, 14 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
Ooh baby let’s break some of this down. What affirmative action and diversity & inclusion programs (flawed as some were/are) reveal is the lie of American #meritocracy & #bootstrapism.
Affirmative action & diversity programs have repeatedly sought out women, people of color & increasingly queer & disabled people for opportunities for which they are qualified. These programs consider experiences of oppression an important perspective these folks bring.
Further, when these programs occur in early education settings smart, creative & otherwise talented marginalized kids get to have their interests & skills nurtured in ways their families may not be able to provide either financially or bc of lack of awareness of such programs.
I was a precocious bookish talkative black girl raised by a white single mother among white ppl. I was repeatedly given free or discounted leadership & skill development opportunities bc I’m black & bc I’m smart & bc my mom couldn’t afford the programs otherwise.
In high school I refused to apply to any non-merit based scholarships to college bc I was tired of people saying I only got things because I was black.
I got a full ride to @miamiuniversity as a Harrison Scholar & was still harassed by a white man in my freshman dorm who claimed the scholarship was unfairly provided to majority POCs. He went so far as to poll ppl in the Honors dorm on our HS ranks, GPA & SAT scores to prove it.
Please note he gave up when he found that the POC Harrison scholars consistently has scores & ranks higher than his. I politely informed him I turned down an offer to Yale to go to Miami. I didn’t tell him it’s bc I couldn’t afford Yale even with the financial aid they offered.
I heard the same things in grad school. I heard the same things when I got my first job while ABD. I’ll never stop hearing that I have achieved things bc of my race in a country that hates & kills people of my race on a daily basis. No one is just giving black folks anything.
Merit is a lie. All children are born with various skills & abilities. Some children are born to families with the cultural/educational knowledge & financial ability to foster their talents. Some children receive access to programs that do this. Many children get neither.
Those children are placed on a different path so early that merit means nothing when they were never given the chance to grow their skills & achieve. I was lucky, in part bc of my proximity to whiteness via my mother. I benefitted from her white privilege AND diversity programs.
At this point in my career no one can deny my merit. My CV is excellent. But I did not get here on talent alone & there are thousands of equally talented POCs who never got the opportunities I did to be safe & supported (financially & emotionally via mentoring) in my studies.
This isn’t about merit, it’s about a world that distributes opportunities & support inequitably from birth & then blames folks for not being on par w/ peers who had no more talent/intellect, just more money, privilege & opportunity. A few exceptional stories doesn’t negate that.
For folks who are interested, @ProfessorCrunk writes about this really compellingly in her book #EloquentRage. Her thoughts there inform some of mine here as our experiences were similar in many ways. (I recommend the ebook if you’re into that sort of thing bc it’s her voice)
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