Saturday, March 17, 2007

Most Blacks in Ivies Not From U.S.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Princeton found that the majority of self-identified Blacks at Ivy League institutions were born outside of the U.S. The report highlighted the gap between Black Americans and immigrant Blacks from other nations, highlighting that 40.6% of the Blacks studying at Ivy League institutions are immgrants.

The study reported that although first and second generation black immigrants make up 13.6% of the total Black population, they make up 23% of the black student population studying at public universities and 40.6% of Black students studying at Ivy League institutions. Articles have appeared in the campus publications for such universities as Harvard's Daily Princetonian and Harvard's
Daily Crimson outlining possible explinations, ranging from Universities selectively preferring Black immigrants to cultural defenciencies in the Black American community.

The center of the debate rests upon weather affirmative action plans implemented by these institutions are fulfilling their purpose of redressing past wrongs. Yet, the question could be posed: what is the purpose of affirmative actions? To redress past wrongs, therby 'favoring' Black Americans? Or to help create a diverse enviornment?

My take on it goes like this...I think a lot of what's being said in this debate is off target. It seems to center around so-called "rights" if immigrant students to study at America's top ranked universities. This sort of logic beckons back to arguments posed against affirmative action in the first place by white males who claimed to have been denied access because women and people of color were taking all their spots. Frankly, it's ridiculous. Any student studying at a University deserves to be there by virtue of having been admitted. There's no cultural deficiency on either part -- that also, in my opinion, is another conquer and divide tactic used to create divisions among Blacks from all nationalities living in the US. There needs to be more discussion and mobilization against the institutional structures that prevent many Black Americans ('American' being another category that needs to be interrogated) from pursuing higher education. Last year UCLA's total Black freshman class was about 100 students, lower than it was in 1967. Even in states whre affirmative action is still used in the admissions process, it's dangerous to think that affirmative action policies at the higher education level alone will help remedy or redress any historical wrongdoings. If this country's focus were ever to be radical enough to work in the interest of the majority of working class people of color, less of an emphasis would be placed on the incarceration of youths of color and more efforts would be generated toward providing the educational, social, emotional and political structues that would lead to systemic, instead of symbolic, change.

No comments: