Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

‘Something Is Going On in Society When We Freak Out about Giving Someone from a Poor Background a Leg-Up, But We Are Silent about All the Advantages We Give—At the Exact Same Moment!—to Privileged Demographics’

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My point with all of this is to highlight the power of definition. When admissions offices take race into consideration it is defined as “affirmative-action” and therefore a betrayal of American ideals of meritocracy; when they take where your parents went to school into consideration it is simply a legacy admission, protecting the unique “traditions” of each school. Schools take lots of things into consideration: but somehow the act of taking race into consideration gets picked out, put into a separate category of decision making, and subjected to a separate critique and logic than do those processes which benefit white people. One of the privileges of whiteness, then, is its invisibility, as society naturalizes and normalizes the very processes that give white people advantage, sewing white privilege into the unexamined fabric of social reproduction, while subjecting to the most strict and withering examination any systems that try to remedy existing inequality by benefiting black or Hispanic students.

So with this in mind, let’s take a look at race and graduate school. In 2009, 4.9% of all doctorates went to black graduates and 3.7% went to Hispanic students. For both groups that is about 1/3 of what their general population suggests should be the case. Although women come closer to parity, they still only comprise 47% of phds, despite comprising a higher percentage of undergraduates. Clearly we are not in a nation where Affirmative Action has run amuck.

At Ph.D. Octopus: Universities are still Super-White and if our Leaders have their Way will only get Whiter. Peter also offers up this “late-night rant”: Please… no more “Don’t Go to Grad School” Articles. Via (who else?) @zunguzungu.

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