Interview with Luke Harris
QUESTION 13
JACKIE SHEARER:

You were talking about how, how Affirmative Action got instituted in the first place.

LUKE HARRIS:

Yeah, I mean, at a certain point, ah, it became clear to the universities that there were, that not withstanding the great strengths of their traditional admissions criteria, there were serious limits. Now, let's take a look at those limits. I mean, they've been much discussed, ah, but I think little understood over the years in, in this country. I mean a lot has been said about the, the so-called racial bias involved in these criteria, and that certainly exists. It has to do with the fact that there are certain segments of the American population that were kept separate and distinct and had a different range of opportunities than other Americans. There's also a cultural bias that's related to and a complement of the, ah, the problems indigenous to that. What's less talked about, which, which is of equal concern, not just to Black Americans and other people of color, but also Whites is the fact that there's a serious class bias with respect to those criteria. It's no accident that, ah, White kids in Beverly Hills, Shakers Heights, and Scarsdale do a helluva lot better than White kids in Appalachia, Cicero Chicago and South Boston. Affirmative Action now comes on the scene with respect to a range of criteria that are limited in all these ways and one other way that I think is extraordinarily important but is usually overlooked. The criteria, ah, the grades and the tests that are normally used are basically designed to do one thing and, ah, even the admissions officials admit that it does this one thing in, in a kind of limited way. The design is to try and determine what they call a predicted first year average, what a person's grade point average is going to be in the first year of college or law school or medical school. So, that's the context in which Affirmative Action comes on the scene. But what is the mission of Affirmative Action? Affirmative Action is concerned about things much more important than what a person's grade point average is going to be in the first year of college. It's concerned about, what are we going to do in America for the first time to make it possible so that over the term of a college and professional school career, people of color will be able to exercise, you know, their human capabilities and to participate and can contribute, ah, in all aspects of American life in ways that have never before been the case. So, what we find is, the range of progressive social programs that have a much more, ah, ah, utopian mission and underlay much more important core goals than the truncated vision that usually was a part of the application process, even in so far as White Americans are concerned. Ah. Can I stop there for a second?

JACKIE SHEARER:

I don't want to get into too much of this.