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Bergmann, Barbara R. IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. Basic Books: New  York, 1996  

From Subject
<Patrick Z Carlson <pzcarls@ilstu.edu> IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Carlson)
<LUISARTURO@aol.com Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Carlson)
<"Kristin Goff" <KGOFF@suntan.vid.ilstu.edu> IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<Rob Huck <rhuck@catseye.marble.net> Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<LUISARTURO@aol.com Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<LUISARTURO@aol.com Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<Rob Huck <rhuck@catseye.marble.net> Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<LUISARTURO@aol.com Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<Rob Huck <rhuck@catseye.marble.net> Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<"JosephF. Healey" <jhealey@cnu.edu> Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<"Samuel J. Perryman" <sper@loc.gov> Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<"Samuel J. Perryman" <sper@loc.gov> Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<"Samuel J. Perryman" <sper@loc.gov> Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<"Michael A. Schoenfield" <maschoen@execpc.com> Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff)
<Danielle Skrodal <dcskrod@ILSTU.EDU> Review: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Skrodal)
<"John C. Japuntich" <jcjapun@ILSTU.EDU> Review: Bergmann,(Japuntich)
<"Scott Syoen (by way of Gary Klass REVIEW: "In Defense of Affirmative Action" (Syoen)

Date: Wed, 5 Mar 1997 19:04:29 -0600 
From: Patrick Z Carlson <pzcarls@ilstu.edu> 
Subject: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Carlson) 

Bergmann's book makes a strong argument for keeping affirmative action in order to help minorities. The main questions proposed in the book, are what is affirmative action, and why is it necessary? Bergmann's oversimplified argument is that affirmative action helps those discriminated against and keeps diversification in the work place. For these reasons, it remains an essential part of the work society.

Bergmann defines affirmative action as, " . . . planning and acting to end the absence of certain kinds of people--those who belong to groups that have been subordinated or left out--from certain jobs and schools . . . affirmative action can be a formal program with a written, multipart plan and a staff to carry it out, or it can be the activities of one manager who has consulted his conscience and decided to do things differently," (Bergmann, 7-8). For Bergmann, it must be understood that affirmative action is there for more than placing people in jobs, but it helps protect the rights of minorities in applying for jobs. Affirmative action makes an effort to integrate the work place and make job searching discrimination free. The major underlying goal of affirmative action is inclusion of "out groups." How are hiring managers supposed to achieve this goal of inclusion though? A goal is a number which may be changed and is something to strive for. Bergmann makes reference to numerical goals (set numbers to be achieved) and timetables for achieving these goals. These types of goals are necessary, but also must be closely watched. Setting these goals are an excellent start to the integration process, but if the manager in charge of achieving these goals is not being closely monitored from above, then he may choose to not follow through with the intentions of them.

What types of people should be included in these goals? Bergmann answers this question with a list of three types of people: 1. The group is seriously under represented in an occupation or at a hierarchical level in the work place. 2. The under represented continues because of present discrimination, or because of current employer practices or habits that effectively exclude members of the group. 3. The pattern of exclusion is unlikely to change in the absence of special effort. (94-95).

Any minority who fits into one of these three categories is then able to take advantage of affirmative action.

Bergmann also says that goals are not absolute and can be changed or even dropped. "Goals for a group should be discarded when its members have become well integrated into the labor market . . .," (97). When a certain market starts to become more diversified, you can stop using affirmative action goals. Also, if a goal is never going to be attained you should probably either alter or drop the goal completely.

Goals are often confused with quotas. the way in which I would define a goal is a number which is desired and strived for, but may change in nature and number. A quota is an unalterable and non-negotiable number that is set from a superior and must be achieved at any cost. Quotas are important to both opponents and proponents of affirmative action. The opponents of affirmative action will say that goals are the same as quotas and you are trying to hire a person who is not as qualified for the simple fact that they are a minority. Those in favor of affirmative action are not always willing to accept that some quotas do exist in affirmative action. Bergmann is willing to admit that goals have some quota-like-aspects, but are not the same. Bergmann is however willing to defend goals if necessary, but will not always be one-in-the-same.

I believe that some quotas are necessary for the diversification process to begin, but affirmative action is more about goals. Saying that you will allow a certain amount of minorities to apply for a job, then allowing for a certain number of positions to be saved for those minorities would be a quota. A goal would be to say that we would like to have a certain number of minorities join our work team. If we find enough qualified minorities, then we will try and begin the internal process of diversification within our organization.

The main argument of the opponents of affirmative action may be summarized in two words. According to the opponents, affirmative action "perpetuates racism." By hiring a minority because of the color of their skin or their gender, opponents will make the argument that a white male is being done an injustice. Bergmann introduces the idea of hiring on a merit system. This is one way that the opponents of affirmative action propose to eliminate it. When candidates apply, they should be hired on their individual merit--what they can do as a person, not as a minority. One problem with this is that if you choose to look hard enough, you can surely find that a man will be better in some aspect and for this reason is more likely to receive the job. Opponents of affirmative action will also propose to allow the anti-discrimination laws to do their job and with these laws, affirmative action is unnecessary. The major argument against this is that anti-discrimination laws are not enforced. It is hard enough o prove discrimination with the help of affirmative action, but without it proof would be near impossible. Anti-discrimination appears to be mostly civil. You must prove that you were discriminated against and the company must prove that you were not the most qualified person for the job. In one case which Bergmann cites, DuPont was sued by an employee. The case itself took 19 years to go to trial and even after the plaintiff won, DuPont was able to continuously appeal. A major company will most likely have the resources to appeal decisions and file for motions to hold up a trial. Eventually they are able to economically were the opposition out. Backtracking to the idea of "reverse discrimination," is an interesting case which Bergmann spends a substantial amount of time on.

In Johnson v. Santa Clara County, Paul Johnson sued the county transportation department for discrimination. The reverse discrimination stems from a decision from the affirmative action officer in the department. When a job promotion opened up, nine candidates had been chosen as finalists for the job. These candidates were each tested and screened by a written test and a two person panel. The initial panel gave out the scores to the candidates. The highest score was an 80 and Johnson received the second highest of 75. Diane Joyce received a score of 73 tieing her for third. A final panel was made up of three men (all of whom had either had past run-ins with Joyce, or recommended Johnson for the job). When all was said and done, Johnson had the job and Joyce was left out. She had already once been passed over for the job and took her case to affirmative action. Affirmative action recommended that she receive that job and Johnson wait until next time. Johnson then took his case all the way to the supreme court. I would argue that Joyce's case was much stronger than Johnsons. She received only two points lower than him, worked for the department much longer than him, and there had never been a woman at this position before. It would seem to be a one in one-million chance that out of something like 238 employees that have worked for the department, there has never been a woman at this particular position.

Affirmative action is by no means a perfect system, but without a guarantee that anti-discrimination laws are going to be enforced by an agency, then affirmative action is a necessary tool in the integration process. I am by no means here to say that there will never be an alternative to affirmative action, or that affirmative action is the only option that we, but there is no other tool at the moment to help integrate the work place.     Back to top...


Date: Thu, 6 Mar 1997 07:55:42 -0600 
From: LUISARTURO@aol.com 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Carlson) 

In a message dated 97-03-05 19:48:37 EST, you write:

Good review. I do have some questions and comments.

<< Bergmann also says that goals are not absolute and can be changed or even dropped. "Goals for a group should be discarded when its members have become well integrated into the labor market . . .," (97). When a certain market starts to become more diversified, you can stop using affirmative action goals. Also, if a goal is never going to be attained you should probably either alter or drop the goal completely. >>

Does Bergmann say how to identify or measure "integrated into the labor market," or "when market starts to become diversified?" Also, when he says,"if a goal is never going to be attained...[alter or drop it]," does he make suggestions about ways to handle the potential problem that many of the goals may never be met (as a justification of significantly reducing the goals or eliminating the goals)?

<< By hiring a minority because of the color of their skin or their gender, opponents will make the argument that a white male is being done an injustice. Bergmann introduces the idea of hiring on a merit system. This is one way that the opponents of affirmative action propose to eliminate it. When candidates apply, they should be hired on their individual merit--what they can do as a person, not as a minority. One problem with this is that if you choose to look hard enough, you can surely find that a man will be better in some aspect and for this reason is more likely to receive the job.>>

I agree that a merit system can be set up to limit opportunities for groups of people. I would also, however, agree that there will be times when certain white males will suffer an injury as a result of the color of their skin (and gender). However, I think this line of argument assumes that too often affirmative action is devoid of individual merit criteria. None of the court cases challenging affirmative action, I am familiar with, involve situations where a white male lost a position to person whose capabilities were grossly below his own. For the most part the cases deal with people whose abilities are more or less similar.

<<Opponents of affirmative action will also propose to allow the anti-discrimination laws to do their job and with these laws, affirmative action is unnecessary. The major argument against this is that anti-discrimination laws are not enforced. >>

In support of affirmative action, one might also say that, from a moral/justice perspective, equity will take much longer than it should.

Finally, (constructive criticism) you forgot to tell us what the supreme court decision was and what the courts logic was. It would have added to your arguments and critique.

Dave Kershaw   Back to top...


Date: Thu, 6 Mar 1997 08:15:26 -0600 
From: "Kristin Goff" <KGOFF@suntan.vid.ilstu.edu> 
Subject: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

 "In Defense of Affirmative Action" by Barbara Bergmann (Reviewed by Kristin Goff)

"Affirmative Action...offers entitlements, rather than development to blacks. A preference is not a training program; it teaches no skills, instills no values. It only makes a color a passport...the worst aspect of racial preferences is that they encourage dependency on entitlements, rather than on our own initiative." --Shelby Steele (141-142)

This quote signifies the most stinging and potent argument against Affirmative Action. Affirmative Action was created for "lazy" people who depend expressly on government favor and this only makes them more "lazy," opponents imply.

In Normal we have seen the opposite extremes of both sides of the Affrimative Action debate in the last few years. In 1995 ISU was sued over reverse-discriminatory hiring practices of Building Service Workers because nearly all of the BSWs were minorities. A few months later at the Mitsubishi plant in Normal, a large group of women filed against the company for sexual harrassment and discriminatory treatment on the job. With these two high-profile instances so close to home, it is apparent that on-the-job treatment and hiring practices are still not adequate and educating ourselves about this debate is now more important than ever.

After reading "In Defense of Affirmative Action" Steele's notion of dependency not only seems preposterous, but ignorant. Bergmann builds a rock-solid foundation for her arguments for Affirmative Action. She considers every possible counter argument to Affirmative Action, every possible question. Bergmann easily dismantles the validity of Steele's dependency argument by noting the opportunity to work does not guarantee permanent employment -- employees have to work hard and earn the right to keep their jobs (142). Thus, Affirmative Action does promote skills and values, as well as a strong work ethic.

At the start of the book Bergmann illustrates what Affirmative Action really is. When President Clinton was initially elected he vowed to make his cabinet "look like America (1-6)." But, under political scrutiny from Affirmative Action foes, he did not exactly deny his promise, but according to crtics, he did not live up to it either. Clinton ended up appointing three women and a hand full of minorities to a predominantly white male cabinet.

But, Bergmann reveals that in the cabinet appointments candidates are sought for geographical location as well as for their job competency qualifications. Is choosing someone because they are from the south similar to choosing someone because they are of a disadvantaged race or gender? This type of geographical selection happens all the time, yet no one complains about this. Bergmann lists example after example of cases of outright discrimination that are constantly overlooked by society simply because they have been commonplace for so long, like geograpical selection.

In this singular argument Bergmann shows how politics figures into the picture of Affirmative Action. The south is a large organized group of voters, so it is politically imperative that this group be represented properly in the president's cabinet, whereas it is not as important to represent a smaller unorganized group of voters like Hispanics. Yet in the eyes of Affirmative Action opponents, this is not discrimination.

Bergmann goes on to discuss the motives behind Affirmative Action, why there is a need for the program. She lists the biggest reason for Affirmative Action is to end discrimnation in the workplace and to promote inclusion of "out groups." She proposes doing this by following hiring goals until a workplace is integrated enough to cease using the goals.

The problem with this argument is the fact that government regulation of Affirmative Action is not properly enforced as it is, and asking the government to monitor a workplace until it has fulfilled its "goal" will likely add to the confusion. How do we define adequately integrated as opposed to segregated? The government will have to develop a formula to determine this and will have a greater incentive to not enforce the goals altogether.

The second biggest reason is to promote intergration and the third reason is to reduce poverty caused by race and gender. Bergmann then presents contrary views of how to accomplish these goals.

Although some of Bergmann's views seem workable, others seem thinly conceived. For example, Bergmann suggests creating a program for disadvantaged people of all races and sexes. This could possibly backfire into allowing poor white males to take jobs over other minorities, thus leaving minorities completely out in the cold.

This book provided some interesting topics to consider and think about. Bergmann did a good job of considering both sides of the argument. But, Bergmann's own arguments were at times ill-formed and difficult to understand.

Kristin Goff    Back to top...


Date: Thu, 6 Mar 1997 20:11:24 -0600 
From: Rob Huck <rhuck@catseye.marble.net> 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

One cannot compare race, gender or ethnicity to geography. A person can change his or her residence. Dr. Klass is originally from Buffalo, NY but now lives in Illinois. Is he a New Yorker or an Illinoisan? He lives in Illinois and is therefore an Illinoisan. Dr. Klass changed his residence, but cannot change his race. He *could* change his gender, but I don't think his wife would be real happy about that. ;)

I don't think Bergman's analogy stands up. People move from one region of the country to another every day. Race is permanent. Geography isn't.

Rob

============================================================================== Robert Huck rhuck@catseye.marble.net

"If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation, and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday." Isaiah 58:9-10

==============================================================================       Back to top...


Date: Fri, 7 Mar 1997 07:37:56 -0600 
From: LUISARTURO@aol.com 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

In a message dated 97-03-06 20:53:46 EST, you write:

<< One cannot compare race, gender or ethnicity to geography. A person can change his or her residence. Dr. Klass is originally from Buffalo, NY but now lives in Illinois. Is he a New Yorker or an Illinoisan? He lives in Illinois and is therefore an Illinoisan. Dr. Klass changed his residence, but cannot change his race. He *could* change his gender, but I don't think his wife would be real happy about that. ;)

I don't think Bergman's analogy stands up. People move from one region of the country to another every day. Race is permanent. Geography isn't. >>

What exactly is his race? What makes up a race? His skin color is (especially during the winter months) white. However, does that automatically imply anything? I would think absolutely not. The term race is misleading. It has through history (as Appiah would argue) implied a genetic set of characteristics. However, there has never been, nor will there ever be (if you want to argue this, prove me wrong) a unique race (there is no white race) as identified by specific, universal characteristics. Even if you want to argue that there is such thing as one distinguishable social construct of whiteness (which I would love to challenge), you cannot argue that it is permanent. If you look at those values people tend to assume to be white, they all came from, or arose from, a specific social norm associated with (undoubtedly at the beginning) a geographic location. That construct you consider race was essentially defined by historical/geographical circumstances. To say that changing geography is possible but changing race is not, is incorrect, because what race (as it is perceived today) is, is really a assumed set of social norms. However, for anyone who has ever moved around, we know that social norms are not similar from city to city, state to state (therefore there really still is no such thing as a white race). Those who move from one area to another do not completely retain those values they have just left. These values change. Even if you come from the perspective of ethnicity (without bring up the point of multiple ethnicities), one cannot strongly argue that the ethnic cultures remain forever unchanged. My basic point is there is no "white race," nor is there anything similar to a universal set of white social norms. Also, even if one were to conceed a universal set of white social norms, one cannot legitimately suggest that those norms cannot be changed.

Dr. Klass can admittedly change his gender, however, I'd also advise against it. Bearded laidies don't get equal opportunities.

Dave Kershaw Back to top...


Date: Sun, 9 Mar 1997 07:36:15 -0600 
From: LUISARTURO@aol.com 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

In a message dated 97-03-06 20:53:46 EST, you write: Original Post: << One cannot compare race, gender or ethnicity to geography. A person can change his or her residence. Dr. Klass is originally from Buffalo, NY but now lives in Illinois. Is he a New Yorker or an Illinoisan? He lives in Illinois and is therefore an Illinoisan. Dr. Klass changed his residence, but cannot change his race. He *could* change his gender, but I don't think his wife would be real happy about that. ;)

I don't think Bergman's analogy stands up. People move from one region of the country to another every day. Race is permanent. Geography isn't.<<

>>In a message dated 97-03-08 08:14:15 EST, you write:

<< I think you've gotten on the wrong track. Race or ethnic background is determined solely by one's parents and ancestors. None of us can change who our ancestors were. I used the word race as the law uses it. Remember, we're talking about Affirmative Action programs which rely on legal definitions. The law generally defines a white person as one whose ancestors originated in Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East. It may not be the most accurate definition, but it is used in law and that's all I was talking about.<<

I was merely trying to bring up issues about the automatic use of the term race and some of the implications. The point being maybe we should reevaluate these definitions. From your original post it was not clear you were merely taking the approach of legal definitions; although your assumptions were clear.

Yes, we are talking about affirmative action, legal definitions do come into play, however the discussion surrounding affirmative action isn't wholly framed in legal definitions. Besides, laws and legal definitions are a function of the social environment and social definition. I do not think my response was off base.  

>>I wasn't talking about social norms. Don't go off into tangents that I did not mention. I was simply talking about the origins of one's ancestors. My ancestors came from Germany and England, therefore, the *law* considers me to be "white". I don't care about social norms or customs or so-called "universal characteristics". My only concern was with the rights granted to people under the law.<<

My assertions about race being based a historical social construct was in no way tangental. You said you can't change a race (being genetic in origins). I said there is no such thing as a genetic race. I said that what we consider race is merely a social construct based in perceived social norms, and by the nature of social norms, they can be changed.

>> around, we know that social norms are not similar from city to city, state >> to state (therefore there really still is no such thing as a white race).

>The law says there is. That's all that concerned me in my original posting.  

Just because the law says there is doesn't mean we should debate or talk about these issues. At one point the law said slaves only counted as a 3/5 person. I'm glad some decided to talk about those issues. That's all I wanted to do.

<<You bring up a good point here, however. Affirmative Action will come under even more criticism in the future when people of different races marry more often. Is a person whose father is black and whose mother is white entitled to AA benefits?>>

Yes. However, I want go back to your ancestors in Germany and England. It is doubtful that they just popped up in those places. Our view of races and ethnicity is so narrow sighted. What about those ancestors forefathers? If you take an evolutionary approach, we are all africans. Why shouldn't that part of our history be acknowledged? Even from a biblical perspective we are all related (for those out there who don't believe in evolutionism). My only goal was and is to ask some fundamental questions about *race* and assumed characteristic, and to (if I had known you only wanted to focus on legal definitions) advocate a serious reevaluation of the legal classifications and lack there of (multiracial).

>>Don't talk about social norms. I don't care about them. Affirmative Action is a concept of law. The law says there is such a thing as a white race, therefore, AA uses that legal definition to quantify rights and privileges.<<

This is a discussion list, frankly, I will talk about what I choose to talk about whether you care about them or not. As social norms, the law, the historical foundations of the term "race," and alternatives to legal definitions of race all fall within the bounds of race, ethnicity, and inequality, they are appropriate for the list. Finally, whether the law says there is such thing as a white race or not, does not mean that we should accept that there is any such thing as a "race." Out of necessity, to ensure equality, justice, or fairness (terms for debate another day) the government feels it must draw a line somewhere, and does so. The line is not real or accurate. This necessity grows out of people over believing in such things as "race". I only attacked a general assertion about race.

Also, back to your original assertion you can't change someones race; if you can change the legal definition of race you change a persons "race".

Dave   Back to top...


Date: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 05:57:54 -0600 
From: Rob Huck <rhuck@catseye.marble.net> 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

Ancestry isn't genetics? Since when? You say you can change a person's race. How? My parents are from Missourah. Show me. How does a white person become black? How can a black become Asian?

Rob

============================================================================== Robert Huck rhuck@catseye.marble.net

"If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation, and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday." Isaiah 58:9-10

==============================================================================     Back to top...


Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 07:07:42 -0600 
From: LUISARTURO@aol.com 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

In a message dated 97-03-11 Rob Huck wrote

<< > > Ancestry isn't genetics? Since when? You say you can change a person's > > race. How? My parents are from Missourah. Show me. How does a white > > person become black? How can a black become Asian? > > > > Rob >>

I think our miscommunications are due to different concepts of race. I hate to make assumptions about your definition of race, does it just have to do with skin color and maybe some cosmetic physical traits? Then I would agree that you can't fundamentally change that (although you can change it through tanning, etc.).

However I come at a definition of race in a historical context, when race meant genes (as identified by skincolor, etc.) dictated a persons innate cognative, cultural, and physical abilities. This kind of race, I argued does not exsist and the term should not be used-or believed.

I then made the leap (probably at my own peril-knowing that email discussions aren't the best medium to discuss deeper issues) to a perspective that what these people (when these classifications were made) were really looking at (when especially defining their own "race") the norms of their societies and making wrong assumptions that they are innate, biological facts. Therefore, if you look at our catagories of race solely as being made up of an assumed set of universal norms, if a person adheres to a different set of norms he is no longer in this catagory, in this way his race (or racial preference) changes.

However, like I said, I hate the term race and the linking of people and certain norms to certain groups based on skin color and physical traits, it is problematic. This is where we got confused. By continuing to use the term race and not social norms, it made it more difficult to explain because of the linkage of race to skin color. I removed it but that was not completely clear. I was working through some new (for me-not the bit about no races, but how "races" can change) arguments that occured to me while reading COLOR CONSCIOUS and didn't explain myself fully, sorry.

I wouldn't tie ancestry to race. Ones physical traits can't completely change nor can the linkage to people who begat them. But, race implies fundamental differences among humans, to which no have ever, and likely never will, be proven.  

<< I also think that it's rather a "racist" construction for white people to cause non-white people (even here in the States) to refer to themselves as minorities. >>

Good point, the term minority has its negative implications. I've wondered what to do in that regard (I sometimes think of using historically disadvantaged) but haven't settled on an alternative. What would you suggest?

on 97-03-11 Samuel J. Perryman wrote:

<<After all, non-white people collectively constitute the majority of Americans, wouldn't you both agree?>>

Frankly, I don't know what the numbers are, but I would guess you're right. However, what would the justification be for including some in one group and leaving the others out. I have enough trouble with anyone being grouped as a majority. This to me over implies group cohesiveness or group essence, again centered around universal assumptions of color. I realize the current need for these catagories (explained in my forthcoming review), however, they seem not be questioned as a factual reality.

<< If they constitute the majority, then why is it that the minority (people who classified/classify themselves as majority) dominate all non-white people in all areas of human activity, including econ, educ, entertain, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and war? >>

The historical impact of discrimination perpetuated (if not magnified) by ineffective collective action and persistant, current discrimination. (to over simplify)

Dave Back to top...


Date: Sat, 8 Mar 1997 07:27:33 -0600 
From: Rob Huck <rhuck@catseye.marble.net> 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

I think you've gotten on the wrong track. Race or ethnic background is determined solely by one's parents and ancestors. None of us can change who our ancestors were. I used the word race as the law uses it. Remember, we're talking about Affirmative Action programs which rely on legal definitions. The law generally defines a white person as one whose ancestors originated in Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East. It may not be the most accurate definition, but it is used in law and that's all I was talking about.   I wasn't talking about social norms. Don't go off into tangents that I did not mention. I was simply talking about the origins of one's ancestors. My ancestors came from Germany and England, therefore, the *law* considers me to be "white". I don't care about social norms or customs or so-called "universal characteristics". My only concern was with the rights granted to people under the law.

The law says there is. That's all that concerned me in my original posting.   You bring up a good point here, however. Affirmative Action will come under even more criticism in the future when people of different races marry more often. Is a person whose father is black and whose mother is white entitled to AA benefits?  

Don't talk about social norms. I don't care about them. Affirmative Action is a concept of law. The law says there is such a thing as a white race, therefore, AA uses that legal definition to quantify rights and privileges.

Since when does Dr. Klass have a beard?

Rob  

============================================================================== Robert Huck rhuck@catseye.marble.net

"If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation, and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday." Isaiah 58:9-10

==============================================================================     Back to top...


Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 08:42:26 -0600 
From: "JosephF. Healey" <jhealey@cnu.edu> 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

   

Its probably a minor point in the great scheme of things and certainly depends on definitions and social constructions but, according to the Census Bureau, "non-Hispanic WHites" are still the numerical majority w about 70% of the population. Even with high immigration and birth rates for "minorites" Non-hispanic Whites are still projected to be a slight numerical majority by the middle of the next century.

What WOULD be a good alternative to "minority group"?     Back to top...


Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 09:46:56 -0600 
From: "Samuel J. Perryman" <sper@loc.gov> 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

On Wed, 12 Mar 1997 LUISARTURO@aol.com wrote:

Thanks for being insightful enough earlier to not make assumptions about what another person means when he/she uses a term. Example: if someone were to want to discuss issues regarding "racism" with me, my first impulse would not necessarily be to start gabbing about how awful racism is, but it would be to assert, "how do you define racism?". I define "in part" the ability to practice racism is proportionate to the ability of a a group to dominate (subjugate) others in any of the nine areas of human activity, including econ, educ, enter, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and war. I further believe that that subjugation is wholistic, because I believe in the connectedness of all things. This means, to me, that it's highly unlikely that a person can dominate me economically, and not dominate me politically and otherwise at the same time.

I believe that that universal standard which the racists themselves established is sheerly white over non-white. If I understand what you're saying with regard to a person adhering (in essence, "melting" or "becoming westernized" )... he is no longer in (this) category. In order for me to understand clearly what you may be saying, we must first answer some important questions, or at least some questions which I consider important: what are the categories and who created them, what is the universal set of norms and why is there a universal set of norms --in essence, what's the long term objective?, why must a person adhere to the norms (which you even suggested are different than his own)?, and what are the consequences that a (different) person must suffer if he doesn't conform to a (different?) (what... set of norms)?

What I also find interesting about this exchange is that it really does validate just about everything I've said (re: powerless people cannot be races, even though they can practice racist behavioral patterns--and they often do).  

Why use either description? I think that both descriptions are inadequate, really, and therefore, since they're both in adequate and one continues to use them, then why not just continue to use either (or both) of them?

How doe race imply anything about a person? I ask because I may be unclear what you mean. Race (black) implies fundamental difference (???) among humans (one would have to compare black people to some other people and use someone's established "social norms" as the guide post in order to make this assumption.)

I wasn't really suggesting that we drop the use of minority to discribe non-white people because it has a negative implication. I asserted that the word is atrocious because it's untrue. I have a simply remedy that could at least give us a jump start: I would suggest that one speaks, acts, thinks, and emotionally respond only in ways that's going to most effectively bring about truth. Otherwise, one should not merely participate in untruth, because as long as untruth (the "untruth" about how one even thinks about himself) exist, truth/just can never exist, because justice and injustice cannot exist simultaneously. The other thing that everyone can do is to speak, act, think, and emotionally respond in a manner which will most effectively replace injustice with justice. This means that if I continously refer to myself as a minority (clearly a term which I did not name myself), then I should at least find out where that term came from and why I am using it. If my ultimate revelations are unjust (imbalanced/untrue), then I should refrain from using it.    

I will just assert that a minority controls a majority (like in South Africa) through violence or the threat of violence, and deception.

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Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 10:39:27 -0600 
From: "Samuel J. Perryman" <sper@loc.gov> 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

I am not sure I know exactly what you mean by "non-Hispanic Whites". I am totally honest with you, regardless of how many times I see "non-white Hispanic" on an application. Remember, I also see "other" on it as well. I also am not/was not sure what the statistics are/were along this line. I raised the question, "who is the majority in America" because I not only wanted to posit that domination often has little to do with numerical stats. Example: majority rules. If people who classify themselves as white were not the local majority, then it would especially clarify my point that the minority has always ruled over the majority. If that is the case, and I were to accept someone else's definition of me as "minority", then why is it that I (as a collective "other") am not in control of my own destiny? For, I can never control my own ultimate destiny as long as I am dominated (controlled) by anyone other than myself, whether it's intellectual (and it often is) or physical.

Note: By my use of the term European-American, I do believe that all of us got here some way or the other; I am sure that I was brought from Africa (and am therefore of african descent), and I *assume* the same scenario for others. That's as far as it goes.

What WOULD be a good alternative to "minority group"?

Forgive me, but your capitalization of "would" is a bit offensive. We are not talking about alternatives. I believe that liberation begins in the mind and eventually works its way outwardly. As I stated earlier, there are somethings that some collectives can do to affect change, but everyone can do something individually. Sometimes that most difficult on an individual level because (as your "WOULD" implies), many people feel hopeless. One of the things that I am trying to demonstrate even as we speak is that I no longer accept terms which people use to label me, nor do I engage in conversations until I am sure that we both are talking about the same thing. One thing that I am not suggesting for anyone, however, is that anyone internalize their minoritization and project it. I mean, no one's talking about supremacy of any people over any people. One thing I've sought to become is a "counter-racist" as opposed to my formerly being "anti-racist". That's a very good place to start, because I believe that racism is at the very kernel of the cob.   Back to top...


Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 11:38:12 -0600 
From: "Samuel J. Perryman" <sper@loc.gov> 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

On Wed, 12 Mar 1997, Samuel J. Perryman wrote:

Sorry, Joseph.

I started gabbing and totally failed to offer any alternatives (as you put it) which I think may be of help to people whom we refer to as minorities (as someone put it).

I will tell you what my alternatives are, and *please* note that I don't believe any of these alternatives are popular or that they're going to make me rich, but I'd rather die poor and liberated than poor and captive or not so bad off and captive.

1) I first had to re-think all I knew (and was taught) about racism. I also had to consider who taught me all I know about all I purported to know. According to mathematics, chances are if one believes that the world is flat, and he teaches, then he's going to teach from his particular world view.

2) I realized that racism exist all over the planet at all times. Because I did not create the "social norm", genetic survival strategy of racism, bur realize that it exists, I sought to understand the most exact behavioral science know to mankind. I am still studying, because I equivocate injustice with racism, and one does not change until the other change.

3.) I had to decide that I value justice over material possession (whether or not it's private property!) After making that decision, I did began my life's work. It continues today. I also do not need a master's degree in order to qualify to be a counter-racist. I only need to value justice over unjustice.

4.) Because I am of african descent, I also became pan-african. Note: Pan-African is similar to Pan-Europeanism, which causes us to have this discussion in the first place. Also, to be pro-african means just that for me. I simply want to be a tree with roots, and just as it is correct for a person of european descent to be pan-european, it's correct of me to be pan-african, and they can complement each other.

5.) I seek to be rooted deeper in african-centered philosophy, which causes me to see the world differently than my neighbor. Otherwise, I am a subject to my neighbor.

6). I use my money only in a manner which most effectively will help neutralize oppression of any/all peoples at all times. This causes me to have to think about where I am spending my money.

7). I do not know what a melting pot is. People are not ingredients, and they do have their own identities. Those identities should not be compromised, nor should they have to relinguish them in order to be "patriotic" something that I am very much.

8) Remain mindful that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Act like it's true if I believe it.

9) Use my human resources not in the promotion of universalism, which would invariably take us back to someone's earlier reference to a universal set of someone's norms; Also, realize that Affirmative Action (or any action) is just that: an action. It is inadequate, in my opinion, because the people are constantly being victimized by a system (racism/western hegemony) which is untouched. Of course people need jobs, and if Affirmative Action would help open a door which has traditionally been closed to people who fall outside of a "norm", then more power to Affirmative Action. I would have to support it wholeheartedly in that context.

10) Always be respectful of one's self. Self-respect is the only respect that one not only needs, but can ask for. If I respect myself, then I cannot disrespect myself by disrespecting my neighbor.

Hope those help to some extent.     Back to top...


Date: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 07:22:37 -0600 
From: "Michael A. Schoenfield" <maschoen@execpc.com> 
Subject: Re: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Goff) 

Samuel J. Perryman wrote: > > On Mon, 10 Mar 1997, Michael A. Schoenfield wrote: > > > Rob Huck wrote: > > > > > > > > > > > My assertions about race being based a historical social construct was in no > > > > way tangental. You said you can't change a race (being genetic in origins). I > > > > said there is no such thing as a genetic race. I said that what we consider > > > > race is merely a social construct based in perceived social norms, and by the > > > > nature of social norms, they can be changed. > > > > > > Ancestry isn't genetics? Since when? You say you can change a person's > > > race. How? My parents are from Missourah. Show me. How does a white > > > person become black? How can a black become Asian? > > > > > > Rob > > > > > > ============================================================================== > > > Robert Huck ======================================================================= > > Robert, > > > > Of course you cannot change race, but you can get an idea of what it is > > like to be a minority by traveling and living in those communitites > > where you are the minority. For instance, I resided in Spanish Harlem in > > New York (1967) and learned first hand what it is like! Sensitivity is a > > prime goal for understanding. > > > > Mike S. > > If I moved into a white community (being that I'm a non-white > person), then would that give me an idea of what it is like being white? > Do you mean that, by living in Spanish Harlem, you were able to witness > first hand some of the things that you may have heard about before that? > > I agree with both of you that "race" is a social construction > devised by "racists". I also think that it's rather a "racist" > construction for white people to cause non-white people (even here in the > States) to refer to themselves as minorities. After all, non-white people > collectively constitute the majority of Americans, wouldn't you both > agree? If they constitute the majority, then why is it that the minority > (people who classified/classify themselves as majority) dominate all > non-white people in all areas of human activity, including econ, educ, > entertain, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and war? ================================================= OK, so inadvertanly stepped on some toes. Actually I am a jewish American Indian (Mescalaro Apache) and don't ask how this happened and there are just two of us as far as I know of in the world and we are not related. Now, that by any standard is a minority :-D

I did not mean that by moving into Spanish Harlem, Angola or China a white person (which is a minority status in most places in the world) cannot experience what it is like to be any of those racial/ethnic groups. What I meant was that a person from a different racial/ethnic group can feel what it is like to be a minority. I had this experience in Mexico, Jamaica and the USSR. It is a very lonely experience, but is also helpful for the growth of the individual's character. When I am in the southwest USA or in Isreal I feel a kindship with the surrounding population that I often do not feel in most Caucasian based neighborhoods. That is just plain reality. Of course to a great extent one can assimulate, which I have done. But that assimulation is never complete. I understand what it means to be a minority. I do not know what it is like to be an African-American, Hispanic or Asian member of the community -- but my own experiences has taught me what it is like to be a minority within an alien majority culture. Thats all that I meant by my earlier posting.

Mike S. -- =================================================== Michael A. Schoenfield Michael A. Schoenfield & Associates, Ltd. 2637 Mason Street Voice: 608) 238-6121 Madison, WI 53705-3709 Fax: (608) 233-2507 E-Mail: maschoen@execpc.com ====================================================

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Date: Wed, 18 Mar 1998 23:36:42 -0600 
From: Danielle Skrodal <dcskrod@ILSTU.EDU> 
Subject: Review: IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION (Skrodal) 

Bergmann, Barbara R. IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. Basic Books: New  York, 1996

Reviewed by: Danielle Skrodal E-mail: dcskrod@ilstu.edu

Most Americans can agree that the legacy of slavery and discrimination still occurs in the form of racism and inequality today. The problem arises when trying to figure out what to do about it. In, IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, Barbara Bergmann suggests the only way to help is by keeping affirmative action alive. She believes that without it, we will never attain a gender-blind or color-blind society.

Bergmann defines affirmative action as "planning and acting to end the absence of certain kinds of people - those who belong to groups that have been subordinated or left out - from certain jobs and schools." Her main concern of the book is to discuss the means necessary to increase diversity in all jobs.

Bergmann starts off by describing three major motives for affirmative action. The first and most obvious as she calls it is to fight discrimination in the workplace against African Americans, Hispanics and white women. This helps minorities get a foot in the door, so to speak, where they might not have before. The second motive of affirmative action is to achieve integration and racial and gender diversity in the workplace. She cites an example of how a racially diverse community needs to have a racially diverse police force in order to have the trust of the whole community. Also, so one part of the community does not dominate the other. The third motive is to reduce the poverty of minority groups. She points to discrimination in the job market as being the cause of high poverty rates among children in the United States because black and white single mothers are not allowed access to the good paying jobs that would cover their health and child care needs.

I have to say that after reading these three motives, it really made me see the positives of affirmative action. It just makes sense that a diverse community needs a diverse police force, so everyone can be represented. Also, the motive concerning single mothers makes sense. They already have a hard enough time. Of course there might be some instances where this is not the case.

Bergmann also discusses that white males occupy most of the well-paying jobs. She shares a startling statistic about our U.S. Senate. Through 1996, 92% of the 100 members were male and 99% were white. As for the comparison of wages, in 1976, black men made only 79% of white men's wages. In 1995, white women's wages were only 73% of white men's and black women's wages were only 63% of white men's wages.

Bergmann also reported on some recent research findings by the Urban Institute. The institute chose random entry-level jobs from the newspaper and sent a pair of testers, one black, one white, to apply. The testers were equal in physical size, education and experience, but of course not race. The testers were told to turn down any job offer, so the other would get a chance to apply for it. The Urban Institute's findings were that white males were offered jobs 45% more than the black males. Bergmann feels that these findings are evidence that employers simply do not treat the two races as equals, even though the two testers were pretty equal. I found this study very interesting to read about. This study actually took the time to find two different colored testers that were almost equal, except for their race and still the white male got the bulk of the offers. It really can open one's eyes to the discrimination that is out there in the job market.

Bergmann blames this discrimination still taking place and affirmative action's lack of effectiveness on Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). This is the main government agency that pushes affirmative action. She claims they are understaffed, lacks vigor and effective ways to encourage compliance. The OFCCP requires firms that do more than $50,000 worth of business with the government to report to them annually. The OFCCP has a staff of 918 and a 1995 budget of $59 million, which makes it hard to supervise the 150,000 workplaces that employ 28 million of the United States' workforce. Bergmann explains, "It makes about 4,000 compliance reviews a year, a rate at which it could investigate each workplace in its purview once every eight years." She also cites that only 41 firms have been debarred since 1972. I felt that this was a strong argument. These statistics are mind-boggling. This agency is definitely not fully equipped to be handling such an important issue.

Another issue to affirmative action is the use of quotas. Many opponents of affirmative action believe that the goals of affirmative action constitute quotas. Bergmann suggests that employment goals should only be set for a group who "is seriously underrepresented in an occupation or at a hierarchical level in the workplace." Also, if "The underrepresentation continues because of present discrimination and the pattern of exclusion if unlikely to change in the absence of special efforts." Bergmann notes that if the discriminated groups become overrepresented, then goals should be set for whites and males to be integrated. This is one instance where she tries to make both sides happy. Bergmann says, "Goals for a group should be discarded when its members have become well integrated into the labor market." My only problem with her solution is in wondering how will we ever know when this full integration is truly implemented? Who will supervise something like this?

Bergmann also discusses the benefits of diversity. One benefit is that it shows an organization does not exclude a certain type of person from performing a duty. Another benefit is that by having various groups, it provides you with different points of view and insights. She cites one example of medical research being done mostly by males concerning males. This provides us with more information on men's health than women's health. Bergmann also feels that diversity in the workplace "helps dismantle two caste systems - one based on race and another based on gender." She feels that by being in this caste system, one is stuck with the social status that they are born into. Although, this is not around much now, its scars are still with us.

I felt the strongest argument in her book was why people care so much about giving minorities preferences through affirmative action, but no one ever complains about things like veteran's preferences or preferences if you are an alumni's child or an athlete trying to get admitted. Bergmann feels that the reasons for affirmative action outweigh the others. She says that affirmative action will help "to cure this country's racial cleavage, improve the parity of blacks in the job market, encourage blacks and whites to know each other on campus and to give a hand to the many young black people who grow up in bad environments." She feels that people who believe in preferences for athletes and alumni's children should eliminate these special admissions, they then "will have acquired the moral standing to raise their voices against affirmative action." I felt this was an excellent comparison. I had never really thought about comparing the two before. It does make sense though. Why have preferences for some and then think preferences for others are wrong? If any deserve preferences, it might be the veterans for their past contribution.

Bergmann next addresses the question of "Does affirmative action hurt its intended beneficiaries?" Most opponents to affirmative action say that the plan makes blacks lazy and makes blacks angry at whites and vice versa. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said in a case, "These programs stamp minorities with a badge of inferiority and may cause them to develop dependencies or to adopt an attitude that they are 'entitled' to preferences." Bergmann feels that affirmative action is similar to the side effects of medications. You may have some bad results, but it will get better.

To illustrate her point, Bergmann uses an example that she witnessed while teaching at the University of Maryland in the Economics Department. When the department hired its first black secretary, the three secretaries, soon to be her co-workers, tried hard to prevent her hiring, on the grounds of lack of competence. After she was hired, the three others ignored her. After a month, they stopped ignoring her. The black secretary stayed on through the bad times and kept her job, which she might never have got without affirmative action. She had the will to stay on the job, even if meant bearing an incompetent label. I felt this was a very positive and interesting example. It really does show that if one can stick it out long enough, things will eventually work out.

Barbara Bergmann does an excellent job in defending the practice of affirmative action. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested or lacking knowledge of the subject. She gives great examples and always backs up her argument. You can tell that her heart is really in the matter of keeping affirmative action around. She feels it is the only answer right now, until more integration is achieved. The only concern I had was how we will ever be able to tell when integration is achieved.

Danielle Skrodal dcskrod@ilstu.edu Back to top...


Date: Mon, 16 Mar 1998 16:48:52 -0600 
From: "John C. Japuntich" <jcjapun@ILSTU.EDU> 
Subject: Review: Bergmann,(Japuntich) 

Barb Bergmann, In Defense of Affirmative Action (Harper Collins, 1996) Reviewed by: John C. Japuntich 3-16-98

What is one of the most controversial topics of the United States today? It is affirmative action. Affirmative action is giving discriminated races, ethnicity’s, and genders preferential treatment to those who are not discriminated against. But of course this brings out the opponents and proponents who are for and against affirmative action in full force. There are many companies in the United States who do use affirmative action plans. On the other hand proposition 209 passed in California banning affirmative action in certain areas on employment and contracting. Barbara Bergmann in her piece IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION tries to justify affirmative action that even though it is not perfect that it is still the best discrimination program we still have today. There is a common myth Bergmann argues that causes blacks and women to get discriminated against today and for the past century. It is the assumption blacks and women are inferior and unsuitable for many roles or positions in the U.S. society. To counter this discrimination and to help minorities and women get their foot in the door, affirmative action was set up. There are three motives for the introduction of affirmative action programs. The first is that affirmative action provides a series of practical steps for dismantling discrimination. The second motive is the desire for integration. And the third step is to reduce poverty of certain groups. Bergmann argues that " much of poverty, social disorganization, welfare dependency, and crime is rooted in discrimination against people based on race and sex and in the deprivation and feelings of exclusion, hopelessness, and resentment it causes." That line is an important one because it is true in our society. We do not give blacks jobs to support themselves because of this "inferior" complex we all have, so they naturally do what they have to to survive. This means selling drugs, robbing, stealing, and even killing people if needs be. If these minorities were given jobs to support themselves then crime, poverty, welfare dependency, and social disorganization would almost certainly be lowered.

There are those skeptics that believe discrimination is not that large and is blown out of proportion. I was one of those skeptics. There was a study done by the Urban Institute pairing whites and blacks together with almost identical backgrounds to put on their applications for various jobs. They were coached to act the same in their interviews and follow up interviews. After the case studies were completed the Urban Institute researchers found that the young white men were offered jobs 45% more than the black applicants. So why hasn’t affirmative action been more effective? Bergmann argues that it is four different reasons. The first is that white male workers are not ready to accept affirmative action. Many people want to hire blacks are women because they do not want to start tensions, rile employees up, and mess up chemistry amongst the workers. The second reason is the OFCCP. The OFCCP is the main governmental agency responsible for pushing affirmative action in the workplace. The OFCCP is understaffed, lacks vigor, been poorly managed, and has a budget of $59 million and a staff of only 918 to provide minuscule resources for its task of supervising nondiscrimination in the 150,000 workplaces of federal contractors, which employ 28 million people, one-quarter of the nations workforce. The OFCCP makes about 4,000 compliance reviews a year, a rate at which it could investigate each workplace once every 38 years. A third reason is the failure of small firms. There are 6.2 million places of work in the United States, excluding government agencies. Of these, 6 million have fewer than 100 employees; these small workplaces employ 56 % of those working for private employers. These small firms are different from large corporations. Their hiring process is more segregated than large firms. They hire friends of employees and relatives of employees. They do not open up many opportunities to any one else. And the fourth reason is that companies actually do not follow through on affirmative action. It is not a law that you HAVE to have affirmative action programs. Bergmann argues that many companies put up a few posters praising equality and integration and do nothing else.

The hiring process for many employers does not think about race but about customers. The goal of any business is to make money. To make money you must have customers and you must keep your customers. Bergmann argues that many businesses hire whites over blacks is to deal with customers. In an upscale restaurant, white waiters are seen as the norm and viewed as a symbol of wealth and class. So why would an employer hire a black waiter in that establishment to take the chance to ruin his business. Businesses know what customers want and will hire accordingly. Again comes the "inferior" complex with which blacks are viewed as inferior with unreliable job skills. Bergmann also argues that if blacks are indeed given a chance they will adapt to their surroundings. Bergmann uses an example when a black secretary was hired in the place of a white one. The other secretaries at first were unwilling to cooperate with her and did not show her the ropes. But after they accepted the fact that she was going to be there they treated her with dignity and equality. Her point seems to be that employers should at least give blacks and women a chance for employment, and if they prove themselves worthy then keep them, if not fire them.

Affirmative Action programs are not quotas, but goals and timetables. But who should goals be aimed at? Aren’t Jews, Hispanics, Asians, and Mormons to name a few underrepresented? Bergmann argues that employment goals should be set for a group only if ALL of the following conditions are met. 1. If the group is seriously underrepresented in an occupation or at a hierarchical level in the workplace. 2. The underrepresentation continues because of present discrimination, or because of current employer practices or habits that effectively exclude members of the group. 3. If the pattern of exclusion is unlikely to change in the absence of special efforts. What is meant by underrepresented? There are still more whites by far then all other races together in the U.S. Also certain geographical areas of the U.S. might not have many blacks, Asians etc. to chose from. I think those two factors should be considered before having a three condition program which equals underrepresentation.

Why should diversity be a goal in the first place? As stated earlier diversity can bring about employee unrest, have unwanted tensions among employees and can cause harm to chemistry. Bergmann argues that there are some reasons that can counter those mentioned above. Diversity in the workplace prevents power from being concentrated in any one group and thus can promise sympathetic and fair treatment to all sections of the public. Diversity can bring differing points of view, insights, values, and knowledge of the world that members of various groups bring to their roles. Is this really a positive though? Having too many opinions on a matter can result to confusion, poor quality of work and wasted time in making decisions. Shouldn’t the goal of an organization be to do quality work in the shortest amount of time? Another benefit of diversity and perhaps the most important according to Bergmann is that it dismantles two caste systems - one based on race and another based on gender that have been responsible for a great deal of misery.

There has always been the thought that affirmative action makes its recipients lazy. Bergmann argues that this is a myth. A teacher at Brown University argues that those students that were admitted under affirmative action were overachievers and worked the hardest. In employment, affirmative action makes training more attractive. This is their one shot and if they mess up they could get fired. Thus affirmative action is motivation to work harder. According to Bergmann blacks think affirmative action does not have a negative effect on them. In a study done by Bergmann, 89% of those asked would welcome a chance to receive a job through affirmative action.

There are still many possible alternatives to that of affirmative action. Bergmann argues there are three major alternatives each with flaws. The first alternative is to help those with disadvantaged backgrounds. This type of program would actually single out whites since there are actually more whites in poverty than any other race. This would make this type of program more popular to whites than any other race. The second possible solution that experts argue is enforcing laws against discrimination. To do this though one must submit a discrimination lawsuit to the EEOC which only handles 500 out of 60,000 cases a year. Lawsuits are also costly and time consuming and would not even be worth it in the long run argues Bergmann. The final program that many experts argue for is for better education and training for blacks and women. This also would not matter argues Bergmann. Blacks and women with the same or better qualifications to that of males and whites still do not get the jobs. For example women who graduate from college earn little more than their male counterparts who graduate from highschool.

IN DEFENSE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION is a book worth reading. Bergmann along for arguing for affirmative action also gives the many flaws affirmative action can have. She agrees that affirmative action is not a perfect program but that it is the best program out there now. It can cause reverse discrimination to those who were actually better qualified, but this must be done to let disadvantaged groups in the door. The biggest flaw with affirmative action is that it is not a law. No company has to follow affirmative action although they look better if they do. Bergmann should have addressed the problems women, Asians, and other minorities faced in dealing with discrimination. She focused on blacks and that hurt her. People automatically think of blacks when the word affirmative action is thrown out. How about disabled or handicapped persons that are white males. Many people seem cynical of affirmative action when they hear about it. I’m sorry, many white males become cynical about affirmative action when they hear the word. Little do they know that sports scholarships, alumni preference, deans preference and veteran’s preference are a few programs that are affirmative action programs that out nation hails about. Bergmann style of writing is more like a text book at times. I wish she would throw her opinion in more and use less facts. Actually many of her points are one’s that public knows but is afraid to agree with. No one would admit they hire whites because they think blacks and women are inferior and can not do a job as well as their white male counterparts. Affirmative action is failing as Bergmann argues leaving no program to really help the disadvantaged out. I do not agree with Bergmann that affirmative action will solve crime and make society better. Affirmative will just piss off white males, whom their is still a majority of in the U.S. Bergmann fails to mention that blacks must just not be given jobs but higher paying jobs that are worth going to everyday. This a good first step. I recommend this book to anyone who is not educated on affirmative action and racism. Lets not kid ourselves. We all have our opinion of affirmative action, we just do not talk about it out of fear and stupidity.     Back to top...


Date: Thu, 7 May 1998 07:50:08 -0500 
From: "Scott Syoen (by way of Gary Klass 
Subject: REVIEW: "In Defense of Affirmative Action" (Syoen) 

Scott Syoen REVIEW: "In Defense of Affirmative Action," By Barbara Bergmann reviewed by Scott Syoen <smsyoen@ilstu.edu>    

It is curious that affirmative action is so closely scrutinized by the media, for two primary reasons. First, while the debate so often centers around the employment opportunities or lack thereof for blacks, most blacks don't consider affirmative action to be the most important issue facing them today. Second, in spite of all sorts of rhetoric from both sides, the job market is relatively unchanged today from how it was when affirmative action programs were first implemented. This second point is the main concern of Barbara Bergmann's _In Defense of Affirmative Action_.

What Bergmann seeks is nothing less that a complete reassessment of affirmative action, from the ground up. She believes that the debate has been diverted so far off course by conservatives of all races and both sexes that almost no one is even sure what it's about anymore, and the best course of action is to just start from square one. She does so, admirably, by examining what affirmative actions is about, what it isn't about, and what misconceptions surround it.

Begmann's main concern, and the fact which she believes is the most similar to the early days of affirmative action, is the extent of job segregation in the United States. She believes that the profound segregation of races and sexes into particular jobs (usually determined traditional ideas of "appropriateness") is, more than anything else, serving to keep minorities and women poor, uninfluential, and powerless, relative to white men.

Many people would agree that employers still award jobs that they deem "appropriate" for a particular race or class, but this is not often well supported by studies. Generally speaking, a major deficiency in most of the debate over affirmative action that goes on now is a profound lack of research by both opponents and advocates of such proposals; empirical evidence is simply eschewed in favor of more ideological stances. However, Bergmann presents a reasonable amount of just such information, and the statistics she produces bolster her case strongly. Her case that affirmative action should be primarily about job discrimination is all the more convincing because she can back it up with raw numbers. For example, she notes that "jobs in which 100% of the [workers] were [of one sex or the other] accounted for 70% of all jobs...only 14% of respondents held jobs in which males and females worked together in numbers approximating their share in the workplace." This last number was 15% for jobs in which blacks and whites had shares approximately equal to their proportion in the workforce. Clearly, Bergmann's argument that segregation is rampant despite affirmative action is largely true.

She then embarks upon an examination of the conditions and attitudes which produce this segregation. Often, employers put undue emphasis on a majority applicant's positive traits, while downplaying their negative traits. In fact, this was observed in a study Bergmann recounts; the result was that fewer blacks were hired for a position since whatever their good points were, these points were deemed "not as important" as the good points of white male applicants. Also, an employer may see it as a risk to integrate positions which have always been filled by members of the majority, and consider taking such a risk to be unjustifiable. Finally, simple tradition may be what an employer leans on; rather than fearing risk, they may genuinely believe that minorities and women don't want certain positions, or aren't qualified for them on account of their sex or race.

However, one might guess that despite such segregation, minorities and women have closed the wage gap that exists between themselves and white men. Not true, according to Bergmann; women and minorities still make considerably less than white men, with white women coming the closest to parity, making $0.73 to the white male dollar.

This analysis of affirmative action is a far cry from that which is generally produced, which more often than not hews to the "redress for past wrongs" stereotype that Bergmann explicitly avoids (though she doesn't think it particularly unreasonable). Bergmann is careful not to resort to the sort of relishment of victimhood that opponents of affirmative action so often accuse its proponents of maintaining. She is unrelentingly pragmatic, merely maintaining that such segregation is harmful and unjust, and if we wish to change it, affirmative action is the best way.

However, if it is to be substantial, affirmative action cannot simply be a set of requests or recommendations; it must have the full force of the law behind it. To this end, Bergmann unhesitatingly endorses "numerical goals and timetables," which is essentially another way to say "quotas."

Opponents of affirmative action react violently to quotas, believing them to be the worst form of reverse discrimination. Further, the Supreme Court has struck down strict quotas as unconstitutional. Why, then, does Bergmann endorse them? First, because she finds them to be a not unreasonable means of determining whether or not an employer has in fact adopted discriminatory hiring practices. If the percentage of a minority in the local workforce is far above the percentage of these minorities that a company in fact employs for a job category, it is a good bet that the company has, at best, failed to adequately recruit qualified minority applicants, or, at worst, actively discriminated against such applicants. Second, because no other means of enforcing affirmative action exists that can definitely produce tangible results. Finally, Bergmann is very exact about the conditions under which she believes quotas are appropriate: The group must be seriously underrepresented, the underrepresentation must be caused by discrimination or excluding practices, and the pattern of exclusion must be likely to be changed only by "special efforts."

Yet many people on both sides of the debate hesitate to endorse quotas because they are seen as the same, in principle, as the attitudes which proponents of affirmative action are struggling against. After all, if we abhor the categorization of people by race or sex when it hurts them, how can we embrace this categorization when we believe it will help them and maintain consistency? To Bergmann, however, this is beside the point, because such an argument assumes that discrimination does not exist in the workplace. However, since it does, the only way to adequately combat it is to fight it on the very same ground.

Yet, an affirmative action opponent might counter, doesn't such a plan necessarily victimize white men who are sometimes more qualified for a position that a minority who receives it because of a quota? Not so, says Bergmann. After all, many of these men receive extra consideration in the manners described above, and their . Further, *what else are we to do?* Simply let such job segregation continue, despite the fact that it creates such disparity in pay and limits the opportunities of minorities to such a large extent? In view of the evidence that she presents, Bergmann concludes that to let things continue as they have been is even more unjust that instituting quotas.

Bergmann next considers the contention that, broadly speaking, affirmative action is an insult to minorities, a tacit admission that they cannot achieve on their own. To counter this contention, Bergmann produces studies that show quite a different reaction from minorities themselves: blacks would often accept jobs awarded from affirmative action, and have no feeling of guilt or having received something unearned for having done so. At one point, Bergmann also notes that preference in universities and businesses for children and associates of alumni or owners has not been decried on the same grounds, yet they receive a great many benefits simply through accident of birth, and not through any effort of their own. Perhaps when considered in the broad context of all of society's preferences and prejudices, affirmative action isn't so unusual and paternal as it may seem when viewed under a microscope.

Yet, despite past efforts, and the implementation of affirmative action programs on a wide scale, discrimination and disparity persist. Is this not evidence that affirmative action, despite its high-minded motives, is basically ineffective? Bergmann believes that the reason for this failure is attributable to a lack of wide and thorough enough effort. Essentially, she maintains that affirmative action has not been implemented correctly or enthusiastically enough, and thus criticism of it at this point is unfounded.

Bergmann's defense of affirmative action is thorough and convincing. She does not hesitate to lay bare the real issues that we face in this debate: de facto segregation and group justice. She also makes a strong case that no other remedy for these ills has yet been proposed which both deals with them adequately and eliminates race or sex from the equation. One feels that if such a remedy were conceived of, Bergmann would accept it, but until such a time, affirmative action certainly seems to be the best route. Hopefully, her contribution to the debate will be carefully considered in place of the usual bad arguments that both sides produce.

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