Affirmative Action (Was: Anthroplogists, I need advice!)

omar shafey (
10 Sep 1996 17:55:30 GMT

In article <513tth$>, wrote:

> In article <>, Stephen Barnard writes:
> > wrote:
> >>
> >> In article <01bb9e17$95021a40$>, Karen writes:
> >> Also, what are the job opportunities for Anthropology? The
> >> >history job market is quite bleak!
> >> >
> >>
> >> In Anthropology your prospects are grim, especially with a name like
> Dan
> >> Levine. It's a risky thing to go into it. Do so only if you love
> >> anthropology and can't imagine doing anything else. I doubt the job
> market
> >> has been better in anthropology than in history.
> >>
> >> Jay Bernstein, Ph.D.
> >
> >Color me naive. What's wrong with the name "Dan Levine"? (I know you
> >don't think there's anything "wrong" with it, but what puts Dan Levine
> >at a disadvantage in anthropology?)
> >
> > Steve Barnard
> >
> It means you're a white male. Ever heard of Affirmative action? It means
> white males not preferred. You are much better off if you are a black or
> other quote unquote "minority" woman when it comes to getting a job.
> Jay Bernstein

I hear the discordant harping of the Alan Bakke reactionary backlash
against affirmative action. Affirmative action is a well-intentioned move
to offer opportunity to historically denied groups and to promote
representative cultural/ethnic diversity in anthropology, education, and
elsewhere where it has been sorely lacking, resulting in insensitive and
biased delivery of services (ideas) to an increasingly diverse public.
Anthropology of anthropologists: Just look at the racial/ethnic diversity
of tenured faculty at most universities and compare it to the pool of
entry-level applicants or the student body's composition and you should
get the idea. Even if no men were hired to replace retiring/deceased
faculty, it would take decades to reach equal representation for women in
academia. The situation for minority groups is even worse.

It's said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and
affirmative action fits the bill for alot of people, especially those who
are feeling the pinch of "reverse discrimination," a pinch which the
unrepresented have always felt against the monolithic old boy network. The
resulting split in the liberal coalition which fought for the Civil Rights
Act and other long overdue social reforms is now coming home to roost,
much to the glee of society's bigots and their allies. The reactionary
backlash is now in the process of stripping out all the hard fought social
gains of past decades.

Personally, I applaud the intention of affirmative action policies even
though, as an Arab-American, I feel doubly-discriminated against; first by
anti-Arab bigots and second by affirmative action policies which lump
Arabs, "people of the Mediterranean and North Africa" as members of the
over-represented Caucasian group! (Another example of the fallacy of
racial categorization). And I resent seeing the work of highly-qualified
colleagues who happen to be Asian-American or Latino devalued by bitter
members of the dominant community who claim that standards were lowered,
as in, "He/she only got in, succeeded, reached the top, etc. because of
affirmative action."

The whole process will seem unjust to some people no matter how it is addressed.

In the immortal words of the late great Robert Nesta Marley, "Until the
color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his
eyes, I've got to say war!"