Re: on jobs and hiring practices

Jonathan Smith (jasmith@U.WASHINGTON.EDU)
Tue, 7 Jun 1994 02:49:08 -0700

woman, daughter of a well off lawyer and judge who had the benefits of a
costly private education, good contacts, and so on -- and I also knew
numerous European Americans, (male and female) who grew up in dire
poverty, with far more limited educational opportunities. While this
situation is unusual (most African Americans do not have better
opportunities people of European decent) it does suggest that the best
possible affirmative action policy would take life experience into
consideration and not just lump people into the generic categories
'white' and 'black' assuming that every person in each category had
similar experience and opportunities.

If such a program were well implemented it would redress ethnic
and class based inequity as a side effect -- since it is true that in a
statistical sense, non white-males do have a harder time.

I am not sure that such a program or policy is possible. Do we
have to put up with a few injustices done by general category-based
affirmative action programs, or can a more sensitive approach be made
practical? How would we deal with unconscious bias on the part of the

Is it inevitable that some well educated people wait tables? Why
is underemployment so common in society where education is constantly
promoted as a door to future success. Why must meaningful work that uses
the best of each person's capabilities be a scarce resource that we have
to fight over?

I ask these questions as a non-anthropologist. I hope that
anthropologists would have ideas, or at least some leads on answers..