December 3, 2010
Society also tends to "heal" itself--this belief is the foundation of capitalism and democracy. Bad policies in place? The electorate will throw the bums out. Bad economy? Investors will buy low, and the economy will grow again. Generally, I think we can see over time that this is, at least at a superficial level, true.
But suppose you got a huge gash on your leg, long and deep. Without at least some first aid and maybe stitches, the wound will not heal itself. You may even bleed to death.
Does society suffer the same kinds of wounds? Are there gashes so deep and big that they can't possibly be healed by society's natural ability to adjust?
Yes, there are.
In 1998, California voters made Affirmative Action illegal for the University of California. Since then, UC Berkeley has gotten far less diverse. The university's freshman class is only 3.4% black and about 12% Hispanic. There are nearly ten whites for every African-American. There are 13 Asians for every African-American.
In a state (California) where there is no racial majority (every ethnicity is less than 50% of the population), this is a tragedy. While I hope that one day we will achieve a "colorblind society," which was the chief selling point of Prop 209, today we have a huge wound in our society that needs emergency help. This is one rift that is not going to heal itself. Eliminating Affirmative Action in the hope that it will create a colorblind society is much like eliminating medical care in the hope that it will create a disease-free world. It is backwards and destructive.
If UC Berkeley had been this racially lopsided when I went there in the 80s, I would have gotten a much less valuable education. This is a real shame.