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Eloquence and arrogance

12/18/2015, 6:59 a.m.
On the same day that President Obama gave a stirring and historically grounded commemoration regarding the 150th anniversary of the ...
Julianne Malveaux

But they are grown people, used to a setback (who isn’t?) and prepared to move on with their lives. They know they weren’t in the top 10 percent, and they are happy if they made the second cut at UT or are content to go to another school and excel. Not Ms. Fisher. Buttressed by the dollars that come from affirmative action opponents, she is willing to be the poster girl for inadequacy.

From his remarks from the Supreme Court bench, Justice Scalia is willing to consider her point and exhibit his own racism. What does he mean by “lesser schools?” Is he familiar with the data on African-American accomplishment?  Does he share the same hubris that Ms. Fisher does, asserting that a deficient white student deserves an edge over a well-prepared black one?

Justice Scalia needs to look at the data before running his mouth. Both African-American and white students go to schools that are less highly rated than the University of Texas —lesser schools, really. Most of them succeed. They would have succeeded at UT, too. Regardless of race, they accept the fact that, not in the top 10 percent of their class, they were not entitled to admission. After that, their admission was a roll of the dice.

While President Obama talked about freedom, invoking the history that made the 13th Amendment important, reminding us of “the preachers, black and white, (who) railed against this moral outrage from the pulpit.”

Where are the preachers today? They know that there are racial economic gaps, but they are silent. They know that there is a structural racism that perpetuates unfairness, but they are unwilling to fight against it. They will offer preaching, perhaps tepid, perhaps rousing. But they won’t step up and attack the systems that produce disparate economic results. They won’t condemn attacks on affirmative action.

How could Justice Scalia respond to President Obama’s eloquence with his white-privileged arrogance? If there is a poster girl for fairness, she isn’t Abigail Fisher. To lift her up is to embrace the arrogance of white skin privilege. To lift her up is a disgraceful rebuff to the Texas students who achieve against all odds. To denigrate the student who were admitted instead of Ms. Fisher is a laughable attempt by a so-called justice to justify his injustice, and it flies in the face of the remarks our president made when he spoke of the 13th Amendment.

The writer is an author and economist based in Washington.