Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another Painful Story of Reverse Discrimination

I try to suppress thinking about the amount of racism against whites and Asians in this country because it so saddens me both for the victims and for society. But every so often, it hits me in the face. I just received this email from a mom who is very sad for her son.

Whatever vestiges of racism toward Blacks remain, whatever the value of compensating today's Blacks for past injustices, are much outweighed by the now half century of unfairness to white and Asian victims of reverse discrimination, and more important, to the larger society, which must suffer the effects of too many of our best and brightest being denied spots in top colleges and in employment merely because they lack sufficient melanin.

The photo above was taken at MIT's 2010 commencement ceremony.

Here is that mom's letter:

Dear Dr. Nemko,

I am really upset at the bias aginst white males. I have a son who is a senior in high school. He is very gifted in math and science, his SAT score was 2150 (perfect score on the math section and 2 subject tests), he has 4.0 gpa, currently enrolled in AP chemistry, econ and calculus; he's written 2 Apple apps, one of which has been very successful (; he's an Eagle Scout; he's on the school robotics team, and he works 15+ hours a week building and programming the robots; he's on math bowl, won "star student" at his school, etc. Sorry to brag but here's why I'm telling you this: He applied at MIT and was not accepted. I understand, there are a lot of very smart students applying, and we know several smart boys that applied as well, none of them were accepted.

But there is a black girl who is, officially, on the robotics team but only shows up at the competitions, and has never laid a hand on a robot. She was accepted at MIT with a full ride! I don't know her SAT scores but I do know that she's not taking the same caliber of classes that my son is, and I seriously doubt that her statistics in general are even close to his. I realize that I don't know all her details so I may be totally off here but I doubt it. The injustice of it truly infuriates me!! My son is going to Georgia Tech. I am chafing at the unfairness of it all. Thanks for reading my blathering!

Terri Buchanan


Captain Spaulding said...

With college admissions there are a vast number of 4.0 white males who are indistinguishable in every other way and a much smaller number of black students who are qualified to go to a place like MIT. They come from different backgrounds and have different stories. To say the black girl took the white boy's place is ridiculous. Colleges have the right and good reason to seek diversity in their classes.

Marty Nemko said...

To call all 4.0 white males as "indistinguishable" from each other is as racist and sexist as saying all 3.0 black females are indistinguishable from each other. Is their blackness of such great an advantage to justify admitting Black students with far worse high school records? That not only occurs; it is the NORM, nationwide.

Anonymous said...

You must admire the society we live in where hard work is replaced by using the system to one's advantage. Kudos to the girl for making the system work to her advantage ;-).

Marty Nemko said...

Indeed there are many who dishonestly game the system to play the race card, perhaps partly because they are so outraged by the unfairness of it: I know someone as white as snow who claimed she was Native American to get into Yale Law School. She did. Indeed, despite it being the most selective school in the country, they flew her in to woo her into coming! And yes, they gave her a big scholarship to boot.

Marlo said...

The young man's case is exceptional, it's certainly not the norm. If so many low performing blacks were being admitted to top colleges there would be a much higher percentage of blacks students at those schools. Also, the black unemployment rate wouldn't be two times greater than that of whites.

Quick question: In previous posts, Marty, you said that you believe genes are the most important factor in determining one's destiny(and presumably, the destiny of races)...correct? This reasoning implies that ultimately it won't matter whether a few whites and asians, or even if all whites and asians, are rejected by top schools and turned down for jobs; Because, in the end,the group with the better genes will come out on top.

If this isn't what you believe, please correct me. In any case, I was under the impression that AA has the biggest impact at the lower tier of the top tier colleges. For example, schools like Virginia and Berkley are/were known to give minorities big advantages in admissions. Don't know about MIT but at the Ivy League colleges AA babies are insignifact. For each low performing black, you can find a low performing white kid who only got in because his dad or uncle donated a fortune to the school, or is someone in a position of power.

An unusual extracurricular activity can also pretty much guaruantee you a spot at Harvard or Yale. I assume MIT is the same way. If an admission officer has to choose between a black student with perfect AP scores and a 4.0 gpa and a mediocre white or asian student who has written articles for the NY Times, it goes without saying who would get in. The woman who wrote this letter knows nothing about the black girl except for the fact that she participated in a school activity with her son and allegedly, that she didn't take a rigorous courseload. What else does she know.

Marty Nemko said...

Marlo, no I've never said that I thought genes "determine one's destiny" nor "the destiny of races." I've said, many times, that both genes and environment are important.

With regard to your "wondering, if there was so much reverse discrim, why are there not more Blacks in top-tier schools: it's because the gap between the average
Black high school record that of Asians/Whites is truly enormous, especially when in addition to GPA you examine rigor of the curriculum they completed, SAT scores, and the extent to which their extracurricular accomplishments indicate the likelihood of major societal contribution.

And regarding the letter from that mom, as you can see if you reread it, she wrote that she knew that in addition to the girl only minimally participating in the robotics team that she took far less rigorous courses and had at least a sense that her test scores were low. The larger point is that at selective colleges, the odds of a white or Asian student getting in with the grades and test scores of the average admitted Black are tiny. That's the most solid evidence of how severe the reverse discrimination is in college admissions. And sadly, the reverse discrimination extends to the workplace, to society's great detriment.

ST said...

I'd bet this young man will be just fine. With his smarts, ingenuity and work ethic, he should go far in his career no matter where he goes to school. Maybe an education at MIT would be good for him, maybe not. His high school "resume" is eons beyond what I accomplished at that age and I'm doing just fine (math/computers).

It's hard to say for sure about the AA girl. I've worked with many AA's and some were practically geniuses and did very well in the work place (and given their minority birth rite, they were pushed that much higher, that much faster). However, many I've worked with would be considered "lazy" by the average person I work with. Not sure if it's a cultural thing, because it may not be pure laziness, but the approach of doing things. But, lazy is the way it comes off to most.

I also see lots of reverse descrim. against whites from asians.

Once in the work place you get a lot of cases where people "show up" for projects and get the awards for being on them, so it's sort of a fact of working life. Hopefully, one's accomplishments will win out in the end.

I'd really like to start seeing some statistics on all this, though (if anyone dared to publish them). A lot of it is anictodal and even in my case, so I'm wondering if it's really a statistically significant problem. Not saying it isn't, just wondering how we can get a hold of some raw data.

Zeta said...

Here's some hard data on racial discrimination in college admissions. It's a blog summary but links to the source:

Executive summary: on the whole, when it comes to college admissions, Asians are discriminated against the most, followed by whites. Hispanics and blacks essentially gain a boost by the virtue of their race. And although Asians are discriminated against the most on the whole, it is poor whites who face the worst discrimination of all, particularly if they have participated in, for lack of a better word, "hickish" activities like 4H. Or, in other words:

"The box students checked off on the racial question on their application was thus shown to have an extraordinary effect on a student's chances of gaining admission to the highly competitive private schools in the NSCE database. To have the same chances of gaining admission as a black student with an SAT score of 1100, an Hispanic student otherwise equally matched in background characteristics would have to have a 1230, a white student a 1410, and an Asian student a 1550."

Contrary to the claim of a commenter above, the Ivies do engage in this discrimination. We also have data on admissions into competitive law schools, and for some years no aspiring black admittants make it even beyond the bottom rung (bottom quartile, I believe) of applicants in terms of test scores, yet blacks are still admitted. It's for reasons like this, in addition to other circumstantial evidence (like a refusal to disclose school records), that it's quite likely that Barack Obama is our first affirmative action president. This isn't to say he's a dumb man, but the probability is better than even that he is exactly that: America's first affirmative action president. It is certainly something on which reasonable and informed people can and should pontificate.

Anonymous said...

I have a similar story. I'm an Asian American. My son scored 2350 on his SAT's. Had stellar extracurriculars but couldn't get any of the Ivies to even take a look at his application. He then scored in the 99.99th percentile on MCAT (4.0 GPA and #1 rank at college for all four years) and while he had interviews with several Ivies, he was so disgusted because Asians with such a strong profile are routinely rejected while a black or Hispanic that scores in the lowest quartile & C averages get acceptances. Needless to say, I'll never go to a Hispanic or African American doctor for my healthcare needs.

IMO, this does nothing but reward failure and punish hard work.

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