Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Sy Stokes provides a spoken-word protest statement about the minimal presence of black students at UCLA, most of whom, men at least, are athletes. A recent article by Antonio Moore in the Huffington Post puts the protest in perspective, criticizing "individual merit," the rationale typically used to justify low minority enrollment at flag-ship universities like UCLA. As Moore concludes, this argument totally ignores the relevance of external resources such as cultural and social capital that commonly lie behind individual attainment:
"The problem with the merit based analysis is that merit is never truly individual; it is a composite of ability, effort, opportunity and in addition access that comes from family and community. Thus, when you do expensive computer camp at UCLA while in junior high school, live in a neighborhood of lawyers & doctors, have a grandfather that leaves a large inheritance or just have family that have relationships at the University, your personal achievement comes on the shoulders of those around you that support your success. I believe merit is very real, but the individuality of it not so much so. While we all sit down to take the test as a single person, some sit down with the unknown weight of a history of loss, while others are placed in position to as young Sy Stokes said, hit a "triple while born on third base"."