For some advocates, the philosophy underlying systemic racism is not subject to refutation by logic or evidence. Its tautological, Orwellian nature is beautifully crystallized in a statement by psychology professor Angela Bell: “If you have to ask if you are a racist, you are … And if you are not asking if you are a racist, you are.” This makes sense when one considers the Frankfurt School origins of a good deal of thought in the sphere of systemic racism. For example, the editors of Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement, wrote: “[S]cholarship about race in America can never be written from a distance of detachment or with an attitude of objectivity. … Scholarship … is inevitably political.”
Like any public policy, affirmative action involves trade-offs, but supporters are ignoring that reality because good intentions are what matter most to them. Nevertheless, after 50 years of racial preferences in higher education, we have plenty of empirical evidence that these policies have done more harm than good to the intended beneficiaries, even if the media shows little interest in reporting it.
Racial preferences in higher education were implemented in earnest beginning around 1970. The objective was to help the black poor enter the middle class, even though a significant black middle class already existed in the 1960s and was growing rapidly. Between 1940 and 1960, for example, the black poverty rate fell by 40 percentage points, and during the 1960s median black household income doubled. Nevertheless, affirmative action continues to receive credit for black progress that predates it. And it continues to be promoted by people who put politics and ideology above principle.
What happened in higher education after racial preferences were introduced is what social scientists refer to as “mismatching.” Black students were admitted to schools with academic credentials far below those of the average student in attendance. Subsequently, these black students struggled academically, dropped out at higher rates, or were more likely to switch to an easier major than they originally intended to study. These same students, in all likelihood, would have prospered at a less selective college where the same subjects are taught at a pace that matched their readiness. Instead, they were set up to fail at institutions that wanted them there to make the campus more racially diverse. Today, we have dozens of academic studies, including by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, that show the mismatching of students and schools is detrimental to learning.
The new historical action film, The Woman King, starring Viola Davis and John Boyega, should have been so much better than it is. It should have been a chance to explore a little-known part of modern history. It should have been a chance to look at the interaction between pre-existing African slavery and the Atlantic slave trade.
But The Woman King does nothing of the sort. Instead, it ignores African history altogether, and caters to the white, progressive demand for one-dimensional black caricatures of victimhood. Indeed, it’s worth noting that while the cast and characters are almost all black, The Woman King’s writer and producer are both white women. And it is their worldview and prejudices that shape what we see on screen.
Ostensibly liberal democracies deployed propaganda techniques to panic and manipulate the public during the pandemic. I wonder at the behavioral economics and psychology professions, which contributed to or approved of this deeply unethical endeavor.