That the narrative of affirmative action as “reverse racism” is itself racist should be obvious to anyone who isn’t, y’know, racist, but the idea unfortunately finds a lot of purchase with incurious white people whose gut tells them that affirmative action runs counter to our society’s meritocratic ideals. The problem with that gut feeling, of course, is that our society is in no way a true meritocracy, and at no point in American history have non-white people had access to the same level of social mobility as whites based solely on merit.
But the anti-affirmative-action rhetoric you hear from the really vocal opponents is even more explicit. Their examples—invariably hypothetical and vague—of the harm affirmative action causes are, without fail, tales of white people passed up for college admissions or job positions by a “less qualified” minority. They attempt to emphasize the “less qualified” bit as the injustice, but the unspoken assumption is that any minority applicant will always be less qualified than a white one. So, y’know, racist.
[M]any of the applicants who were rejected [by selective colleges] were far more qualified than those accepted. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, it was not the black and Hispanic beneficiaries of affirmative action, but the rich white kids with cash and connections who elbowed most of the worthier applicants aside.
Researchers with access to closely guarded college admissions data have found that, on the whole, about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America’s highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their institutions’ minimum admissions standards.
White students who failed to make the grade on all counts were nearly twice as prevalent on such campuses as black and Hispanic students who received an admissions break based on their ethnicity or race.
That a disproportionate share of our white plutocrats are of at best unexceptional intelligence is not exactly a surprise, but this narrative needs to be out there and it needs to take the place of the racist, mendacious “dumb people getting into primo colleges just because they’re black” narrative.