Member Rara Avis
Not quite, Mike, although my point certainly does entail percentages. And statistics.
If you take 1,000 people and determine what percentage of them are left-handed, you're going to come up with a number. Let's call that Group A. If you then take 1,000 very different people, Group B, and again determine how many of them are left-handed, you're going to come up with another number. Those numbers might not be exactly the same, but they should be darn close. That's because in any random sample of the population, the probability of an individual being left-handed isn't going to change. Increase your sample rate from 1,000 people to 10 million and the difference between Group A and Group B will quickly approach zero. That's the power and the near infallibility of statistics.
Group A and Group B are converging because they are both part of a larger group, the group comprising every human being in this country. Let's call it Group America. In any random group that is a subset of Group America, assuming sufficient size, the number of left-handed people is going to remain essentially unchanged.
The math is going to work the same for any human trait. You can measure left-handed people, blonde people, color-blind people, gender, homosexuality -- or race.
Let's say you wanted to measure a particular body type. After studying Group America, you determined that 32 percent of that population was a natural endomorph. If you examined a subset of Group America, let's say Group Teachers, you should find that 32 percent of that subset population was also natural endomorphs. Right?
What if the subset you examined was Group Fashion Models? What if you discovered a very different number of endomorphs, say something in the neighborhood of 2 percent?
Any large deviation from the parent group would tell you that something was skewing the results. In this instance, it would probably be safe to hypothesize that someone somewhere apparently believed that endomorphs didn't make very good fashion models?
Let's now examine Group America and determine how many members of the group are black? Let's call that percentage X.
If we look at any subset of sufficient size, be it doctors, CEOs of top companies, millionaires or homeless, we should discover a number very similar to X. Any time we see a large discrepancy we know something is skewing the results.
Do you believe that endomorphs make lousy fashion models? Some people, I'm sure, would disagree with you.
Do you believe that black people make bad CEOs? Some would disagree and many, I think, would call you a racist.
Huan Yi has suggested that nurture, or in other words Culture, plays a role. John is probably right, but that's really just a different way of saying the same thing I've been saying. Culture is just a reflection of the past and present. It's a weight that can either exhaust us or help motivate us.
There are only three reasons why X, the number of blacks in Group America, should be skewed when examining Group CEOs.
1. Black people really do make poor CEOs of top companies. If you believe this you can stop reading right now. Nothing else I say is ever going to matter.
2. Black people are currently discriminated against when pursuing high level positions. This is the point I think some of you are arguing against. Personally, I think you're wrong. But I also think you're right insofar as current discrimination is less a problem today than at any other time in history.
3. Black people have faced discrimination in the past and the past is still affecting their present. You can't put a fifty pound weight on a man's back and expect him to win many races. Just as importantly, you can't remove the fifty pounds ten minutes before the race and pretend the race is suddenly a fair one. Not if the man is exhausted from carrying the weight around all day.
Affirmative Action, in all its various guises, is designed to help counter Point Three.
To some of you, it may not seem fair to everyone else when we give some runners a half-lap head start in a foot race. What you're not seeing, however, is the fifty pound weight that runner was carrying just ten metaphorical minutes ago. The head start is an attempt, albeit feeble, to make the competition fair again.
How do we know he needs a head start? How do we know when he stops being so tired and needs less of a head start? How do we know when the past is no longer affecting the present and he can stand on the starting line like everyone else?
All we need to do is look at the statistics.
When X is the same percent in Group Good College as it is in Group America, we won't need to give anyone a head start. When X is the same in Group CEOs as it is in Group America, we'll know that job discrimination past and present is no longer an issue in this country. When X is the same in Group Millionaire as it is in Group America, we can finally ignore the weight we forced others to bear for so very long. The race will finally be fair again.
Affirmative Action isn't about atoning for the past or otherwise making up for something someone else did a long time ago. It's not about guilt. Affirmative Action, done correctly, is about making the race fair again.