Yes Mr. President, we do need tort reform. But, stop focusing on robbing medical malpractice victims of their well-deserved damage claims. Instead, shift your attention toward the frivolous lawsuits clogging up our judicial system such as the Center for Individual Rights and its recent “didn’t get in because we’re white” case.

Jasmine Clair

In an obvious waste of time, money and energy, the CIR has baited the University into yet another lawsuit. Seeking compensation for white University rejects, they are demanding the repayment of application fees for close to 30,000 white and Asian students denied admission into the College of Literature, Science and the Arts from 1995 to 2003. As though a “coloreds only” sign decors the University’s admissions office, these students were apparently the victims of “reverse discrimination” and denied admission because of their skin color — all 30,000 of them.

Longing for the day when the University’s affirmative action policies are effective enough to enroll 30,000 new students of color in an 8-year period, I actually wish that the CIR had justifiable grounds for arguing that the colored people took their client’s seats. For this would indicate great progress in the struggle for racial and socioeconomic equality. However, as I tread through this sea of whiteness here at the University, reality exposes how ridiculous this lawsuit really is. One cannot legitimately claim that he was denied admission because he was white when over two-thirds of an incoming class is of his same race.

Viewing opportunity as a zero-sum game, affirmative action opponents create the false notion that including more minorities in admissions jeopardizes admissions for the white majority. However, this resistance reveals how reluctant people are to relinquish white privilege. Not realizing that their own privilege stems from maintaining an unfair system that sends more blacks to jail than college, some prefer to cry discrimination, rather than accept efforts to equalize societal inequalities.

Ironically, the whole notion of “reverse discrimination” implies the co-existence of discrimination itself. But instead of defending the actual victims of discrimination, the CIR represents those upset by the fact that they have not been discriminated against. Claiming that it is unfair to punish whites for the racist practices of their ancestors, they fail to address the racism of today.

The CIR, along with other anti-affirmative action efforts such as Ward Connerly’s Michigan Civil Right’s Initiative, believes that it is unfair to exclude whites from the civil rights struggle. Even though it denies that pervasive racism against minority groups exists today, it quickly seizes opportunities to make sure that privileged whites are not excluded from discussions on eradicating the problem. As though the struggles of minorities is some sort of carnival ride, members of the white privileged class are excitedly lining up, anticipating the “thrills” of being oppressed.

Wanting to be both the oppressor and oppressed, they find a need to include themselves in the struggle for civil rights as well creatively inventing lavish tales of their “oppression.” Part of the CIR suit actually seeks damages for the rejected applicants, whom were “forced” to attend more expensive out-of-state and/or private institutions.

The real objection that people have to affirmative action spawns from the selfish individualist mind set that haunts America’s savage past. Too many believe the lie of hard work leading to prosperity or the infamous “American Dream.” Though many are rewarded for their efforts, many hard working others are exploited and forced to live their American Dream with the bear minimum. People hate being reminded of America’s bloody history, in particular slavery. But blacks provided the hard, rigorous labor that advanced America from a colony into an empire, yet received rags instead of riches. This is also the case today, where millions of workers perform grunt work daily to receive minimal wages for their “unskilled” labor.

Perhaps this is yet another reason for maintaining the barriers that prevent so many minorities from pursuing higher education. Knowledge empowers people, giving them the ability to think for themselves. More so it allows one to better understand the societal conditions in which we live. Therefore, the privileged are afraid of the results of a fair educational system because it will teach the poor and the colored people about the racist and classist system that is inherently designed to keep power and wealth concentrated within the hands of the few. Through education people learn to reject the false notion that racism ended with the civil rights movement of the 60’s. With affirmative action policies, more minorities have access to education, knowledge and power. And this is why some are doing whatever it takes to destroy such policies.

Thankfully, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is approaching. Hopefully this will remind us all that the struggle for equality is far from over and incite us to action. The University’s affirmative action program must be upheld.


Clair can be reached at jclair@umich.edu.

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