Do Minorities Really Get a “Free Pass”?

Maah Otchere


Yes, it’s time to talk about Affirmative Action or what many would describe as “positive discrimination.” For many people who are not familiar with the term, “positive discrimination is defined as a policy applied to those tending to be afflicted by or suffer from discrimination. Race as a factor in the United States college admission process has been a widely debated topic gaining Supreme Court coverage when Abigail Fisher sued the University of Texas Austin for not being accepted based on racial standards, which was absolutely not a valid reason. The only reason that I feel compelled to write about this topic is because some people still think that minorities are not intellectually capable. People still believe that there is no other logical explanation for minorities to be on a college campus. That minorities are not able to be scholarly adept.

Let me tell you a story. Keep in mind that this happened in the last week on campus.

I happened to become parched on Friday and went to the water fountain to fill up my water bottle. A white male was standing outside the doorway of the room of a white female and they were having a conversation.  The white male stated that his high school was the best public high school in New Jersey for two years straight. He then said that only the Hispanics went Ivy, and they went Ivy because they had “that” going for them. The White male stated: “If you are just smart and not any type of minority you have, like, no shot.” I had to pause myself from getting water to overhear or eavesdrop (whichever you prefer) because his words were confusing to me. To put in other words, the White male said that because some of his highschool mates were Hispanics, they were able to gain admission to an Ivy League institution and that if you were not a minority you had no shot of admission to an Ivy. Let me remind you what type of “shots” that non minorities have. According to the New York Times, in 2015, White people were 50% more likely to get an interview resulting in more jobs based on their name. White peopls were also better equipped to afford a vehicle because the prices were dropped about seven hundred dollars ($700) while the prices were raised for Black people. As shown by an infograph in The Atlantic, Hispanics worked the most hours, but were paid the least. Compared to White men, Hispanic men earned about three hundred dollars ($300) less than White men who worked shorter hours and for woman that gap was even greater. White people have an easier time when buying a house with a 10.4% chance of getting denied while Hispanics have a 21.9% chance of being denied with Blacks being at 27.6%, according to CNN Money. According to the FBI Supplemental Homicide Report of 2012, White people have a higher chance of living based on the fact that Black people make up 13% of the population, but are killed by police at a rate of 39%, when not attacking. It seems to me that these “shots” are pretty beneficial “shots” to have for that White male student who felt that he had no “shot.”   

Now, I want to make it clear that I am not blaming anyone for anything; this is just how our racialized system operates. It is up to us if we want to perpetuate the ideology of this racialized system that we call the United States of America.  For that White male student to opine that the Hispanics were accepted into Ivy League institutions simply because of their race is to say that those Hispanic high school students essentially were not smart enough to gain admission on their own merit.  Sure, their minority status might be a consideration after meeting other merit criteria. However, it is not the sole reason. Maybe the White kids in his high school were not academically strong enough, or didn’t do enough extracurricular, or didn’t have a great college essay. These reasons are not racial reasons, they are purely individual attributes that everyone can lack. There are a whole slew of reasons that people don’t gain admission into colleges. There are too many variables to assume and declare that someone’s acceptance or denial is due to their race. If we do this then we are saying and perpetuating the conception that intelligence is a “White thing”- that intelligence belongs to the White race. If we continue to racialize education, we accept and support the idea that having an education, achieving high grades, and graduating with honors is “acting White”. For that specific male student to say those specific words is one of the reasons why Villanova is so racially segregated. To the White boy who made that egregious assumption, I would like to let you know that minorities are in fact, intelligent and do in fact belong on college campuses, Ivy and all and considering what history has shown us, are in fact capable of receiving highbrow education on our own.