March 10, 2011

"Symmetrical view" of race is wrong

Here's a response to the whites-only scholarship noted in Whites Feel Like a Minority:

'Whites-only' isn't diversity

A Texas scholarship that excludes nonwhites betrays ignorance of the point of minority aid: an attempt to counter centuries of white privilege.We accept the organization's assurances that it is not motivated by racism. But we still find the idea of whites-only scholarships offensive (even if they are legal), and the organization's underlying understanding of race is even more so.

That understanding is sometimes called the "symmetrical view" of race. It holds that whites and minorities are similarly situated and that programs that exclusively benefit whites are as legitimate as those that serve minorities. Sometimes, as with the Texas scholarship, there is an additional argument that changing demographics have reduced the advantage of being white in this society.

This symmetrical view ignores history. Scholarships and other arrangements that favor racial minorities are generally an attempt to counter the effects of centuries of white privilege. And despite what some people might believe, those effects haven't gone away. This country has done much to overcome its history of racism, but gaping disparities in education and wealth persist. Scholarships and other programs seeking to close those gaps naturally will focus on blacks and Latinos.
Comment:  Any claim that America offers a level playing field to whites and minorities is ignorant and arguably racist. We see several examples of prejudice against Indians every week, for instance, and they make up only 1% of the US population. The totality of prejudice is obviously much greater.

If you disagree, prove that whites and minorities are 100% equal at all levels of society. Good luck with your'll need it. (And not, pointing to Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey doesn't make the case.)

For more on white privilege, see Pro-Tribal Legislation Spurs Conservative Threats, The Last Acceptable Racism, and Wicasset Loves "Redskins," "Yellow" Japanese.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You would have to be nuts to say that they're the same.

Of course, Jonah Goldberg goes one farther and says it's a business's right to not hire people based on a book where he also compares liberals to Nazis. So I generally don't listen to what the neocons say.

Of course, I would not oppose a scholarship for low-income kids.