Justice Scalia’s comments on black students: Wrong and discriminatory

Brian L. Pauling is president of 100 Black Men of America Inc., a global nonprofit mentoring organization with more than 100 chapters reaching 125,000 youth in the United States, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean.

By Brian L. Pauling

Much of the initial outrage over statements made by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last month during oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin has abated, but deep disappointment remains. To suggest black college students might fare better by attending “less-advanced” or “slower-track” colleges and universities than more elite schools like the University of Texas makes it abundantly clear that he has no regard for the capabilities of African-American students.

During the Fisher vs. University of Texas hearing, Antonin Scalia said, "One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don't come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they're being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them." (AP Photo/Chris Greenberg)

During the Fisher vs. University of Texas hearing, Justice Antonin Scalia said, “One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.” (AP Photo/Chris Greenberg)

Justice Scalia’s comments are as wrong as they are discriminatory. Additionally, his assumptions in no way match what we at 100 Black Men of America Inc. know about the capabilities of African-American youth based on our experiences with the thousands we serve.

As the 100 enters its 53rd year of service to youth and communities, we have five decades of testimonies that soundly prove that all students have the ability to learn at high levels when given the proper opportunity, access and support to do so.

Particularly mystifying to me is how a Supreme Court justice – a position that sets the tone and is responsible for ensuring a system of equity across this great nation – could be so blinded by and embracing of such negative stereotypes relative to the academic abilities of black students. The implication that they are incapable of operating at high levels is more than concerning. It’s absolute nonsense.

It is well documented that, irrespective of race, students who attend high-performing schools and are taught by high-performing instructors do well. Too often, however, those two critical variables are not available to students equally in cities across our nation.

The 100 believes the right to learn often equals the right to earn. As such, my organization has taken a public stand in favor of national education reform. Critical to education reform is that all students have access to high-performing schools where they receive a quality education and increased enrichment opportunities, whether traditional public schools or nonprofit public charters. Since the overwhelming majority of our children are educated in public schools, we maintain our long-held belief that public schools must become equitably funded and high performing. We also support high-performing, evidence-based, nonprofit, public charter schools as an acceptable alternative for parents seeking educational options to traditional public schools.

We strive daily to change the life outcomes and trajectory of underserved and disenfranchised African-American youth. We know that the quality of education they receive will aid in their successful transition to a rewarding career and becoming contributing members of society. If Justice Scalia and like-minded individuals were more fixated on ensuring that every child has access to a high-quality education, the need for programs like those at the University of Texas would lessen, and African-American students would be in a much better place.

 

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59 comments
MJ Hannibal Battles
MJ Hannibal Battles

Each of these cases are rooted in bigotry and I will explain why.

In each case, a large number of less qualified White students were admitted over the complainants. But the law suits were ONLY filed because a small number of less qualified minorities were admitted over the complainants.

In essence what the complainants and their supporters are saying. It's ok for a less qualified WHITE to get an opportunity over me, but not a minority.

Pure Bigotry!!!!

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Google Patrick Chavis, one of five black students admitted ahead of more qualified white students into Univ. of California medical school under affirmative action programs.  The resulting lawsuit was one of the first legal actions against affirmative action in college admissions and the US Supreme Court struck down the program.  Colleges have been trying to skirt around the discriminatory realities of affirmative action programs ever since.

Chavis went on to become a poster child of affirmative action programs - that is, until he got his medical license yanked for malpractice and he killed several patients as a result of his incompetence.


So, the question remains.  If your loved one is on the operating table in a life and death situation, who do you want as their doctor?  Someone who got admitted to medical school based on qualifications and merit or someone who got admitted in order to satisfy some arbitrary diversity quota and who most likely barely graduated at the bottom of their class?

I know what I would choose.  How about you?

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Lee_CPA2 

 I took your advice, and Googled Patrick Chavis. This is an ancient case...SC resolved it in 1978, and decided against universities being able to use race to decide admissions or to have racial quotas. Wouldn't that suggest that medical schools no longer use race to decide admissions, so your question above is moot?

GB101
GB101

@OriginalProf @Lee_CPA2 It may suggest that medical schools no longer use race, but I would not bet on that.  Experience has shown us that schools are very good at disguising their discriminatory admissions practices.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@OriginalProf @Lee_CPA2

Yes, the Supreme Court ruled that universities couldn't use race as an admissions factor, and here we are forty years later with universities using race as an admissions factor.  They never stopped.  They put in one discriminatory practice, a lawsuit is filed and it gets shut down.  They then implement another race based admittance scheme.  It gets shut down.  So on and so forth.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Lee_CPA2 @OriginalProf 

That SC ruling never stated that race could not be used as a factor, only that admission could not depend on race and that schools could not have racial quotas. It has always been legal to use race as one factor among many (such as gender, socio-economic status, geographical region, etc.).
 

GB101
GB101

"The implication that they are incapable of operating at high levels is more than concerning. It’s absolute nonsense."


Scalia was clearly referring to the mismatch issue.  Students whose credentials qualify them for a community college or even a state university will not do as well at MIT as students who meet  MIT's normal criteria.  He was not talking about all black students, only the ones who get into MIT because of their race, not their credentials.


Of course, it doesn't matter (or it shouldn't matter) whether so called affirmative action hurts some of its intended beneficiaries or not.  The court should be basing its decision on whether it is legal.  It is up to congress, not the court, to determine what is good policy.  And congress decided that decades ago.  Racial discrimination is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Problem is, the United States Government has been breaking its own law since the 60s and has permitted or forced others to break the law also.


But going back to Pauling's editorial: does he really believe that a black student with an SAT score of, say, 1900 can be expected to perform well in a class where the vast majority of students made 2250? Did he say something about "absolute nonsense?



Ofellia
Ofellia

Justice Scalia was also referencing a study, so the focus of any op ed should be on the validity of the study, not the assumed personal beliefs of the judge. Typical AJC reporting, attacking conservatives with race baiting and not adressing facts.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Ofellia I read the transcript of the hearing. Justice Scalia was not referencing a "study," but a legal brief. 

This is from the actual transcript of the hearing:


http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/14-981_p8k0.pdf



JUSTICE SCALIA:  There are ­­ there are 11 those who contend that it does not benefit 12 African­Americans to ­­ to get them into the University 13 of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having 14 them go to a less­advanced school, a less ­­ a 15 slower­track school where they do well.  One of ­­ one 16 of the briefs pointed out that ­­ that most of the ­­ 17 most of the black scientists in this country don't come 18 from schools like the University of Texas. 19  MR. GARRE:  So this Court ­­ 20  JUSTICE SCALIA:  They come from lesser 21 schools where they do not feel that they're ­­ that 22 they're being pushed ahead in ­­ in classes that are 23 too ­­ too fast for them. 24  MR. GARRE:  This Court ­­ 25  JUSTICE SCALIA:  I'm just not impressed by Alderson Court Reporting 68 Official ­ Subject to Final Review 1 the fact that ­­ that the University of Texas may have 2 fewer.  Maybe it ought to have fewer.  And maybe some ­­ 3 you know, when you take more, the number of blacks, 4 really competent blacks admitted to lesser schools, 5 turns out to be less.  And ­­ and I ­­ I don't think 6 it ­­ it ­­ it stands to reason that it's a good thing 7 for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as 8 possible.  ­

Ofellia
Ofellia

@MaureenDowney @Ofellia Precisely the point, start from the beginning, "There are those who contend", who is Scalia referencing?  And the "brief" which may or may not include a "study" or statistics to show that most of the black scientists in the country don't come from schools like the University of Texas----Justice Scalia wasn't pulling the information from his head out of thin air.  The op-ed doesn't address the supporting statements of his quote taken out of context.  Instead, you post an op-ed of someone who calls Scalia's comments both wrong and discriminatory, but he doesn't even address the purported arguments Justice Scalia uses to support his opinion.


Opinion pieces are fine.  But good opinions reference facts, not "it is well documented. . ." 

mackdenny
mackdenny

Try reading his WHOLE comment, not take a few sentences out of context,

jezel
jezel

Since justice is blind....it might serve Scalia well.... to be color blind.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@jezel

Perhaps if college admissions were "color blind" and based on academic  merit, Scalia wouldn't have had to point out that students who are admitted to universities beyond their academic achievement level might be better served by attending a community or local college.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Too many white racists have given their uneducated and callous opinions on this thread.


However, these people are only reflections of their portion of society as a whole.  Better to shine the sickness of their mental and emotional wounds to the light than to let them fester, forever, in the darkness.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@MaryElizabethSings

Ah yes, anyone who doesn't ascribe to the politically correct party line is "ignorant" and "uneducated".

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

"Since the overwhelming majority of our children are educated in public schools, we maintain our long-held belief that public schools must become equitably funded and high performing. We also support high-performing, evidence-based, nonprofit, public charter schools as an acceptable alternative for parents seeking educational options to traditional public schools."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

As a public school teacher, grades 1 - 12, for 35 years, having taught an equal number of white and black students, as well as other ethnic/racial groups of students, as well as an instructional leader of thousands of students for over 25 years, I lend my committed support to the value of the sentences I have highlighted above.

Every child is unique.  The total deprivation that black students have sustained for generations through society's callousness, however, is undeniable.  The rate at which these particular students have improved their reading skills, once Jim Crow ended, has been extraordinarily rapid, which speaks highly of their innate intelligence, as a group. 

Numenor
Numenor

@MaryElizabethSings   As a University Professor for nearly 30 years, I have personally witnessed the impact of racial quotas on admissions and performance. I've seen many well-qualified students denied admission simply because they did not fit a pre-designed racial preference quota. It is not fair to them either. Plus, I can tell you from years of personal observations that although AA's make up a minority of students at the universities where I have taught, they typically constitute a disproportionately high number of students facing academic issues. That's not being discriminatory, but is simply stating a fact. That is something society as a whole needs to address.

Mandating racial quotas in admissions is a small band-aid on a much larger issue. Education starts long before university. It is a mindset that must be fostered early in life. At present, nearly 3 out of 4 AA children are born into single-parent homes with little or no solid masculine role model. If you want to address racial disparities in education, seek first to address the disparities present in the AA home. Educated male role models at home will do much to set the environment for AA children to value and pursue higher education. It would also make my job much easier. Four years at a college helps, but can't undo the damage done by 18 years of educational deficits at home. 

Having a village may help, but first and foremost it takes 2 parents to raise a child and train them up in the way they should go. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Numenor @MaryElizabethSings 

I was a University professor for more than 30 years total before I retired, and I am very curious just how you could know that students were "denied admission simply because they did not fit a pre-designed racial preference quota."  We professors do not serve on the administrative student admission committees. This sounds purely speculative on your part.

Patrick Bruce
Patrick Bruce

Currently the voting Rights act(Law) is being violated, everytime a person is denied access to the ballet box while in police custody. If you are detained by the state on election day, you are unable to vote unless you have a absentee or provisional ballot before your arrest.  If you are in jail  on election day, you are unable to cast your ballet unless you are voting with a provisional or absentee ballot.  The situation is even more dire if you are in prison. The Voting Rights laws requires the  free and fair access to vote. Please help clear up this problem in our voting system.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@Patrick Bruce

Short answer:  Don't engage in activities that get your butt locked up.  Don't worry about the criminals in jail not voting, worry about the criminals running for office.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Much better to put black students into a college where they will likely struggle and fail....say the so called "caring and compassionate ones".  


Reminds me of the idiot libs who pushed "home ownership" - meaning taking on massive mortgages - for poor people.  People who were going to be unable to pay the mortgage back, if they ran into the slightest "blip" in their job situation.  And who were much better off in a rental situation, where they could cut costs easily if needed.


But somehow that was caring and compassionate as well.  


Sad how folks who really do care, can't see how their policies absolutely destroy the folks they truly believe they are taking care of.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@dcdcdc

They're doing it again.  This time, they want to allow the income of the "extended families" to factor into the mortgage evaluation.    Merely a backhanded attempt to issue sub-prime loans to hispanics.

GatorDad
GatorDad

I would like to commend Mr. Pauling for the work and service of 100 Black Men of America, Inc., however, I must disagree with his analysis. While very poorly phrased, Justice Scalia was clearly referencing "mismatch" theory, the idea that an individual to whom a large admissions preference is granted will underperform peers who were not granted such a preference. Whether evidence supports this theory is hotly contested among academics and social science researchers, but questioning whether affirmative action disadvantages certain minorities does not evidence a discriminatory intent.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Justice Scalia's comments about black students being better served by admittance to universities more in line with their academic ability is discriminatory, so sayeth the president of 100 BLACK MEN.

So, an organization whose sole purpose is the advancement of a specific race is not discriminatory, but a comment that says admittance to a university should be based on academic merit is.

Hmmmm.

I guess Maureen's feeling the pressure to get some comments on this blog.  Two articles on race in two days.   How's that "premium content" thingy working out for ya Maureen.  Not too good, I'd say.

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

@Lee_CPA2 You can only be a raciest if you are white! Apparently your education is lacking Mr. CPA ! I need some of that stuff that sing takes.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Lee_CPA2 

These articles seem quite appropriate on the week-end before the King holiday.

Legong
Legong

Justice Scalia clearly has the best interests of black students in mind, and has here suggested a reasonable approach.

But the same attititudes which prevent the liberal mind from grasping the problems holding back young blacks -- notably, that 72 percent are raised in homes without fathers present and thus suffer a real disadvantage -- prevent any reasonable discussion of a way forward.

What as Mr. Pauling's organization done to address this appalling statistic?

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Being present and being a married committed couple that sets an exhample for their kids are indeed very different, way to many minority kids are born into the world as a result of a casual relationship and suffer the consequences the rest of their life

ATLPeach
ATLPeach

@Legong Not being married and not being present are two completely different things. I teach low income black children and many more fathers are "present" than will ever be known. 

ATLPeach
ATLPeach

@Infraredguy Considering the extremely high divorce rate in America, I don't think most Americans value marriage all that much. Whites have a high rate of out of wedlock births as well, nearly 50%, but I NEVER hear a discussion about that. While I value marriage, have been married for 18 years, have parents that have been married for 45 years, I do realize that I am not the norm for most Americans, regardless of race. If two people are able to co-parent, I frankly don't care if they're married or not. Just do what's best for the child. While I would like to see more Americans married of all races, I certainly appreciate those that are a part of their child's life. Again, I see it every day. Dad may not have married mom, but he is there, he is present, he is doing his best to raise his kids. But again, you'd rather put him down for not marrying the mother than acknowledge that he is actually there for his kids. The black race will never be seen as anything positive for some people. 


Legong
Legong

As recently as the 1960s seventy-five percent of black children grew up with a father in the home.

Let's not pretend black children haven't suffered from the changes since then.

Legong
Legong

... though many here would like to.

Numenor
Numenor

@MaryElizabethSings @ATLPeach Slavery has been gone for over 150 years now. We must evaluate our current status and look ahead, not backward, to insure the success of all our children.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Numenor 

Jim Crow social system ended in the South less than 50 years ago.
We are capable of containing the realities of the past in our minds, as we also "look ahead. . . to insure the success of all our children."  Thinking in dichotomies is rarely enlightened thinking.

Bitcoined
Bitcoined

If you're trying to suggest black children growing up without a father in the home aren't at a disadvantage -- you should be ashamed of yourself.

Or are you suggesting that they regularly defraud our welfare system?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@ATLPeach 

An understanding of history, and of how "married" values were so hypocritical during slavery years, is sorely lacking from the discussion by those whose consciousness has not been raised by historical insight.  "The sins of the fathers are lived out in their sons (and in their grandsons and in their great-grandsons, etc.)."

FairValue
FairValue

The 100 is tired of scalia's racism! when hillary gets in office, she will be able to appoint more liberals to the court when a bunch of republican justices retire!

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Only if they are contributors to the Clinton Foundation

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

What is truly unfortunate about Justice Scalia's expressed opinion is that it is being used to frame the rationale for considering race in college admissions. He's arguing that it does the black applicants a disservice to be placed in highly competitive schools since they may well drop out (as may white students placed there, btw). But this assumes that the main reason for Affirmative Action in education is to benefit the black (or minority) student. This was not the rationale given by the SC in its 2003 decision. 

There, the rationale was that educational diversity benefits all students, majority as well as minority, for it encourages what psychologists term "cognitive dissonance"--which is a good thing. The students' traditional ways of thinking about things get shaken up by encountering different perceptions by students with different experiences.


Having interracial classes benefits all the students, in other words, not just the black ones. 


Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@OriginalProf

"The students' traditional ways of thinking about things get shaken up by encountering different perceptions by students with different experiences."


Yeah, because when I was in accounting class, I couldn't wait to hear Trayvon's explanation of Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (i.e. MACRS depreciation).

Q1225
Q1225

@Lee_CPA2 @OriginalProf  No one's impressed you're a CPA.  Accountants are people too dumb and socially awkward to work in finance.  You're fungible pencil pushers closer to "Trayvon" in the pecking order than you'd like to believe.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf @Lee_CPA2 

As well as courses in history (emphasized here for those who may not realize that the study of history is sometimes designated as a "social science").


Not understanding history with full consciousness often leads to poor communication between people and groups of people.  If the soul were pure enough, however, that intellectual understanding of history would not be necessary to have a loving communication between all people, of all classes, and of all colors.

Starik
Starik

@MaryElizabethSings @OriginalProf @Lee_CPA2 I took an early Black History course at the University of Illinois in 1968-1969.  We had a group of a dozen Black Panthers from Chicago who wore their uniforms, and a large number of white undergrads, largely female, who knew nothing at all about black people. They did learn quite a few things. 


We had one class on "Black English," the idea being that is was, in many respects a foreign language that needed to be studied and respected, like say German. The teacher - not the professor - had the whole class repeat some Black English phases: "Yo Mamma got a car? "My Momma ain't got no car." My Mamma ain't got sheeeit!"  All those little midwestern girls...      

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Lee_CPA2 @OriginalProf 

And you never had to take any other subject to get your degree?! Of course classes in math and the hard sciences (and Accounting) are fairly cut-and-dried. But at any college the students must take a variety of courses in different subjects. The exception would be the 1-year technical or professional degree. For a regular liberal arts degree, the student must take classes in the social sciences, the arts, literature, the humanities...all of which greatly benefit by having students with a wide range of perceptions. Business schools benefit from this too.

GB101
GB101

@OriginalProf This comment is mostly nonsense.  The law doesn't say anything about the benefits of diversity.  In the Bakke decision Justice Powell wrote about diversity being a compelling interest.  He kind of made it up, and people have been grasping at this straw ever since, as they hid and disguised their discriminatory practices.  


Even if racial diversity does have some benefits for all students, it does not create a legitimate basis for breaking the law.  

Numenor
Numenor

@OriginalProf Yes, but it is no longer about Minority Admissions. That has devolved into mandated admissions and preferences for selected  "underrepresented" minorities. There is no outcry or mandate for increased admission of Asian students on campuses, despite the fact that they are minorities and would also bring cognitive dissonance. If CD is desired, it has become selective for only certain minorities now. Now, there are even minorities among minorities, it seems. What ever happened to the idea of evaluating candidates simply on their objective qualifications, experiences, and "content of their character", instead of their color? 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@Q1225 @Lee_CPA2 @OriginalProf

Hell, I'm not impressed that I'm a CPA.  It's just a moniker on an anonymous computer blog.  Besides, the name "Tall Handsome Blonde Guy" was already taken.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@OriginalProf @Lee_CPA2

Yep, like everyone else, I had to suffer through all the Core Curriculum crap before you finally got to your major.

I was a "non-traditional" student and like most of the night school working stiffs, we quickly figured out that most of the classes were a complete waste of time and just a way to get into our pocketbooks.  

Of course, I did enjoy the PE classes where we went snow skiing in Boone NC and hiking the Appalachian Trail.