Sunday, July 19, 2015

Is it Racist? I Do Not Know

A recent study shows that, when you hold constant for nearly everything imaginable, minority students, on average, receive lower law school grades than white students. This has some commentators , who find the study "carefully done" and compelling, wringing their hands about what can be done.

I have no doubt about the outcome of the study but the actual color of the students -- since there is blind grading -- cannot be the cause.  Unless I missed something in high school biology, there is no correlation between pigmentation alone and anything else. There is a causal factor, to be sure but, before coming up with solutions, how about putting social class into the equation or anything that can actually explain the outcome. 

 There is something going on and studies like this do make while people feel righteous but they are useless at identifying  specific remedies. Plus, as with all  averages, unless one is ready to say every minority student, even those who made high grades, suffered the same level of disadvantage, generalized findings do not lead anywhere.

 Increasingly I think white liberals want to classify deep social issues as exclusively matters of race. This means they can continue to ignore matters of class -- of which there is a great variety within races --  more generally. The reason for this is easy. Class differences, more than race differences, are responsible for their successes and we would not want the legitimacy of their success questioned, now would we?

In fact, something makes me uncomfortable about the use of race as a variable in a study about grades or scores that are blind graded. Some of that discomfort comes from the possibility of stereotyping -- minority students do worse can too easily become all minority students do worse. Or, worse yet: Since you are a minority student, you will do worse.


Anonymous said...

I don't think that is the real reason class was excised from the Anglo-West lexicon. It was excised during the Cold War. Taft-Hartley gutted leftists from labor; corporate citizens on university boards denied tenure to leftists, the media and journalism was bought-off my conservative think tanks.
To keep their work, the social liberals substituted Caucasian for capitalist around the time of the national liberation struggles (anti-European) movements in the colonies.

Jeffrey Harrison said...

You may be right but I was thinking about the current resistance among academics to recognize class.

Athena Stafyla said...

Hi Jeff,

I think that minority students with different color have lower grades because
of racistic discriminatory treatment of centuries and because of social class inequality. Both discriminatory factors are perhaps closely related each other.

A colored student can not stay for example in the library of the University of Florida some hours for studing per day because he/she is working and the library closes so early that a working class student can not use it. That' s why the student is underpriviledged due to his need of finding a work and combinating it with studing in a university.

At the same time every colored student is psychologically resigned and strongly disbelieves that he/she could be competitive later in the labour market through a higher grade in his diploma because he/she knows that the chances of finding a good job as a minority student are fewer than the chances of white students with average graduation diplomas. Discriminatory practices at every societal level and life situation play a role on this disheartening of minority students. They do not read and fight for a better degree because they think this can not really change their lives.

You can read and watch more on my google+ page on my reports of the conference "Cultures of Inequality" organised by the Bavarian American Academy this month. My google+ page and my youtube channel has the name "friends of Amerika Haus Munich".
Everything in both pages comes from my hand, the video clips and the short presentations.

Best regards

Athena Stafyla