Monday, August 30, 2010

Response to Linda's Message

Linda's sermon yesterday focussed on difference. She was responding to questions like: Why did God make us different? Does God make mistakes in the creation? In so doing, she made an observation that I think is very important for those from the dominant culture. It is often difficult to recognize the privileges enjoys as a member of the in crowd. Such privileges can easily become transparent.

I'm a MAWG--Middle Aged White Guy--who has heard many other MAWGs complain that they never received any advantages. These men were being sincere. They just assumed that all law students had professors encourage their progress and admire their past acheivements. They just assumed that everyone enjoyed tax breaks for the family they chose to raise, and that the law ascribed a default inherentance policy that matched their desires. They assumed that everyone was trusted not to steal something while shopping, that everyone's contributions to society were lauded, and that everyone was welcomed as a valued potential member when they showed interest in joining a group.

MAWGs can be so oblivious to their privilege, that when efforts are made to address a social injustice caused by repeated exercise of their privilege, there will be "backlash" against it. The greatest example is affirmative action. MAWGs who enjoy tremendous over representation in almost every high paying position first fail to suspect there is anything fishy about the demographic imbalance, and second, quickly lose patience with any effort to address it.

Affirmative Action, sometimes recast as "preferential treatment or discrimination," includes efforts to recruit diverse students or employees, it includes accounting for a candidates background in recruiting, it can include everything that falls under the much more popular phrase Equal Opportunity.

Read the text of Proposition 107, link here, very carefully. Feel free to discuss it with your friends.


  1. If I read the Arizona Proposition 107 correctly and if I understand your comments, it seems to me that Arizona could be on the road to banning any form of Affirmative Action consideration. I feel that would be a sorry state of affairs and rule out efforts to insure diversity in programs and eliminate the possibility of seeking unity and equality for all. Don't think I could support or would support such backward thinking! IUGuy

  2. Thanks for this post, Jim. Valuable insight. Frankly, most of us need help interpreting proposed legislation. Most of us, opposed in general to preferential treatment and discrimination, could easily misunderstand the potential impact of Prop 107, and accidentally support something we would never intentionally vote for.