Of course, if Liberia would just replace bribes with affirmative action its universities could be every bit as good as ours

From California, “A Devastating Failure”

The Los Angeles Times recently published a devastating case study in the malign effects of academic racial preferences. The University of California, Berkeley, followed the diversocrat playbook to the letter in admitting Kashawn Campbell, a South Central Los Angeles high-school senior, in 2012: It disregarded his level of academic preparation, parked him in the black dorm — the “African American Theme Program” — and provided him with a black-studies course.

The results were thoroughly predictable. After his first semester, reports the Times:

[Kashawn] had barely passed an introductory science course. In College Writing 1A, his essays — pockmarked with misplaced words and odd phrases — were so weak that he would have to take the class again.

His writing often didn’t make sense. He struggled to comprehend the readings for [College Writing] and think critically about the text.

“It took awhile for him to understand there was a problem,” [his instructor] said. “He could not believe that he needed more skills. He would revise his papers and each time he would turn his work back in having complicated it. The paper would be full of words he thought were academic, writing the way he thought a college student should write, using big words he didn’t have command of.”

His grade-point average was 1.7, putting him at risk of expulsion if he didn’t raise it by the end of the year. The one bright spot in his academic record? Why, African American Studies 5A, of course! Kashawn had received an A on an essay and a B on a midterm, the best grades of his freshman year:

He tries to rally his spirits with heart-wrenching pathos: “‘I can do this! I can do this!’ he had written [in a diary]. ‘Let the studying begin! . . . It’s time for Kashawn’s Comeback!’”

A counselor in the campus psychologist’s office urged him to scale back his academic ambitions. “Maybe he didn’t have to be the straight-A kid he’d been in high school anymore,” the counselor advised him. This “be content with mediocrity” message is hardly a recipe for future success, but it sums up the attitude that many a struggling affirmative-action “beneficiary” has adopted to get through college.

The black-themed dorm and student center also operated exactly as one would expect, confirming their members’ belief in their own racial oppression:

“Sometimes we feel like we’re not wanted on campus,” Kashawn said, surrounded at a dinner table by several of his dorm mates, all of them nodding in agreement. “It’s usually subtle things, glances or not being invited to study groups. Little, constant aggressions.”

Of course, the only reason that Kashawn and many of his fellow dorm mates are at Berkeley is because the administration “wants” them so much, regardless of their chances of success. It is unlikely, however, that African American Studies 5A discussed the academic-achievement gap in Berkeley’s admissions between black, white, and Asian students. That gap, not racism, explains why Kashawn is not a sought-after addition to study groups. (Kashawn came to Berkeley through one of the University of California’s many desperate efforts to evade California’s ban on governmental racial preferences: an admissions guarantee for students in the top decile of their high school classes, regardless of their test scores or the caliber of their school.)

Kashawn is on tenterhooks waiting to learn if his second-semester grades will allow him to continue into sophomore year. Which course gave him an A–, to pull his GPA over the top? Hint: It wasn’t College Writing.

The LA Times article reports on the demoralizing effects this failure has on poor Kashawn; it doesn’t mention the effect affirmative-action has on blacks who don’t need or benefit from it, namely, the devaluing of their own success. When a black job applicant newly armed with a college diploma meets a potential employer, will he be met with the suspicion that he’s less qualified than an applicant of any other race? That’s a rhetorical question.

19 Comments

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19 responses to “Of course, if Liberia would just replace bribes with affirmative action its universities could be every bit as good as ours

  1. CatoRenasci

    I was a participant in the discussions at the University of California in the late ’60s and early ’70s about the then new affirmative action programs – unfortunately on the losing side. We argued that only those who actually met UC standards should be admitted, and that potential affirmative action admittees – and young Kasawn would have clearly fallen into that category if his SAT scores were grossly inconsistent with his grades – should do any remedial work at one of the better junior colleges. We were concerned about avoiding the acceleration of grade inflation (which crept in as professors didn’t want to “cause” students to be drafted in they didn’t maintain a 2.0) and, even more, avoiding the creation of exactly the sort of stigma on minority graduates you mention in your last paragraph. Before affirmative action, if one saw a black graduate of a serious college or university, one assumed he or she was at least as competent as the upper 1/3 of white graduates given the barriers and racism they likely faced. This has not been true for almost two generations.

    That said, this young lad’s story is sad – he’s clearly earnest and wants to do well. He works hard and is enthusiastic about being a college student. Yet, despite how well he appears to have done in high school — a 4.06? what did they teach? anything? — the limited evidence in the story suggests he probably lacks the cognitive ability to function at the level expected at Cal. Which is a far cry from the early ’60s when students in freshman lecture classes who were told that 1/3 would likely not make it past their freshman year (or in the 1920s when they were told 2/3 would likely not make it past their freshman year).

    The young man would have been much better off – and UC’s limited resources much better used – if he could have done remedial work at a community college, so that he had already demonstrated that he could do the work (or figured out that he just couldn’t….)

    Mismatch is very real.

    • Anonymous

      Well said, Cato. I do not consider myself racist in the slightest and in fact was extremely moved by MLK’s “Dream” speech and his hopes for a better life for all of us through fairer treatment of blacks. Now, after 50 years of sincere attempts by society to help ameliorate the racial bias problem and provide opportunities for minorities to balance the scales of justice, we see large numbers of the underclass still demanding preferential treatment. I for one have HAD IT with this constant complaining – fifty years is enough (in my opinion) time in which to better oneself and if one is still crying “victim” one will never be motivated to achieve much. Rant ended. Greenwich Old Timer

      • anon22

        You need to read Juan Williams op-ed piece; he feels deeply and strongly that blacks need to find and accept personal responsibility as their new mantra, and he moans at the staggering statistic that 72% of black children are born out of wedlock. Thankfully not every black person in the media today feel blacks need to play the victim card. It’s just that the ones smart enough to speak out are muffled by the bigoted rantings of Oprah, Sharpton, Jackson, and Obama.

        • NPR played several minutes of MLK’s “I have a dream” speech this morning, and I was struck by his saying that he dreamed of a day when his four daughters would be judged not by the color of their skin but by their character. How sad that it is precisely the lack of character that now holds down so many young blacks: illegitimate children, drugs, guns, truancy; all manifestations of bad character, all devastating to those children’s chances of success.

        • CatoRenasci

          Chris, King’s dreaming of a day when his daughters would be judged by their character reminds me of my black law school classmate who said in the late 1970s: I needed affirmative action to get in here, but my goal is that my daughter will get in on “the numbers”.
          (referring to the combination of grades and LSAT scores needed for admission by white/Asian students)

  2. Al Dente

    Kashawn at 1.7 is doing better that I did. Here’s my report card:

  3. burningmadolf

    I want to read the AA Studies paper that got an A.

  4. Anonymous

    Affirmative Action is just another variety of black privilege.

  5. Publius

    This story is a microcosm of our box checking society. Affirmative action has morphed into affirmative suspicion of the outcomes. We are equal under the law, but not in everything else. We will continue to experience more of this because of white liberal guilt and the incredibly large blind spot that the black community has towards personal responsibility and real personal achievement as opposed to legislated success.

  6. AJ

    The LA Times article said Kashawn graduated high school with a 4.06 grade point average; isn’t the top GPA 4.0? What’s the extra .06 for? How do graduate top of the class without basic writing skills?

    • These days, I’m told, you can exceed what used to be a perfect gap of 4.0 by taking advance placement courses, although I’m not sure what classes poor Kashawn took that caused his teachers to categorize them as “AP”.

    • CatoRenasci

      Grade Inflation – it’s not just for college.

      Per the story, the faculty saw this kid as a good kid trying hard and decided to make sure he succeeded (apparently whether he learned anything or not).

  7. towny

    Hopefully, in a hundred or so years from now, Americans will look back on this experiment and view it as a success

  8. t

    Soul Train became the longest running syndicated show in TV history – lasting from 1971 to 2006. Its 35 year record-holding reign will only be broken if Entertainment Tonight lasts until 2016 or Wheel of Fortune lasts until 2018.