I’ve been thinking a lot about racism for two reasons.
First, Mrs. T. and two of our children went down to Washington DC for spring break. At one point, they were walking around town, and an older person muttered loudly, “They train those little Orientals for war from a young age.”
It’s an interesting comment because my children are ½ Asian, but I supposed they looked “Asian enough” to draw a response. It’s interesting because our family in Indonesia suffered much during World War II, when Japan invaded. In other words, I’m from a country that was a victim in the war, not an aggressor.
So, as we all know racism today is alive and well.
Second, some articles about Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren have caught my eye (one is here). She for nine years listed herself as a Native American in trade directories used to find diversity candidates, during a time when law schools were under pressure to hire more minorities.
She was hired at Harvard Law School. There, she was the only member of the faculty not from a selective law school.
Warren might be 1/32 Cherokee, but that relative isn’t registered as a Native American in the Dawes Rolls, which closed a century ago and are used to adjudicate who today can be a citizen of an American Indian tribe.
I’ve uploaded a picture of Warren.
She lives in a multi-million dollar home. After never once mentioning her heritage during her campaign (a local Boston paper revealed her directory listing), she now says she listed herself as a minority in order to meet friends to be “invited to a luncheon.”
Hard not to shake your head at that one.
So, I write all this because I’m frankly struggling. Racism is wrong, and we need to help those who are from groups that were put at a severe disadvantage.
But what system is fair:
- When should people “tick the minority box” like Warren? When you’re 1/2 Native American? 1/32? 1/64?
- When you apply to select colleges these days, it actually hurts you to be Asian-American. When colleges limit Asians, isn’t that racism?
- How do you regulate a program with good intentions so that someone like Elizabeth Warren does not take a job that can go to a Native American from a poor background?
- Is it fair to tilt college admissions just because of race? For example, my wife and I support an on-premises rehab center for young women who are homeless, have children and are addicted to drugs (more here). All of the tenants I’ve met are Caucasian. Nearly all have been abused as children, and they’re from very difficult circumstances. If and when their children apply to colleges, should admissions officers favor them, or a friend of mine, an African-American who is from a stable two-parent household and attended one of the best prep schools?
If anyone has thoughts on this, I’m all ears.