Talking about Diversity john a. powell Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College of Law Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Moritz College of Law Orientation August 13, 2009
“ Had the Court been willing in 1896, in Plessy v. Ferguson, to hold that the Equal Protection Clause forbids differences in treatment based on race, we would not be faced with this dilemma in 1978. “
“ We must remember, however, that the principle that the "Constitution is colorblind" appeared only in the opinion of the lone dissenter. 163 U.S. at 559. The majority of the Court rejected the principle of color blindness, and for the next 60 years, from Plessy to Brown v. Board of Education, ours was a Nation where, by law, an individual could be given "special" treatment based on the color of his skin.”
“ It is because of a legacy of unequal treatment that we now must permit the institutions of this society to give consideration to race in making decisions about who will hold the positions of influence, affluence, and prestige in America. “
Telling someone a scary story activates a frame of fear
Claude Steele’s “stereotype threat”:
For example, tell students about to take a test that Asian students tend to do better than whites, and the whites will perform significantly worse than if they had not been primed to think of themselves as less capable than Asians.
As Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers points out:
“ People don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.”
Source: Gladwell, Malcolm. 2008. Outliers: The Story of Success
“ At selective institutions of higher education, admissions decisions have a special political impact: rationing access to societal influence and power, and training leaders for public office and public life. Those admitted as students then graduate to become citizens who shape business, education, the arts, and the law for the next generation. Admissions decisions affect the individuals who apply, the institutional environments that greet those who enroll, and the stability and legitimacy of our democracy.”
Source: Guinier, Lani. 2003. “Admissions Rituals as Political Acts: Guardians at the Gate of our Democratic Ideals.” Harvard Law Review . 113.