In 1996, conservatives managed to re-segregate California Universities. Heavily financed by conservative funding groups like the Koch brothers, conservatives were able to flood the airwaves with racist messaging to sway voter opinion. Using their most effective Uncle Tom, Ward Connerly as a front man, and threatening Asian students and parents with restrictions – conservatives were able to put a thin non-racist coat of paint on the New Jim Crow.
As a youngster growing up, may of my peers thought going to a UCLA, USC or Berkley would be a dream come true. These were the days before Affirmative Action, and the number of black folks on the campuses was actually larger than it is now. And that was back in the late 60’s, when the Southern School I went to only had a half dozen or so black males on a campus of about 10,000 who weren’t on sports scholarships.
California schools have joined the ranks of “Old Miss” and Alabama back in the days of legalized Jim Crow. How things have changed! The University of Mississippi’s demographics include a 16.85% black student population. The University of Alabama has 14.1% across it’s campuses. UC Davis has 2.3%, UC Berkley 2.7%, and UCLA has 3.3%…
The New Jim Crow…Indeed.
Now, one of the ways to fight back against this by the athletes could well be to go to other schools where the environment is more comfortable. Ergo, if one has 3 scholarship offers – you may want to consider Old Miss over UCLA. I imagine, if the Universities start losing the tens of millions of dollars they make from College Atletics, Bowl Games, and TV rights – they may rethink segregation. Worked at University of Alabama, where legendary Coach Bear Bryant showed the administrators at his school they couldn’t win recruiting players by race. Losing $30-40 million a year in revenue tends to bring folks to the table.
The black students at University of California, Los Angeles, sent a strong message about diversity at their school. Namely, the fact that there isn’t much when it comes to African-American males, a troubling fact for one of the state’s most elite institutions.
A group of students, led by Sy Stokes, posted a video voicing their concerns about the number of black students on campus, and their message is hard to ignore. Stokes, a third-year Afro-American studies student who identifies as black, Cherokee and Chinese, recites a spoken word poem in the video, citing blaring statistics about the university’s diversity issue.
According to the school’s enrollment statistics, African-Americans make up 3.8 percent of the student population. In the video, Stokes points out that black males make up 3.3 percent of the male student population, and that 65 percent of those black males are undergraduate athletes. Of the incoming men in the freshmen class, only 1.9 percent of them were black.
In an interview with the Daily Bruin, Stokes said he almost dropped out of UCLA during his first year because he felt isolated and uncomfortable. Although he eventually found his niche in the minority community, he said he wanted to raise awareness about the school’s lack of diversity before the university’s application deadline on Nov. 30.
“We had to do something to put our issues on the map,” Stokes said.
In an email statement to the school paper, Janina Montero, vice chancellor of student affairs, said administrators acknowledge the need for more diversity and are attempting to work within the state’s admission parameters.
“We certainly recognize that the low numbers of African Americans and other underrepresented students on campus does lead to a sense of isolation and invisibility,” Montero said in her email statement. “It is difficult to eliminate this painful imbalance without considering race in the admissions process.”
The state of California voted down affirmative action in 1996 and passed Proposition 209, which banned state schools from considering race, gender, ethnicity or national origins in their admissions processes. Black student enrollment has severely decreased since that provision and critics are saying that has to change.
The students’ video adds to the ongoing affirmative action debate both inside and outside of the state, raising awareness about diversity at institutions around the country. Stokes said he feels responsible for spreading the word about the unknown challenges of being a minority student at UCLA and the ongoing lack of diversity on campus.
“Being the cousin of Arthur Ashe, I feel as though it is my responsibility to uphold the strong voices of the Black Bruin community,” he said. This school has experienced unacceptable instances of injustice recently, and many people are not aware of what is happening at this university.”