Last week, an article in The Daily Northwestern titled “Affirmative Action Dangerously Shortsighted,” by a student named Sydney Zink, showed up on my Facebook newsfeed. In it, she paradoxically denied the necessity of the fundamental nature behind Affirmative Action in university admissions while at the same time championing the voice of the Civil Rights Movement. Let me be clear: Affirmative Action isn’t implemented in a perfect way. However, I believe the goal of Affirmative Action, as it was intended, is to help the disadvantaged and to provide opportunities in the form of a degree to which minority students would otherwise not have access.
Zink is quick to victimize rich, white, upper class America, which she refers to as “RWP.” Zink desperately needs to either take a sociology class or go for a five minute walk in her neighboring South Side of Chicago. RWP are in no way victims of institutionalized racism. It is not RWP’s ancestors who have suffered from institutionalized racism from the conception of slavery to the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s. It was, however, the American government that failed our black citizens. The same government whose consistency in preaching liberty and freedom is met by its consistency in failing its most needy citizens.
Zink infers that racism is a problem of the past. Basic statistics prove otherwise. On average, black offenders’ prison sentences are 10 percent longer than those received by white offenders of the same crime. Seventy-two percent of black children live in single-parent homes. One in three black men will go to prison in their lifetime. Black men are three times more likely to be searched at a traffic stop and four times more likely to be stopped and frisked. Black women are three times more likely to be arrested than white women. These statistics are a miniscule insight into the inherent disadvantages our society has placed on African-Americans. It would have helped Zink to use statistics to show race doesn’t determine opportunity, because the last time I checked, “disapproving sneers” aren’t a statistical category.
I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect the average racial makeup of college students to mimic the racial makeup of America as a whole. In 2010, whites made up 77.5 percent of bachelor’s degrees conferred in the U.S. compared to only 9 percent for blacks. Doctorates given in 2010 are split 77.9 percent to 6.6 percent for whites and blacks, respectively. In 2010, African-Americans made up 12.3 percent of the population, a low estimate considering how difficult it is to collect censuses in poor neighborhoods. African-Americans are still underrepresented in the realm of higher education. Hopefully these statistics illuminate the fact that it’s not racist to acknowledge we don’t live in a gray world, but rather that it’s ignorant not to.
Zink and those of her persuasion are out of touch with reality. It’s not your merit that defines you. Your merit is a product of those who came before you and opened doors that you yourself could never have opened alone. Zink doesn’t believe RWP should be penalized for minorities’ whose ancestors never had the same access to opportunity as RWP. It is a privilege and duty to help fellow citizens who, as a result of chance, have been born with less. It is not a misfortune.
Breitbart is a member of the class of 2013.