The problem with race preferences is broader than the inevitable fraud it encourages. What the left did not anticipate when it valorized identity politics for its favored groups was that, eventually, some in the majority would engage in the same kind of self-definition. When it seems that so many major institutions — universities, the news and entertainment media, big corporations — grant special status to some groups based on identity and not on disadvantage, the majority will be tempted to seize the same flag.
Also, the very idea of race as a placeholder for disadvantage, and particularly for historic wrongs, is problematic. In 2004, two black Harvard professors, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Lani Guinier, noted that among Harvard’s black graduates, the majority and perhaps as many as two-thirds, were not the descendants of American slaves, but instead were West Indian or African immigrants, the children of immigrants or the products of mixed-race couples.
Data from the Department of Education show that 59 percent of black college students are the children of college graduates. This is less than among whites (75 percent), but still raises the question: Are the black children of college graduates really in need of preferences?
There are many other pitfalls to racial preferences (lower graduation rates and higher student debt among blacks among them), but their most pernicious effect is to enhance, rather than minimize, the importance we attach to ethnic identity.
A 2017 poll found that 55 percent of white Americans believe they face discrimination, and some in the “alt-right” are chugging milk to demonstrate the supposed superiority of white people. Sometimes, people can only see how toxic race identity is when the race they fear adopts it.
Writes for Creators Syndicate