G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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I’m going to work backwards on a piece promoted by Jezebel written by a woman who offers a supposed take-down of UT affirmative action plaintiff Abigail Fisher. The piece is just asking to be raked over the coals. Evette Dionne writes at Clutch Magazine:
This leads to one conclusion: Affirmative action is not the issue. Now, before you attempt to bash me as another black woman benefiting from federal mandates, let me clarify: I scored a 1680 on the SAT and I was accepted into every undergraduate institution that I applied to. I graduated from Bennett College Summa Cum Laude and valedictorian with a 4.0 grade point average and I’m on a full ride merit-based fellowship for graduate school.
Let the record show that Bennett College is dog shit. The average GPA is 2.62. The average SAT-Math score is 387; the average SAT-Reading score is 389. By the way, average tuition is over $30k. These are horrific numbers; the average traditional SAT score at this school (to compare to Fisher as opposed to Dionne’s score which includes the writing section of the SAT) is 776. More than half of that score was earned just by showing up. So Dionne here didn’t attend the HBCU version of Harvard. I’ll admit that I’m using this as background to undermine anything this woman argues on the grounds that she believes that she’s “something” for having an objectively low SAT score and graduating from a school that even Phoenix Online University laughs at Joe Biden style.
Here’s how Dionne began her missive:
Dear Abigail Fisher,
Here is an apt forewarning: I am using this platform as a vehicle to communicate disbelief and subliminal rage. So, this open letter will not be imbued with false pleasantries intended to appease or uplift. Don’t expect an epistle steeped with ersatz compliments; it is not being written from a positive space of peace, light or love.
I am penning this missive because the vitriol coursing through my veins is inescapable. Rather than continuing to engage in unproductive Twitter rants, I am redirecting that caustic energy and utilizing this space instead.
Good, so at least we know that Dionne won’t be relying on facts or logic to make a nuanced argument about a highly contentious and long-running debate upon which the world’s most intelligent legal scholars remain divided. Dionne reminds us:
If affirmative action is gutted and substituted with “neutral-based admissions,” institutions will have the option to deny students access to the educational American Dream based on their ethnic background. Abigail, if the Supreme Court issues a verdict in your favor, you will be responsible for pushing this nation backward, into an era when blacks were met with venom at the steps of Ole Miss.
Chill the fuck out drama queen. This woman does her case no favors by comparing Ole Miss ’62 which held to a policy of not allowing blacks of any merit into the school compared the anti-affirmative action proposal that anyone of any race be allowed into a school as long as they deserve it. Ole Miss 1962 was not race blind, and neither is the current posture of UT 2012 though the lack of blindness in the former era has taken on the opposite texture in the modern era.
Dionne then goes critical race theory on us:
I’ve seen this time and time again. It is owed to the prevalence of white privilege, which leads to unwarranted entitlement. You do know what white privilege is, right?
It is a singular component of critical race theory that implies that whites view their social, economic, and cultural experiences as normative and universal rather than exclusive. White privilege was first addressed in W.E.B. DuBois’ 1935 classic, Black Reconstruction. You should indulge in it sometime.
Though she probably doesn’t know it, Dionne is presenting an argument made by many others who believe that Fisher does not have standing in this case because she could not possibly have suffered harm given the fact that she wouldn’t have been admitted to the university given her academic and extracurricular resume.
Vikram Amar laid it out best. In the case Associated General Contractors v. Jacksonville, Amar notes:
[A petitioner] can allege a valid injury based merely on the prospect of not being treated fairly by a process in which race is illegally considered.
Amar points out that another case, Lesage, complicates matters. If Fisher only seeks to redress what she considers a past wrong of her not being admitted, this may preclude her standing. This is all a very nuanced legal question which is why it is not cut and dry. Dionne spouts off as if she even gives thought to the fact that perhaps Fisher does have standing under a previous legal interpretation.
It should be mentioned that one plaintiff who was originally attached to the case has withdrawn over the past year. Rachel Michalewicz fell just outside of the 10% Rule, and scored a 1290 on her SAT, higher than the average for UT students. She also participated in marching band. Fisher scored an 1180. So let’s go over some numbers.
In Table 13 of the plaintiff’s reply to the case, it is shown that over 21% of black first-year students, 4.2% of Hispanic first-year students, 0.3% of white students, and 0% of Asian students believed that their race was the reason they were accepted to UT.
Looking at table 6, the score distribution from 2002-2003 (UT has not produced score data by race), white students who were not in the top 10% of their class had a 1236 average on the SAT. Black students had an average of 1079. Fisher would have fallen in the 70th percentile of non-10% students in the black cohort; Michalewicz would have been in the 90th percentile. (Asians scored an average of 1242; Hispanics scored 1155).
So if Dionne is correct that Fisher did not merit a spot at UT, she’d have to also accept that most of the black and Hispanic students who are admitted to the school (who fall outside of the 10% program) do not deserve it either.