Well, I just wrote a fairly lengthy post about affirmative action, but then I deleted it. It was a stupid post because it didn't say anything that hasn't been said before.
Affirmative action is weird. On the one hand, I support it because I think that minorities who have been historically discriminated against and who are struggling to rise out of socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds deserve a break when they are forced to compete against rich, white kids who have had the best schools and education that their upper-middle class parents could afford. (I just think you have to put in more of an effort to get to the same place when you go to a painfully underfunded school and when you come from a neighborhood which is largley full of single parent families and where large percentages of the population are regularly circulating in and out of jail).
On the other hand, I had a friend who lived with me at Trinity who totally worked his ass off to get into med school (I mean this guy studied so much that he almost gave himself a nervous breakdown a few times), and then was initially rejected from every med school that he applied to. This guy just had to really work like crazy just to barely meet the entry criteria, you know?There were a couple of other kids who went to school with us who were also in the pre med program and who were bright, capable kids, and these kids were instantly accepted to med school because they were considered minority applicants, even though their overall grades and test scores were similar to or slightly lower than the grades and scores that my suitemate had. It didn't seem fair. I didn't want to hold anything against these minority kids (at least one of whom I was very good friends with), but it seemed unfair to my suitemate that he was being passed over while other kids who hadn't necessarily worked quite as hard were being given a free pass.
Finally, I brought the whole issue up with one of these guys, Mario, and asked him how he felt about it (Mario was friends with my suitemate as well, and had already been accepted to med school despite having similar grades and test scores, but applying as a person of Hispanic heritage). Anyway, Mario thought about it awhile and said that he thought it might not be fair on an individual level, but that it was probably fair on a societal one. Mario pointed out that my suitemate's father was a doctor, and that he came from an affluent family. Mario was (I believe) the first person in his family to go to college, and that if he went back to his neighborhood to practice medicine (which he planned on doing) that he would be one of the only Hispanic doctors to be practicing in that neighborhood that he knew of. If he went to med school, maybe a few other Hispanic kids from his old high school would try it.
Well, my suitemate eventually got a late acceptance letter to med school, and I believe that he's now practicing in Houston (unless he's moved recently), so everything ended well, but the whole episode has come to symbolize the whole affirmative action debate for me. (Let it be noted that Mario was one of the first ones to buy my suitemate a beer when he got his acceptance letter, and that my suitemate and he remained close friends throughout the whole thing)
By the way, this whole thing came to mind because the Supreme Court is getting ready to hear some more affirmative action cases (although I think in the context of elementary and secondary schools). I'm actually surprised that the conservatives haven't done more to attack affirmative action during these last couple of years, but I guess there's not really a big rush given the way they've got the court stacked at this point.
Uh, man, I'm not sure this post was better than the first one, but I have a headache now, so I'm done.