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Americans Divided Over Black History Month February 21, 2007

Posted by C.A.R.D in Abraham Lincoln, African Americans, African-American, African-American history, American History, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Black, Black History, Black History Month, Black History Month Poll, Blacks, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, Frederick Douglass, Harvard, Jon Stewart, Morgan Freeman, Negro History Week, Racism, Racist, The Daily Show.
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It’s February, and the annual debate has begun. The subject of Black History Month becomes the centerpiece of many a water-cooler conversation.

A poll of almost 10,000 Americans conducted in January shows there is no consensus on the topic of Black History Month. The survey, conducted by MSN and Zogby International, found that 43 percent of Americans believe setting one month of the year to focus on a racially defined observance is a token gesture, while 39 percent say that is an opportunity to raise awareness of African-American history and accomplishments (18 percent are not sure).

Also see: MSN-Zogby Black History Month poll results

Is it a valuable and necessary way for African-American history—an essential part of American history—to be offered to the public?

Or is it, as one scholar wrote in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, “simply a guilt-driven public relations scam to pacify blacks who otherwise receive no attention on the bread and butter issues of education, jobs, and health care?”

African-Americans have varying opinions on the issue, too. The poll found that 28 percent feel that dedicating only February to black history is a token gesture. Celebrities Morgan Freeman and Bill Cosby have spoken out against it. “I don’t want a black history month,” Freeman said on 60 Minutes. “Black history is American history.” Comedians Chris Rock and Dick Gregory have made jokes about it. Recently, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart did a riff on the debate over Black History Month.

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The Racism of “Diversity” November 15, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in Asian, Black, Blacks, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, Diversity, Harvard, Hispanic, Jewish, Jews, Quota, Racism, Racist, White, Whites.
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It’s time to admit that “diversity” is code for racism. If it makes you feel better, we can call it “nice” racism or “well-intentioned” racism or “racism that’s good for you.” Except that’s the rub: It’s racism that may be good for you if “you” are a diversity guru, a rich white liberal, a college administrator or one of sundry other types. But the question of whether diversity is good for “them” is a different question altogether, and much more difficult to answer.

If by “them” you mean minorities such as Jews, Chinese Americans, Indian Americans and other people of Asian descent, then the ongoing national obsession with diversity probably isn’t good. Indeed, that’s why Jian Li, a freshman at Yale, filed a civil-rights complaint against Princeton University for rejecting him. Li had nigh-upon perfect test scores and grades, yet Princeton turned him down. He’ll probably get nowhere with his complaint — he did get into Yale after all — but it shines a light on an uncomfortable reality.

“Theoretically, affirmative action is supposed to take spots away from white applicants and redistribute them to underrepresented minorities,” Li told the Daily Princetonian. “What’s happening is one segment of the minority population is losing places to another segment of minorities, namely Asians to underrepresented minorities.”

Li points to a study conducted by two Princeton academics last year which concluded that if you got rid of racial preferences in higher education, the number of whites admitted to schools would remain fairly constant. However, without racial preferences, Asians would take roughly 80 percent of the positions now allotted to Hispanic and black students.

In other words, there is a quota — though none dare call it that — keeping Asians out of elite schools in numbers disproportionate to their merit. This is the same sort of quota once used to keep Jews out of the Ivy League — not because of their lack of qualifications, but because having too many Jews would change the “feel” of, say, Harvard or Yale. Today, it’s the same thing, only we’ve given that feeling a name: diversity.

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Sexism at MIT August 12, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in Alla Karpova, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, E-Mail, glass ceiling, Harvard, Hockfield, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, scientist, Sexism, Sexism at MIT, Sexist, Susumu Tonegawa, Virginia Valian.
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WHEN SUSAN Hockfield was named president at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the university’s first female leader said she hoped her presence would “give confidence to girls and young women that there are opportunities that will be open to them that they can’t imagine right now.”

Hockfield has her first major chance now to display some imagination over such opportunities on her campus. An MIT professor, Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa, was accused in Globe stories of bullying a scientist into turning down a job offer from the school. Tonegawa sent the scientist, Alla Karpova, a discouraging e-mail less than an hour after the MIT Biology Department offered her a post at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Despite his Nobel Prize , the 66-year-old Tonegawa, director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, may have seen Karpova as a threat to his preeminence in neuroscience, even though she is less than half his age.

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