Thinking about affirmative action makes me want to fucking cry. Here is an ongoing discussion in the ucberkeley livejournal: http://community.livejournal.com/ucberkeley/1563974.html

Real quickly, here are a few thoughts:
1) I saw Walter Benn Michaels give a talk at Iowa last last week. Remember that what I am about to say is from a layperson’s point of view, and that this is the livejournal (read: “very informal brain-dump space”) of an insomnatic ingenue. With that caveat, what I understood to be one of his basic arguments is, if I may be permitted to boil him down simply without getting him totally wrong (which I very well may be): Affirmative action as a way to deal with social injustice is foolish, because talking about race is a mask to avoid talking about the real social injustice of poverty. Talking about race and “celebrating cultural diversity” (something he kept mocking) allows conservatives and liberals alike to alleviate whatever guilt they feel about social injustice and to say “hey look we’re doing something to help some people.” But nobody talks about “celebrating the culture of poor people” or “preserving” poor people or making sure to admit the right percentages of people from economic strata into colleges–yet doing these things with “race” is OK. Affirmative action is a right-wing idea. The left as it is in America right now is useless because it follows this idea of anti-racism. Being anti-anti-racism (as he is) does not mean he is racist–rather he does not accept the


3) I can’t stand people who say “I am a ‘minority’ but I don’t need handouts, therefore why should anybody else? it’s insulting” because they’re missing the point. If you don’t need a handout, if you’re strong and intelligent, good for you, affirmative action wasn’t designed with you in mind anyway. What if someone else couldn’t be helped but to be born into a

4) Once Joan’s friend Ailed was over and the KQED documentary on Ailed had just come out and she had a tape and was sort of showing it, and I came home with some friends and happened to hear a voiceover during some scene which talked about how without the outreach program Ailed would never have been able to attend Berkeley because her SAT scores were below 800 and D. said really loudly, “if you score beneath 800 you’re too stupid to come to Berkeley anyway” without realizing Ailed was in the room (apparently, or not caring). Yes, but there are other ways of measuring a person’s worth, a person’s intelligence, a person’s capability of being a member of society that contributes something. She was not stupid, by any means–her SAT score was what it was because of her cultural/family/economic background, that whole tableaux, without an emphasis on obtaining higher degrees, without the money for SAT courses, whatever… I feel weird even trying to justify something that I see as so basic, it’s like trying to explain the color “yellow” to someone who I know to not be blind or colorblind. I give up

I sort of want to say more but I just don’t have the wherewithal to dredge it up from inside me and put it into words. I just want to be left alone to smash in Tauren faces with my hammer at will. Is that so hard for a girl to ask? But even in Warcraft, there are the same “arbitrariness of qualified people getting in over lesser-qualitifed people” kinds of arguments. Someone gets into a raiding guild that’s just getting off the ground, works for a month to get one piece of teir 1, their friend somehow gets into a more established, older guild where all the members are well-geared already and gets full 8/8 teir 1 in a week, the first person feels jealous and angry because the other person didn’t have to “work” for it. Someone played for a year but is less well-geared than someone else who just started playing two months ago. Person A beats person B in duels, but then person B gets into a raiding guild while person A somehow doesn’t, and person A thinks B has taken A’s “spot” since A has more “skill” than B. The “hidden skill,” outside the easily quantifiable rubric of “time played” and less easily quantifiable but still measurable rubric of “skill,” is social adeptness–this always gets overlooked. If you can cajole your way into a top-end raiding guild, even if you’re annoying to people who aren’t useful to you, even if you don’t have as much skill as someone else, then you have more social

For instance, at least two people who applied to LC (as LC was breaking up because people were demoralized at this shitty quality of our applicants) got into SaS (where the LC leaders went after the breakup; the others had gone to Dark Legacy) and my brother saw them running around with tons of epics. Why should a relative newcomer to the raiding scene have so many more epics than someone who’s been playing this game for so long? It’s because we’ve mismanaged our little group and just didn’t all get into a guild together or find someone that would take all of us,

unfinished, i might try to finish it later. no, i won’t… fuck it

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