© 2024 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Perspective: It's not a problem if we don't talk about it, right?

Tim Mossholder

I’m always surprised when I hear people say that the only problem with race in America is that so many people keep talking about it. That’s right folks. Race is only a problem because we talk about it.

Last month, the Supreme Court deemed race-conscious admissions policies in higher education unconstitutional. Implemented in 1961, affirmative action was meant to purposefully take action to ensure better inclusion of historically marginalized racial groups and women due to past discrimination. For example, federal policies like unemployment insurance and social security were not extended to farm and domestic workers, primary fields of labor for non-White Americans through much of the 20th century. Due to pernicious housing discrimination practices, between 1933 and 1968 upwards 95% of federal home loans went to White families, even though many non-White families were eligible for those loans. And, it was not uncommon to be able to count on two hands the number of minority students at elite and state flagship universities in the same period. As scholar Ira Katznelson points out, there has been an affirmative action system for White Americans for far more than 62 years. But if we don’t talk about any of this it won’t be a problem.

In a strange but logical twist, legacy admissions are soon to be challenged, a practice that has overwhelmingly benefitted White Americans for centuries. Is it fair to allow a White applicant into an elite university simply because a parent attended or made a sizable contribution, taking a spot from a minority who may have better grades and test scores? Yes, that happens too! See the story of George W. Bush.

So, I guess race is a problem if you talk about it, depending on who you are.

I am Joseph Flynn and that is my perspective.

Joseph Flynn is the executive director for equity and inclusion in the Division of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and an associate professor of curriculum and instruction.