Center for Equal Opportunity

The nation’s only conservative think tank devoted to issues of race and ethnicity.


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Affirmative Action

The High Costs (and Negligible Benefits) of Political Correctness

First news item from last week: “The Justice Department today announced it has reached an agreement with officials of the Colorado Judicial Department to ensure that limited English proficient (LEP) individuals seeking services throughout Colorado’s state court system will have access to timely and competent language assistance,” according to the Civil Rights Division’s press release here .


Back to the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court may have an opportunity to do some good soon in the fight against preferential treatment based on race and ethnicity. That’s because last Friday the petition for rehearing en banc (that is, asking the full court of appeals to rehear the case after a panel decision) was denied in Fisher v. University of Texas.


The George W. Bush Administration: A Retrospective

Unfinished Business: The Bush Administration and Racial Preferences

Download this file (George W Bush Retrospective 2009.pdf)George W Bush Retrospective 2009.pdf[ ]2162 Kb

New and Un-Improved Justification for Affirmative Action

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently had a piece by Professor Elizabeth Anderson titled “Affirmative Action Is about Helping All of Us,” in which she laments “the same tired arguments on the left” that are being used to defend affirmative action in higher education, and then proposes her own new and (supposedly) improved theory to be used in defending such discrimination from those attacks by “the right that reflect ignorance of the realities of race in America.”


Destroying Records to Hide Race Discrimination

Stanford and Yale are destroying student records that would likely open them to charges of illegal racial discrimination.  See this news story in the Chronicle of Higher Education. 

This ought to be a very big deal. And note this:  “Students for Fair Admissions, an advocacy group that has filed lawsuits challenging the race-conscious admissions policies of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on Thursday sent Yale and several other Ivy League institutions letters warning that they put themselves at legal risk if they destroy such records.”

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Maryland’s medical marijuana commission will be required by statute to “seek to achieve racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity when licensing medical marijuana growers,” to encourage “applicants who qualify as a minority business enterprise,” and to “seek to achieve racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity when licensing dispensaries.”

Now, the usual justification for race-based decision-making is remedying past discrimination in a particular industry or agency, but it’s hard to see how that would apply here, since the marijuana business — at least, the legal marijuana business — is quite new in Maryland. So it must be that pot grown and dispensed by African Americans is somehow different from that grown and dispensed by white Marylanders. Who knew?

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Well, so much for sports uniting us:  The Washington Post reports, “ESPN 980 began developing a morning program built around [Jason] Reid and Chris Paul . . . The idea: a local sports-talk show hosted by two white personalities and aimed at white men . . . ”  

Just kidding!  Of course, the show was to be hosted by “two African American personalities” and was to be “aimed at African American men.”  That’s fine, whereas the former would have been illegal and racist.

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John McWhorter casts a skeptical eye here on the “white privilege” fad, and rightly so.

My take: It is, for starters, a divisive phrase, much more likely to hurt race relations than help them, as it lumps together all white people – many of whom cannot be considered “privileged” by any reasonable standard – and points an accusatory finger at them, asserting, “You don’t deserve what you have.” It is, at bottom, just another way of complaining about stereotyping, even though all racial groups – indeed, all groups, period – face stereotyping, some negative and some positive, and there’s nothing new or remarkable about it. It overstates the extent to which stereotyping occurs and the consequences it has. And, finally, playing this particular race card suggests that racial disparities — and, indeed, racial stereotyping — are due solely to racism simpliciter, and have nothing to do with culture and, in particular, cultural dysfunctions.

It is, in other words, the “conversation on race” that we have come to expect from the left: All whites must accept blame for all disparities of any kind, and any suggestion that some nonwhites have failed to act responsibly is blaming the victim.

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Finally, the Federalist Society recently posted an interesting podcast, involving the 2008 financial crisis. The conventional narrative is that this crisis was caused by Wall Street’s actions and insufficient regulation of the financial system. But a competing narrative is that, in fact, the crisis was caused not by bad actors on Wall Street, but by government housing policies. In the podcast, Peter Wallison marshals evidence in support of this view, which is also the thesis of his recently-released book, Hidden in Plain Sight: What Really Caused the World’s Worst Financial Crisis and Why It Could Happen Again.

And what does all this have to do with the Center for Equal Opportunity?  Well, those “government housing policies” were largely race-driven — that is, the feds brought pressure to bear on lenders to “get their numbers right” and make more loans to certain people because of their skin color or national origin.  You can read the related testimony I gave to Congress here in the wake of the crisis. 

During the podcast, you can hear me read in this part of that testimony, to get Mr. Wallison’s reaction:

By the way, if there was an uptick in subprime lending in the recent past, it may have come about because lenders were being pressured by government and quasigovernment agencies to make more loans to individuals with marginal creditworthiness. The response of the lenders might have been, “Fine, but if we have to make these loans, we will have to charge higher interest rates to make them economically feasible.” Thus, the same people who are lamenting “predatory lending” may have caused it by pushing for more loans to members of this or that racial, ethnic, or income group.

Mr. Wallison agreed.  Another bad government policy, driven by race, with disastrous consequences.  Here’s how I concluded my testimony:

It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that the last thing the government should do is encourage lenders to worry about anything other than creditworthiness in making loans. …. Ramping up the use of disparate-impact civil-rights enforcement, and any other kind of pressure on lenders to make sure that they get their racial and ethnic numbers right, is a bad idea.  … [O]ur fair housing laws should and do make it illegal for lenders to treat people differently on the basis of race or ethnicity, and that is how they should be enforced. As a matter of law, legal policy, and economics, those laws should not be used to coerce lenders into arriving at politically correct statistical results.

Affirmative Action Watch

Your Anti-Discrimination Hotline

In most instances, the use of preferences on the basis of race or ethnicity in education, employment, or government contracting violates federal law. This is true even in cases of "affirmative action" and "diversity" programs.

The Center for Equal Opportunity is interested in hearing about such discrimination. In many instances, we may be able to do something about it. This is especially true when the discrimination is openly stated--as is often the case, believe it or not. CEO will not serve as your attorney, but in many cases we will contact the alleged discriminator, and in other cases we may be able to help you find a lawyer.

Please reference the adjacent program types and fill the form linked to below to tell CEO about discrimination that you have witnessed.

Type A Programs

Select this if the discrimination you have witnessed is advertised or described as being open only to some racial or ethnic groups, or where it is advertised that members of certain racial or ethnic groups are preferred.

  • Minority job fairs
  • Minority-only or nonminority-only scholarships or financial aid
  • Minority-only summer programs or internships
  • Private or government (municipal, state, or federal) contract set-asides
  • On-the-job training or mentoring programs open only to members of certain racial or ethnic groups.


Select this if the discrimination you have witnessed comes about because of a desire to reach a predetermined racial or ethnic quota or goal. Describe the statement or announcement of the quota or goal, and a brief description of the discrimination that resulted from it.


Select this if the discrimination you have witnessed involves racial preferences or quotas that you can describe but cannot be documented by a paper trail. Describe as specifically as possible the use of racial preferences or quotas that you have witnessed.


CEO Releases New Studies Documenting Racial and Ethnic Preferences in U of A and ASU Admissions

The study is based on data supplied by the universities themselves. The study was prepared by Dr. Althea Nagai, a resident fellow at CEO, and can be viewed on the organization’s website, . The executive summaries of the studies are attached.

CEO chairman Linda Chavez said: “Racial discrimination in university admissions is always appalling. But the degree of discrimination we have found here, at both schools but especially at Arizona State, is off the charts.” She noted that the odds ratio favoring African Americans over whites was 250 to 1 at the University of Arizona and 1115 to 1 at Arizona State. “As a result, nearly a thousand white students during the years we studied were denied admission even though they had higher undergraduate GPAs and LSATs than the average African American student who was admitted--and over a hundred Asian and Latino students were in the same boat with them.”

CEO president Roger Clegg agreed, and stressed that, not only was race weighed, but it was weighed much more heavily that residency status. “For instance, a white Arizonan in 2007 was about eight times less likely to be admitted to the University of Arizona than a black out-of-state applicant, and at Arizona State he would be twelve times less likely to be admitted.”

CEO also analyzed undergraduate and medical school admissions at the University of Arizona, but found less statistical evidence of discrimination there, based on the data provided by the university pursuant to an information request filed by CEO and the Arizona Association of Scholars (AAS also joined CEO in its request for data from the University of Arizona law school). 

Arizona State University

 College of Law

University of Arizona

 College of Law


The Center for Equal Opportunity is a nonprofit research and educational organization that studies issues related to civil rights, bilingual education, and immigration and assimilation nationwide.

“Diversity” and Other Euphemisms

Last week, the Los Angeles Times ran an op-ed complaining that the word “diversity” is a euphemism, since its proponents really want nothing more than nondiscrimination.  My published rejoinder to this dubious claim:

I wish it were true that those asking for “diversity” were asking only for nondiscrimination, as Noah Berlatsky writes. But in many contexts the opposite is true: The last thing they want is nondiscrimination, and what they are asking for is precisely discrimination, albeit of the politically correct sort. (“'Diversity' is a euphemism. We should be careful how we use it,” Opinion, July 10)

Thus, when universities try to increase “diversity,” they do so through the use of preferential treatment; in general, it discriminates not only against whites but also against Asian Americans. The same is true in the employment and contracting context, although the victims sometimes change. What stays the same is that what’s wanted is not to ignore skin color or national origin or gender, but to weigh it in the decision-making.

I agree that the term “diversity” is a euphemism, but much of the time it cloaks politically correct discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity and sex. Such preferential treatment is wrong, and it should stop.

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I might have added that, if all the proponents of “diversity” wanted was nondiscrimination, they would not have needed to come up with a new word for their program.  In fact, it’s precisely because they not want nondiscrimination that they needed to come up with some new phrase.

And this this is not the first time that the Left has come up with a euphemism for politically correct discrimination.  Here’s a piece I wrote ten years ago on this theme, on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day:

Are You “Overrepresented”?

Today we celebrate the birthday of the man who spoke movingly of his dream that one day his children would be judged not by the content of their character, but by whether they were underrepresented or not.

No, wait, I must have been having a bad dream. Let me explain.

Last March, my eye was caught by a story in which a Yale official bragged about how his school is doing great things when it comes to improving the numbers of “underrepresented minorities” there. In April, the James Irvine Foundation issued a report, “The Revolving Door for Underrepresented Minority Faculty in Higher Education,” lamenting the high turnover rate for these “URM” teachers. In May, an article in UMass Magazine talked about the efforts there “to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines.” In June, Duke noted that a research fellows program it runs, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “specifically targets women and underrepresented minorities.” In July, a camp for high-school students was held at the University of Texas’s Arlington School of Nursing; it was “made possible by a … grant that aims to recruit traditionally underrepresented minorities into nursing education.” In August, I received an e-mail from my alma mater, Rice University, about a high-school program it has designed “to convince underrepresented minority students that math isn’t something to be feared or avoided.” And finally, in September and just in time for the beginning of the current academic year, we were back to Yale, with a story that alludes to a separate fund that it maintains just for hiring women and “underrepresented minorities.”

But those are just a few examples: The phrase “underrepresented minority” is everywhere. And this is a good day to talk about it.

You have to hand it to the Left when it comes to rhetorical subterfuge in the service of racial discrimination. Its facility with words puts one in mind of Animal Farm’s pig Squealer, another clever defender of the indefensible.

Using the phrase “affirmative action” — which originally meant taking positive steps, proactive measures (just what it sounds like it ought to mean, right?) — to cloak affirmative discrimination (Nathan Glazer’s apter phrase) was sly. Even more resourceful was turning the innocent word “diversity” into a synonym for “Let’s put a ceiling on the number of whites (and, usually, Asians),” as documented by Peter Wood in his wonderful book, Diversity: The Invention of a Concept. But insufficient credit has been given to an equally ingenious and now ubiquitous term: “underrepresented minority.”

As with “affirmative action” and “diversity,” much of the genius lies in the fact that it seems so hard to be in the opposition. Thus, whatever the opposite of “affirmative action” is — “passive inaction”? “negative action”? — who could favor it? And, likewise with respect to “diversity,” who in a multiethnic society could favor — let alone fight for — “monochromism,” or even “homogeneity” or “uniformity”?

Similarly, who can want minorities to be “underrepresented”? Deep in our republican — small “r” — psyches is a sympathy with and commitment to representation. How can it be fair, therefore, that any group be underrepresented?
And it’s not just that the opposites seem so untenable, but that being supportive seems so, well, correct. Doesn’t taking affirmative action sound like the bold, energetic, right thing to do? Isn’t diversity smart, like when you’re putting together an investment portfolio? And representation — why, our country is built on that, after all!

Well, perhaps the rebuttal starts with the observation that, if it is bad for groups to be underrepresented, it must follow as night follows day that it is bad as well for groups to be overrepresented. This is not just the opposite side of the same coin: It is the same side of the same coin.

So, you know, we must not judge too harshly those WASPs who, back in the day, took steps to ensure that those overachieving, overrepresented Jews did not take over the Ivy League, right? And there really wasn’t anything wrong with Bill Clinton’s ominous 1995 warning that “there are universities that could fill their entire freshman classes nothing but Asian-Americans,” was there?

Squirming yet? But obviously that’s what the adjective “underrepresented” is there for: to make sure that some minorities, the overrepresented ones, get discriminated against just like the WASP kids.

The fact is that, in this country at least, we do not “represent” a color. We represent only our individual selves. There is no reason that our qualifications should be judged differently just because more or fewer of those already chosen happen to share or not share our particular melanin content.

One can almost have some sympathy with the Left. It must constantly dream up and promulgate new euphemisms since sooner or later the old ones always wear gossamer thin and it becomes all too easy to see what it is trying to cover up.

You can call it “affirmative action” or you can celebrate “diversity” or you can set goals for “underrepresented minorities,” but when you consider a person’s skin color in deciding whether to award her an admissions slot, or a contract, or a job — then you are engaging in racial discrimination.

It’s spinach, and to hell with it.