The Great Mismatch

Important insight from Tressie McMillan-Cottom about how a focus on individual performance obscures institutional exclusion. This is also one of the backbones of critical race theory that calls into question how principles of equality (one person, one vote, one voice) swing to aggregrate power.

“Can you design an integrated social, economic, cultural, and institutional system of privilege that delimits access to colleges and universities as a normal course of business and be not-for-profit, state-supported, and culturally legitimate? Because that’s what U.S. higher education did and what it continues to do. Whether black or hispanic students do not like the culture, drop out, transfer, get an F in freshman comp is not the issue. The issue is not individual performance but institutional exclusion.”


The painful truth about hand-wringing over whether Affirmative Action “harms” racial minorities is that no one cares if Affirmative Action harms racial minorities. The faux concern for the well-being of poor put-upon non-white students who are promoted beyond their ability never extends to concern for the many more white students who are surely promoted beyond theirs. At the same time we have debates about whether any student learns anything in college anymore (see: Academically Adrift), we also debate if there is too much learning happening for poor non-white students. And we care about that only as it is politically convenient to defend the legacy preferences, white preferences, athlete preferences and donor preferences at colleges and universities. With friends like this, as the saying goes, non-white students don’t need enemies.

This is liberal concern-trolling of the type, tenor and intensity that makes social media trolling seem quaint by comparison. The…

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