University of Michigan Law Journal: Preserving a Racial Hierarchy:

Preserving a Racial Hierarchy: A Legal Analysis of the Disparate RacialImpact of Legacy Preferences in University Admissions. [108 Michigan Law Review 577 (2010)] Katherine Ladewski

This is a note in the University of Michigan’s Law Journal. I would like to link this back to a previous post which discussed an article in the Stanford Journal concerning blacks receiving preferential treatment. It’s 2010 and one still has to make academic arguments that this isn’t the case. The article’s topic demonstrates another form of excluding Black Americans from IVY League institutions. Just by looking at this title, isn’t this just another form of discrimination against blacks? It’s when I read articles like this I am truly baffled as to why blacks are blamed when a white person isn’t admitted to an IVY League, especially when you likely had generations of head start in economic, social and educational arenas. Oh because blacks and poor people are the root of America’s problems [sarcasm definitely intended]. Anyway, here we go.

The article first discusses how universities originated legacy admissions to exclude Jews who were recent immigrants. First thought, replace one unpopular group with another, Blacks, who are ironically more indigineous to this country then the former. This article touches on the notion (which some of the other blogs have mentioned) that younger generations of Americans sought education, owning a home to achieve the American Dream as part of upward mobility. However, legacy admissions have a disparate impact on Black Americans and other minorities. One of the articles I list on this blog points out that during the most recent economic recession Black Americans were affected the most and the attempt to obtain future employment is marred by the lack of connections that educated Blacks have in different arenas, so multiply this by a graduate or professional education where the door is tougher to wedge through and it should not be surprising how difficult it is for Blacks to navigate through the employment sector. The same lack of connections may be applied to the precursor for professional employment, that of a quality, top tier education.  Historically, with rare exception some (the “black” heirs of their mother’s -wealthy paramour-usually by rape and the ability to “pass” or be light-skinned enough) were granted elite mentorship into private schools. Although to note most mixed children were house servants of their slavemasters.

The article further argues that legacy admissions increases the prospects of alumni donations and fundraising, provide better employment opportunities for legacy graduates as previous generation of alumni (parents and the inner circle) will hire someone who graduated from the same law school as they. Thus, as whites are more likely to have legacy admission, legacy employment, blacks and other minorities are likely to be left outside of the cold of such education and employment prospects. Sounds like common sense, but not for those people who continue to claim “We’re losing everything to blacks.” I remember Chris Rock was espousing this sentiment and his response was “losing it to who…it ain’t us, I’ve looked around this [here]” [he used an expletive]* And yes he did this particular show in Washington, D.C.

However, the author states “Because the negative impact of legacy preferences on minority applicants is based on past patterns of attendance at American universities and the underrepresentation of such racial groups over that period, the negative impact of legacy preferences on racial minorities should decrease over time if the student bodies at American universities continue to diversify.”

Which is non-sensical based on her prior premise that the legacy admissions were historically racist and continue the same modis operandi which benefits whites and are to the detriment to Blacks. Perhaps she meant it as a recommendation. Though I doubt these universities have any incentives to change their methodology as they were doing this for decades with Federal funding and no consistent objection by the government.  Even if you were to take the current blacks who made it to IVY League law schools and BIGLaw, it is a known fact that in this recession that Blacks were likely to be let go first, thus affecting their standard of living, income, influence for fundraising and donations to their alumn. What’s interesting as some blogs have noted about education in general being promoted as a source of upward mobility, but taking this particular sub-section of legacy admissions, there is little or no chance for Blacks to even create future generations based on legacy and IVY League education.

Anyway, the author goes into further details and statistics on disparate impact of legacy admissions, rate of donations and fundraising and the lack of correlation between continuing legacy admissions the way they currently stand and the latter two factors. “A post-legacy residual of zero would indicate that eliminating legacy preferences had no effect on university fundraising outcomes.” [589]

Full text of the article can be found: http://www.michiganlawreview.org/assets/pdfs/108/4/ladewski.pdf

Just imagine the chances for upward mobility for a Black American who not only didn’t attend IVY League but a non-top tier school. One shouldn’t wonder why voices of dissent espouse the reality of systemic discrimination.

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3 Comments »

  1. […] ”The low level of Black representation in the profession may discourage promising Black students from considering law and limit Black lawyers’ chances to find mentors and role models within the law. And, to the extent that Black lawyers are more likely than others to be concerned with racial justice, discrimination, community development, and the like, the dearth of Black lawyers contributes to an already unequal access to lawyers in the United States.” Yes, discourage them, save them from a lifetime of Sallie Mae harassments, unemployment, the grits, the taunting, the presumptive “you’re here because of affirmative action.” How many decades have passed before you realized the false hope of upward mobility via law school. [See Life’s Mockery’s post for comments on legacy admissions, minorities, and chances for upward mobility: [University of Michigan Law Journal: Preserving a Racial Hierarchy: « Life's Mockery] […]

  2. Nando Said:

    I mentioned before that I talked to Prof. Randall Kennedy of Harvard. He let me know that he thought that less minorities going to law school was a national travesty. The reality is that even those blacks and minorities who are gifted enough – or connected – to land Biglaw, will also be the first to be let go.

    Overall, the legal market is shrinking fast! Right now is a terrible time to go to law school – this is ESPECIALLY the case if you are a minority or if you are from a working-class background.

    People are graduating with MUCH higher student loan debt loads AND facing a rapidly receding American legal market. Even when things get better, American law firms and corporations will say to themselves, “Why hire a bunch of lawyers when we were able to make it by on a skeleton crew? We can keep our staff trim and really rake in the profits!!”

    • A Law School Victim Said:

      Yes, I remember, though I’m not familiar with his body of work, moreso Professor Charles Ogletree. It’s pretty much over, elite will stay elite, everyone else will be carrying the country on their backs as usual.


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