Growing up, we’re told by teachers, media, and society as a whole that we need to receive a high education and if not that, then start a job if we want to be successful in life. Although, yes, admission rates of students of color have increased over the past several years, it comes down to who is being admitted into these large universities such as UCLA or even UW Seattle. It’s an unspoken truth that Black individuals have a harder time getting admitted into universities than Caucasian students, and sometimes even Asian-American students. However, we often forget to ask why that is. As mentioned in our African-American Studies course, racial disparities is a huge and marginalized phenomenon in our school system.
The cultural artifact that I am using is a spoken word piece titled “The Black Bruin” by Sy Stokes. This video was released on November 4, 2013. The spoken word focuses on the racial disparities of Black students at UCLA. Stokes goes on to emphasize on affirmative action and the marginalization of black student’s education versus their athletic collegiate career. 43,239 students were admitted into UCLA in 2014, and only 4% of those who were admitted into the university were Black and/or African-American students, that’s only about 1730 students. 44% are male students and 56% are female students (“UCLA”), not to mention that there are less undergraduate black males than there are NCAA championships at UCLA. So why does this all matter? It matters because it’s 2015 and my artifact is heavily impacted by the Jim Crow Era. African-Americans/Blacks are still being objectified and “exploited as property and workers (Pittman, “Black Sexual Politics”) to benefit a racist institution. We (as a country) need to stop marginalizing the racial disparities of black students because it could possibly have a domino effect of “African-American men being more likely to be sent to jail than to college” (Pittman, “New Jim Crow”). This problem is not just their problem, it is all of our problems.
For my job, as a legislative coordinator advocating for House Bill 1541, I focus on data disaggregation, closing the educational gap, decrease of school to jail pipelines, and provide teachers with the proper training to become culturally competent in K-12 schools. So admission rates for students of color is something I feel very strongly about. As my artifact states statistics and data, it resonates with me personally because of the data disaggregation of admission rates. Yes, admission rates have increased and there are more students of color, but when you disaggregate the data, you see that there is a huge disparity in the enrollment of Asian-American students versus Native-American, black/African-American, and Hispanic students. Where admission rates for blacks fall short, incarceration and arrest rates make up for it, and that is a culture that society seems to accept (and we shouldn’t), and because of these rates making up for the lack of educational/work opportunity, institutions generalize certain ethnicities into to avoid hiring or admitting.
In class, we talk about affirmative action and racial disparities, and my artifact is a great example of this two because of the data that is presented in the spoken word. Bringing the spotlight to UW, as a student, it is extremely prevalent and obvious by just looking around that Caucasian and Asian-American students have the upper hand when it comes down to being admitted into the university. UW, though a fairly diverse school, is still not very diverse at all when we disaggregate the data. Having a large percentage of one minority ethnicity while other students of color still struggle to raise the percentage is not diversity. As a state, politically, we are a colorblind racist state compared to states in the south. Racism is such an unspoken of force, yet there are conscious political decisions being implemented into our universities to benefit the racial preference. We want to talk about having diversity in schools but we don’t want to break it down and recognize the substantial difference in admission rates among the many different ethnicities.
As a person of color who was placed into UW’s affirmative action program, the Equal Opportunity Program (EOP) under the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, I was given the ultimatum for being admitted into the UW: If I am a part of EOP, then I am a part of UW and if not, then I need to find an alternative route. This made me question my worth not only as a student, but as an individual because of all the required classes and tasks I had to complete throughout the year to sustain my admission and that causes macroaggression. There’s a direct reason why students of color are filling up courses like ENGL 109/110. These courses are basically dumbed down material for us to understand made us seem like incompetent and illiterate students. Why do I and several other students of color, of all the thousands of applicants, have to be the face of this new diversity program? Simply put, this helps improve the diversity image of UW. So it really came down to what’s more important, being used for your identity and receiving a higher education or just float around until I find something to do or somewhere to go to school? Now that I’m a student at UW, it is clear what choice I had to make even it had to cost me my culture. The EOP was offered to me because I graduated with a bad GPA and SAT score & because I’m a student of color, therefore it would be in the university’s reputation favor to offer me admission. So what good is affirmative action if ethnicity is not being appreciated in the way it should?
Ultimately, most (not all) affirmative action continue to fail students of color because the opportunities that are provided are still problematic, and because no one really accepts the fact that these don’t benefit students of color, it’s marginalized (yet again). This then leads to a great reputation for universities because no one sees the damage it’s actually doing to students of color. Media and Institutions fails to present representation in the data that is advertised. This is one of the many reasons I continue to push for disaggregated data. It’s 2015 and schools are still extremely segregated. We shouldn’t be fighting a fight that should have ended years ago, yet here we are… still waiting for change and “no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible” (Stokes).
Written By: Michelle Dinh
- “UCLA.” APB. 2017 Murphy Hall, 2015. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.
- Stokes, Sy. “The Black Bruins [Spoken Word] – Sy Stokes.” YouTube. YouTube, 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.
- Pittman, LaShawnda. “New Jim Crow.” AFRAM 101. University of Washington, Seattle. 10 Dec. 2015. Lecture.
- Pittman, LaShawnda. “Black Sexual Politics.” AFRAM 101. University of Washington, Seattle. 10 Dec. 2015. Lecture.