an alumni reunion at Mount Holyoke College last year, she saw something different and asked for admissions data to prove it.


"My suspicions were confirmed," said Wilcher, now the executive director of the American Association for Affirmative Action. She found a rise in the number of black students from Africa and the Caribbean, and a downturn in admissions of native blacks like her.

A study released this year put numbers on the trend. Among students at 28 top U.S. universities, the representation of black students of first- and second-generation immigrant origin (27 percent) was about twice their representation in the national population of blacks their age (13 percent). Within the Ivy League, immigrant-origin students made up 41 percent of black freshmen.

Wilcher would like to know why. She asks if her cause has lost its way on U.S. campuses, with the goal of correcting American racial injustices replaced by a softer ideal of diversity — as if any black student will do.

The study, published in the American Journal of Education, found no definitive answer as to why the change is happening. However, "folks I know personally who have worked in admissions have told me that they weren't surprised," said Camille Charles, a University of Pennsylvania professor who wrote the study with three Princeton University professors.

The researchers looked at data from a national survey of 1,028 freshmen at 28 top colleges and universities in 1999. The eight-year-old material was used because it was specially designed to help find reasons for underachievement by minorities at colleges and universities.

In terms of student background, it found few differences, noting only that far more black immigrant students had fathers with college or advanced degrees than did other black students.

But the authors suggested that the reason for high proportion of immigrant students may lie in how the students are perceived.

"To white observers, black immigrants seem more polite, less hostile, more solicitous, and 'easier to get along with,'" the study said. "Native blacks are perceived in precisely the opposite fashion."

That idea immediately found detractors.

"I can't speak for white people, but that's crazy," said Adoma Adjei-Brenyah, a Columbia University student with college-educated parents from Ghana.

The director of public policy for the National Association for College Admission Counseling agreed. "I reject the notion that admissions officers are somehow deliberately doing this," David Hawkins said.

One legal expert explained the bump in black immigrants by saying that now, decades since the civil rights movement's peak, college diversity is aimed less at correcting American racial injustices and more at creating a variety of perspectives on campus.

Besides, "how many colleges and universities are looking to stand up and say, 'I'm continuing not to cure the problems of the past?'" said Arthur Coleman, a lawyer who co-wrote "Admissions and Diversity After Michigan: The Next Generation of Legal and Policy Issues."

Students agreed the subject of native vs. immigrant background remains sensitive.

Last month, a Harvard Black Students Association message board asked, "When we use the term 'black community,' who is included in this description?" A lively debate ensued, with some posters complaining that African students were getting an admissions boost without having faced the historical suffering of U.S. blacks.

Jason Lee, the Harvard group's president, echoed another thought in the discussion. "There's a historical sense that black Americans are disrespected by immigrants," he said. "Parents don't want their kids to play with them, don't want bad habits rubbing off on them. There's a bit of tension there."

But Adjei-Brenyah, the president of the African Students Association at Columbia, argued that drawing an admissions distinction based on suffering under slavery is false. "If you're going to make a slavery case, people from the Caribbean were also displaced and enslaved. How do you begin to differentiate?" he said.

The issue of native vs. immigrant blacks took hold at Harvard in 2004, when professors Henry Louis Gates and Lani Guinier pointed out at a black alumni reunion that a majority of attendees were of African or Caribbean origin. Gates and Guinier cited demographic information in the "Black Guide to Life at Harvard," a survey of 70 percent of black undergraduates published by the BSA.

In part because of the issue, native black alumni have distanced themselves from Harvard, Lee said. That means fewer are conducting admissions interviews with prospective American-born black students, Lee said, so interviewers from other backgrounds, including immigrant backgrounds, step in.

"I think in that situation, perceptions could come into play," Lee said.

The Harvard admissions office declined comment.

The second edition of the "Black Guide" is being prepared now, and Lee expects another angry response — if the university releases the updated information.

So far, he said, Lee said, it has not.

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47 Comments

Ron said:

It's as crazy as Benjamin Cardozo having been the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice!

Jack said:

Well, let's think. Who's immigrating from Africa? Is it the poor people who cannot afford to feed themselves, much less go through the process of immigrating to the United States, or is it the relatively well-educated "with college or advanced degrees" that can afford to come here?

These are not poor, illiterate Mexicans sneaking across the border at night. They are educated, motivated people who want the best for their children. I was priviledged to have such a student once when I taught in a Catholic high school. His first day in school, the teachers saw this VERY large, VERY black young man with a high-top fade. The general consensus was, "I hope I don't get him as an advisee." Well, I got him. He was well-spoken, hard working, and an all-around nice kid.

stay puft marshmallow man said:

yeah, and since African nations are the pinnacle of fair and democratic societies, where with hard work and determination anyone can gain access to resources and opportunities, we should assume that anyone who can't afford to come here is a worthless f***up, anyway.

"The general consensus was, "I hope I don't get him as an advisee.""

really? That's interesting, since racism isn't an issue in America anymore.

Jack said:

"...we should assume that anyone who can't afford to come here is a worthless f***up, anyway."

Where did that outburst come from, puffalump?

stay puft marshmallow man said:

outburst? isn't that what you say? we only allow in the best and the brightest, and the others have failed to demonstrate that they are worthy of coming to the US?

seems like you've used this "logic" in the immigration debate in the past...

Jack said:

No, puffalump, it's a matter of having the resources and connections to bribe the local authorities to allow you to apply for a U.S. Visa.

Kevin said:

What about the problem here, though?

stay puft marshmallow man said:

yes it's a problem, people complain loudly that AA amounts to handouts, and all the usual, and the end result is that certain voices continue to be excluded from classroom discussions

It definitely turns affirmative action on its head and might be a good reason to finally abandon it: How do you justly differentiate between poor blacks from America, wealthy blacks from Africa, and poor blacks from Haiti? What categorization do you use for providing preferences once skin color has to be abandoned?

Low income? Lack of education? REGARDLESS OF COLOR?

Kevin said:

And who's being ACTIVELY excluded and how? I find it fascinating. You can't seem to tell from the article but is it by lack of application or are just as many applying but can't afford it, supply the grades?

I love how it says they found no definitive reason but that they seem to suggest that "To white observers, black immigrants seem more polite, less hostile, more solicitous, and 'easier to get along with,'" the study said. "Native blacks are perceived in precisely the opposite fashion." I would love to get a hold of that study.

stay puft said:

Joe,

when a group of students sit around a table, and a professor leads a discussion on some issue relating to overcoming the problems facing the country, who benefits from the exclusion of the voices of those who have historically been left behind in America.

America's future leaders are receiving an education in exclusivity. how can we come together when we continue to be segregated? we have urban planning classes full of students from the suburbs!

Jack said:

And what good will it do them if affirmative action gets them in when they are not qualified? They will fail out, and just be poorer for the experience.

Robin said:

Education should reflect the society at large. While AA is on a downturn in the marketplace and people are (supposedly) being judged on skill alone. It is lawful that diversity be considered at the educational level. It is a global arena and students will need to learn to deal with people of the global economy.

Jack said:

By that thinking, Robin, is it not good that the Black slots are being taken by Africans, to get more "global diversity"?

stay puft said:

Jack your claim is totally unfounded.

as to your more recent post, it is good to have Africans. But there's still the problem of some minorities being underrepresented.

It could be different for an area of study like engineering, but at least in social sciences, a diverse group of people who can approach a problem from different angles is more beneficial (comes up with better solutions/outcomes) than a room full of eggheads. There's a whole literature on this

Jack said:

"Social Sciences" are not sciences.

stay puft said:

I thought you'd say that!

the body of legitimate knowledge in this world doesn't extend beyond your own skin!

Jack said:

Don't be silly, knowledge can be gained by study, which is why we called them Social STUDIES when I was in school. The Scientific Method is not applicable to Social Studies, so they are not sciences.

Kevin said:

""Social Sciences" are not sciences." Um, duh, Jack. Didn't you read the first two sentences of the wikipedia entry for "social sciences"?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_sciences
Ha!! The great wiki. However, I know a public health PhD student who would argue vehemently against your assertion, and likely would mop the floor with you (and I).

jacob said:

Kevin,
How does a sociologist measure 'ignorance'. Or a Psycologist measure 'apathy'.

stay puft said:

statistically, fool

Anonymous said:

Oh go bark up a another tree, jacob. Why do you come at me as though I'm disagreeing with Jack? Go read my reply again, you attack dog.

I would surmise a sociologist would measure ignorance, or a psychologist would measure apathy, both each by operationlising the definitions of such. In theory if you defined apathy as x, y, and z then you should technically be able to study it.

And don't get into the argument of language with me. A freakin' "neutron" could just as easily have been named "electron" for all anybody cares, it would still have the same properties that we currently ascribe (in our profound understanding of molecular physics) to a "neutron".

Measuring and causation are two different things. If you want to create apathy, well, that's a whole other discussion.

Kevin said:

That last comment was mine.

Kevin said:

"which is why we called them Social STUDIES when I was in school. The Scientific Method is not applicable to Social Studies, so they are not sciences." And they're not called "social STUDIES" anymore. When I was in social studies class in elementary school it was more similar to history.

I believe there may have been one or two advances in the social sciences since your time. The most amazing of which have occured in the field of neuroscience. And, indeed, the addition of applying the scientific method to many areas in the social science field.

You can still call them "soft science" if you like. It pisses my friend off to no end, which is fun.

jacob said:

kevin,
it was actually just a question. I was curious what you would say.

Marshmallow,
There are lies, damn lies and then statistics. Fool indeed.

Kevin said:

grrr. I haven't had a cigarette in nearly a month. Best watch yo ass.

jacob said:

Kevin,
I'll take my chances.

I work in a hard science kind of field. I see how indirect extimates of what is not directly observable get misused.

The soft sciences actually are dealing with matters that are far more difficult to quantify and measure directly. So the problems are only compounded.

stay puft said:

ok, the existence of that expression proves that you are correct.

you don't know what you're talking about. I can't believe I'm debating this nonsense with you

Jack said:

First of all, Kevin, you meant to say, "and ME" (objective case), not "and I" (nominative case).

Second, if it will make your friend's ego feel any better, I do not consider my own Ph.D. studies, Astrophysics, to be a true science, either. Why? Because I cannot set up and conduct controlled, repeatable experiments. I can only observe what God has given me to observe. Computer simulations don't count, either, because they cannot be tested by controlled, repeatable experiments. Controlled, repeatable experiments are the heart of the scientific method.

Neuroscience is not a social science, it is a field of biology, which is a science.

The problem with social studies is that the observations change the observables. That's why polls so often get elections wrong. People say one thing, then vote differently. People lie is surveys. (That's why more teenaged boys report having had sex than do teenaged females.)

Finally, Kevin, I am worried about you. You seem to be threatening jacob's ass with some action normally associated with cigarettes. This cannot be good.

Is your friend, by any chance, studying psychology?

Kevin said:

Jacob, I agree to an extent. Of course my profession is in what your kind like to deride by calling "soft science" and I know how you "real scientists" view "pseudo-scientists". I shifted from a research social science to a softer, sickening social science (by title) out of convenience (I still get to do what I want, I'm just called something different). That said, I haven't the stomach for many in my field of study, who cling to a "world-view" rather than to science. Blech.

Jack said:

"I thought you'd say that!

"the body of legitimate knowledge in this world doesn't extend beyond your own skin!"

"statistically, fool"

"ok, the existence of that expression proves that you are correct.

"you don't know what you're talking about. I can't believe I'm debating this nonsense with you"


That's all you have contributed, puffalump. It does not sound like you are debating at all.

Kevin is debating. You are ranting.

Kevin said:

Jack, you actually got me laughing. Thanks.

No, my friend is getting his doct. in Public Health, which is pretty broad. He did come from a psych background but is in a way more interested in epidemiology (which is actually pretty interesting). He's working (and schooling) at Hopkins on a pretty medical study with social science implications.

The observation effect is not the only problem, either. Of course people say one thing and do another, hopefully any researcher would find that curious and explore that issue more. And hopefully you're not basing your studies on surveys. Is it remarkable that you could give a person a list of questions asking them if they are depressed, when they are, and they answer yes to most of them? I think not.

The issue you raise about neuroscience, though, my friend, is one of those complexities I hope you are bright enough not to pull a "Jack" on.

"Controlled, repeatable experiments are the heart of the scientific method," and there are many examples in the social science field.

Jack said:

Name one.

Kevin said:

The Milgram Experiment.

Another one, I can't remember the name of it but the one SPMM linked to in regards to judging your own race as more preferable to another (which isn't actually what happens) after being shown pictures of individuals of other races.

These aren't done to make political statements, though they are often used politically, which is one problem related to the social sciences.

There are also many problems with experimenting on human beings that make certain experiments impossible, even though the results might be fantasticly fascinating. One has to have a code of ethics, I suppose. The Milgram Experiment is one that everyone decided went too far, though recently they half-assed reproduced it recently for some Dateline-type show. Even with the precautions they had to take to make the "experiment" ethical they got much the same results.. . .

The temptation to make a political reference is tempting but I'll resist.

Jack said:

The Milligan Experiment is a bad example. The subjects knew they were being observed, so they did not respond as they would if they were NOT being observed. At least in Astrophysics, our observations do not affect the observables.

Puffalump's test has the same problem.

Kevin said:

eh, I'll agree on that point if you agree that observed people (which was at the root of the MILGRAM Experiment to begin with) behave the same in that situation.

I looked up "Milligan Experiment" in the Google oracle and found nothing of interest. I thought it was intentional but likely not.

stay puft said:

ranting, debating... sorry, it's just that sometimes I start feeling like you're so unbelievably wrong that it just isn't worth it!

;)

the race-association thing is set up to test people's initial reactions. It doesn't matter that they know they're being tested. are eye exams faulty just because we know they're taking place?

Jack said:

"...it's just that sometimes I start feeling like you're so unbelievably wrong that it just isn't worth it!"

Perhaps you should consider thinking, instead of feeling.

The race association test IS flawed. People can fool the test if they want to.

Kevin said:

"People can fool the test if they want to." Um, if you're a scientist you control for that, bud. Gimme a break.

Your argument would may be best started as "Human behavior is impossible to study or observe scientifically. . ."

Jack said:

No, Kevin, my argument is that human behavior cannot be subject to controlled, repeatable experiments, because the subjects know they are the subjects of an experiment. The degree to which the tests are thrown off by this knowledge is not quantifyable, because to do so would require that you perform the same experiment, but without the subjects' knowledge. If we could do that, we wouldn't have the problem in the first place.

(You're not a scientist, are you?)

Kevin said:

"(You're not a scientist, are you?)" I believe I've said as much, if I haven't I will now. I'm not a scientist.

I do understand what you are saying, though, and I can still disagree with you (1). You cannot, in this day and age, conduct experiments without informed consent, I agree. The degree to which tests are thrown off by this knowledge can be minimized, in my estimation, to a level of insignificance, statistically speaking. I'm sure you'll disagree.

stay puft said:

hey Jack you're starting to look silly.

Game Theory-
They did this experiment over and over in all sorts of different cultures and countries, and this was the basis: They'd get two people, and they'd give one of them ten dollars (or equivalent) and that person could decide how to split the money up between himself and the other "player."

(so he couldsay, "I'll keep $5 and give him $5" or "I'll keep $7 and give him $3," whatever, it was his call)

but the other guy had the choice of accepting or rejecting the offer. If he accepted, they'd get the cash. If he rejected, neither would get anything.

Now in theory, it would always be in the interest of the second guy to accept the offer, because even if the guy is keeping $9 to himself and only offering you $1, you're still better off accepting the $1 than in not getting anything.

but it didn't happen like that. In most of the groups, the offer of 9-1 was typically rejected by the second guy. So would be 8-2, though not as often as 9-1, and so on. Statistically, the offers were rejected less as they approached an even 5-5.

So the idea was that there appeared to be a sort of altruism built into societies, that there is a social mechanism that encouraged a sort of fairness over strictly rational decisions. Or maybe a "macro-rational" that complemented the "micro-rational"

Jack, if you can get the grant money, I will volunteer to travel the world repeating this experiment for you, and we'll see if it will produce similar results!

Jack said:

And therein, puffalump, lies the problem. That's not altruism, it's greed on the part of the first player, and envy on the part of the second player. (Greed and envy are the reasons communism and socialism will never work.) "If I can't have x%, then neither of us will get anything."

Even when data are clear, libs come to the wrong conclusions.

stay puft said:

oh, have you read this study? or is your comment there based on my overview?

are is your claim that the researchers were liberals in error based on fact, or just an assumption?

it's really ashame that you went into engineering. You seem to have an innate knowledge about what drives human behavior (greed, envy, deceit).

...but answer this:
would that arrive at similar results upon repetition?

Jack said:

Sorry, puffalump, I had gone out of town, and your response had gone off the bottom of the page.

Since you did not provide any sources, how was I supposed to read the study?

I was not assuming the researchers are liberals, I was assuming YOU are.

"it's really ashame that you went into engineering. You seem to have an innate knowledge about what drives human behavior (greed, envy, deceit)."

Thank you for the compliment, but that knowledge is not innate. It comes from much reading. I suggest you start with Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Lao Tsu, Chuang Tsu, and, of course, the Bible.

"would that arrive at similar results upon repetition?"

To what does "that" refer?

stay puft said:

weird

"that" refers to the money game experiment about which you have clearly already formulated a number of assumptions

Jack said:

Thanks for the clarification. Now, where are your references?

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