Let us preface this with a note about what ‘racism’ is, taken from Dictionary of Sociology, by Tony Lawson & Joan Garrod:
‘Racism: Beliefs or ideas about race that are often translated into negative feelings and discriminatory or hostile actions against members of the supposed racial group. Racism can be expressed as individual racism, such as the use of negative and abusive language or even physical assault, or institutional racism, whereby members of a group may be discriminated against, such as in access to housing or employment.’
To this last point, we might add, ‘Access to education.’ I mention this point, because some people claim that racial discrimination (whether by a person or a recognized organization) is ‘not racism’ when it is against white people, or at least that ‘institutional racism’ never happens against white people. In fact, I would argue that these people try to redefine the term ‘racism,’ so that it cannot occur against white people, because they realize that otherwise they themselves would be racists – but I digress.
Now, what I want to say here is that, according to the arguments by the legal representatives of the University of Texas (hereinafter UT), UT has engaged in institutional racism against white people.
And the proof? Well, the arguments which UT’s lawyers gave in the case to the United States Supreme Court, wherein they admitted that they take non-white high school graduates over academically more qualified white students. Consider that Mother Jones, a very liberal publication, reports that ‘The University of Texas has determined that if it excluded race as a factor, that remaining 25 percent would be almost entirely white,’ (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/justice-scalia-suggests-blacks-belong-slower-colleges-fisher-university-texas). And in passing may I say that Scalia was quite racist in his remarks! ‘Blacks’ don’t belong at easier colleges! But the slower students, and those students who have not had good preparation? Well, they arguably DO belong at easier colleges.
What, specifically, did they say? Well, UT has a policy that anyone in the top 10% of students in Texas is automatically admitted to UT (independently of race or any other qualifications). However, that only fills up about 75% of their student body. So the other 25% needs to be filled up somehow. Now, UT stated, in arguments of the case, that, if they were to disregard race, they would primarily fill this 25% with white students – but that is not, in fact, what they do. They give various reasons for this, such as not wanting non-white students to feel like ‘tokens.’
Now, I’m not trying to discuss the merits or demerits of ethnic diversity in an educational institution. There are in fact studies which suggest that people might function better in diverse environments, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/opinion/diversity-makes-you-brighter.html, which may be interpreted as suggesting that diversity in the student body is beneficial for all students (although I have some comments on how to draw conclusions from that study). But the point is, I’m not trying to claim that UT is, well, engaging in illegal or unconstitutional activity. In fact, there may be reasons for wanting more diversity over an higher average quality of students admitted, as that psychological study cited may show (again, I will have more to say about what this study shows, in future).
All that I am claiming is that, according to their own admission, UT is saying that, apart from the top 10%, they take less qualified non-white students over more qualified white students. And that means that they have an higher requirement for admission for white students than non-white students, which constitutes institutional racism, according to the definition from the sociological definition of Lawson & Gerrod. At the very least, UT is saying that they want to have an higher level of racial diversity as such – which will always be disadvantageous to students who belong to any race which tends to do better. Since (again, likely for socioeconomic reasons) that is currently white people – UT is engaged in racism against white people.
Now note, the UT does not say that they take less-qualified students over more-qualified students because they come from poor schools, where highly intelligent people have lacked the opportunity to show what they can do – no, they say specifically, according to the article from Mother Jones, that if they disregarded race, that the remaining 25% would be mostly white. And that they don’t want that, so they take a more diverse selection. Which means, they take non-whites who are less-qualified over more-qualified white students.
In my opinion, a truly colour-blind society would not allow colleges to use race as a factor in admissions, regardless of any so-called advantages.
So the next time you talk about white privilege, remember the University of Texas, and the institutional bias it has against white Texan high school students.
Now, maybe you disagree with me. Maybe you believe that racism cannot happen against white people, at least, not institutional racism within the United States! Now if so, I invite you to prove to me that the University of Texas did not do, nor claim to do, what I said they did above!
After all, people with similar ideals (and you are a racial egalitarian, aren’t you?) might disagree with me about whether the UT decided to have higher standards for the admission of white people than the admission of non-whites. But, if you are truly an egalitarian, you must admit that if what I have stated is true, then it would be a case of institutional racism against white people! You may deny that the facts of the case are as I reported them, but you would have to agree, that if some university said ‘We make it easier for race A to enter, because we take anyone in the top 10%, regardless of race, but for the remainder of our student body we are biased towards race A,’ then that university is biased towards race A. And if some university said ‘We make it harder for race A, because we take the top 10%, but for the rest, we are biased to take those who do not belong to race A,’ you would say that is a bias against race A.
(And again, maybe the desire for diversity alone justifies such a bias! That issue will be discussed elsewhere!)