Interview with Luke Harris
QUESTION 18
JACKIE SHEARER:

Okay, so you were talking about how Blacks have been stigmatized.

LUKE HARRIS:

Yeah, well, the reality is that, ah, before we were stigmatized because we were excluded and now we're stigmatized because we are included. I think what we see really is a simple transformation of the type of stigma that people of color face in contemporary America. And, ah, that may be true but that stigma comes not from Affirmative Action programs, I would argue that it comes from societal racism writ large and institutional racism in particular. I mean let's look at the experiences of Black Americans over the whole of this century. W.E.B. DuBois was a great social scientist, a brilliant student at Harvard, a brilliant student at the University of Berlin, that did not translate into jobs in White universities for him when he returned from Europe. Ah, Paul Robeson was one of the greatest renaissance men that this country has ever produced. That, that did not transfer into him, once he graduated valedictorian from Rutgers and, ah, once he had been an excellent law student at Columbia into a legal profession that was open to him. Martin Luther King went to school in the post World War II era, when he got his Ph.D. in theology in Boston, that did not translate for him, into an open in American Society. So my argument is that, ah, the idea that there is some reality to this stigma, that is inherent to Affirmative Action apart from the culture of racism that exists in this society is an illusion to begin with. But let's look at this issue a little bit more deeply with respect to stigma. I mean how is it that the one program in this country that for once, ah, in American history, created a situation where the individual capabilities of people of color would be allowed to flourish and subsequent equal opportunity would at least, in a piecemeal fashion, become a reality with respect to open participation of people of color throughout all dimensions of American life, how is it that the one generation in America for whom, ah, this society is supposed to be open, finds itself stigmatized when, if you look at the experience of White Americans, generation after generation after generation over centuries of White Americans participated in rigged competitions in the academia and in the work place. Rigged simply because the human promise of people of color was either crushed and or, or seriously repressed. And how is it that they never have been stigmatized and we are stigmatized by this range of programs that in fact only allow for us to participate in some halfway egalitarian, uh, fashion in the type of America that we live in the latter part of the 20th century. I want to stop this for a second.


LUKE HARRIS:

Am I, ah, still talking too fast?

JACKIE SHEARER:

A tad.