The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Lecturer denounces terms “social justice,” “inclusion”: Shelby Steele says liberalism deprives minorities of “personal responsibility”

Shelby Steele spoke at the college about the effects and possible end of racism in America (Photo Courtesy of Shelby Steele Public Facebook Page).
Shelby Steele spoke at the college about the effects and possible end of racism in America (Photo Courtesy of Shelby Steele Public Facebook Page).

A senior fellow who specializes in topics such as race relations at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, Shelby Steele grew up in an era of segregation in the 1950s and 1960s in the south side of Chicago. He lived across the street from white families all his life, but neither they nor his interracial family ever dared cross to the other side. After the civil rights movement of the 1960s, when black people were finally given the right to vote, Steele said it then came time for black people to finally be “left alone,” unaffected by racism and unburdened by the oppressiveness of liberalism.

“Real racism has become such a small problem,” he said in a talk at the college on Tuesday. Steele added that the left, dominated by whites, craves the moral authority lost after the 1960s. After that period, white America “fell” from having any moral high-ground after being held accountable for the centuries of horrid oppression of black people by slavery, racism and segregation.

“I say to whites: stop making the mistake of believing in all these stupid idealisms,” such as inclusion, multiculturalism and social justice, he said. These idealisms have only tried to bring legitimacy back to “white America” and “white institutions,” he added. “Liberalism came up with these ideas because America was fallen, and America needed moral authority to work.”

Dean of Equity and Inclusion Chris Hunt wrote in an email that the effects of America’s history of racism are present in today’s world and can’t be ignored.

“In my experience, the notion that we do not live in a racialized society just isn’t an idea that is based on reality and does not account for our history as a nation,” he wrote. “That history should not define us, but we cannot neglect its impact in our daily lives.”

Steele professed his opposition to affirmative action and other social programs put in place by the government to counteract discriminatory effects of institutional and systemic racism. He said that these programs strip away from minorities their personal responsibility for their own success.

“I hate affirmative action with every fiber of my being, because racial preferences stigmatize black people as inferior,” and then ask them to perform well after admitting students only “because of their pigmentation,” Steele said in an interview.

Jovante Anderson ’19 attended Steele’s talk and acknowledged that Steele’s critique of liberalism is founded, because it does continue to oppress blacks. However, Steele’s argument fell short for Anderson by failing to address that society contains racial, class-related and other structural “imbalances.”

“I think where [Steele] goes wrong is falling back to very historical solutions, this idea that ‘I can pull myself up by my bootstraps and I will be okay.’ I think that is where his argument really falls apart,” Anderson said.

Despite having good grades, “I didn’t have the money to come [to Lafayette]. No amount of pulling up myself by the bootstraps would have gotten me here. So I think he misses that…there are structural imbalances that no matter how much I hold myself accountable as a person, if those things are not addressed, then there is no moving forward from that,” he added.

Steele said that the gap between blacks and whites in college dropout rates demonstrate that social programs such as affirmative action in college admissions supposedly benefitting black people actually put them at a disadvantage to succeed. The U.S. News and World Report reported in 2016 that as of 2013, 46.8% of black students at four-year public universities graduated while 64.7% of whites did.

“America cannot live up to its promises to minorities until we are treated exactly the same as everybody else,” Steele said.

President Alison Byerly said that race is among a variety of attributes the college takes into account in the admissions process.

“It’s important to represent a variety of groups that are underrepresented,” she said. “I think that opponents of affirmative action, among other things, don’t understand that the college admissions process always takes into account lots of factors, of which race is one. The field that you’re studying is one. Your relationship to the college and whether your parents were alums is also one that gets taken into account.”

“Opposition to affirmative action is typically not a well-informed view of how higher education admissions actually works,” she added.

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  • T

    TerrySep 10, 2018 at 11:32 am

    I agree with Shelby because Anderson assumes all white are privledged and rich. All you have to do is look around of all the people living from pay check to pay check to see that’s not true anda excuse. Also there is no minority status for whites to get grants simply because there not white. If white get any grants it’s something they have to work for, unlike minority status or affirmative action that does the same. Whiles also don’t have all black schools because if they had schools for only poor whites they would be called racist. There is a double standard.
    I was a white activist in the 60s 70s and got in the congressional records that saved manpower in the early 70s. Then bill boards came about all over whit a white hand and black saying they aren’t looking for a hand out there looking for a hand. That wax a quote in my petition that congress read. Has something changed to some politician can get votes that will not help the voters? As it goes after the trade schools got another 5 year extension that also helped VN veterans the hyspanic community stater complaining it was only helping blacks. Like Able Linclon said you can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time, no it wasn’t BUT it was meant for poor, veterans ALL people who were “American citizens. ”
    If you want to blame anything blame the costs. After student loans the prices kept going up and up. Greed, and the teachers get paid whether you learn or not. That’s why you have people with degrees who know little to nothing these days.
    The other thing is learning the value of education. If parents don’t at least encourage it in their children they will see no value in it. You can no longer just go get a minimum wage job and ease a family on it.
    Also the young have to learn the value of hard work and working your way up the ladder. You can’t expect to just start at the top without the experience to be there or start out with top pay. You can’t start out with a chip on your shoulder either and expect to get along with others or be trusted as a team.
    So many of the problems is not a white thing it’s a cost thing and a attitude thing. If you have a will to fail.
    As long as you have to cater to someone this someone will never learn independence or be equal to the ones having to do the catering. It becomes their crutch and gets them out of the responsibility of their own actions or inactions.
    If you failed in a class it wasn’t because of racism it was because you were too busy playing video games or hanging with your friends didn’t study.
    In fact what I seen is the reverse. I’ve seen black teachers down grading white students grades and has been proven. How? I know a student who was a minority herself not black straight A who got down graded because she believed like Shelby about past vs present. Another a white student A student had a black friend who the black friend gave her a paper she got a A on and used that same paper as a test and the teacher gave her a B. So that gets around.
    Where as whites if they think a teacher is not good even if white they will say so but with non whites it’s done in whispers because they will use racism as a excuse even if it’s them who acting out racism. It’s not now real many times but a crutch.
    Thus even though it’s harder to be white as far as responsibility and having no crutch to lean on it makes them smarter and stronger because they are expected to be. It like being the older sibling that is expected to ” know better” vs the younger sibbling. Many times it’s a excuse or shifting the responsibly on the older sibbling.
    Here another one. A guy as a tenn got in the wrong crowd got into some trouble. As he got older straighten out his life worked a job your years working his way up the ladder. Then someone commits a crime in his neighborhood or he gets accused of something and even though he’s not guilty of the accusation he’s assumed guilty because he’s been guilty in the past. So his whole life is ruined because of others prejudice and false accusations.
    Same as screaming racism on the whole nation past bs present.
    Like the NFL and Colin. Colin’s mother was white, his adopted parents were white but he’s screaming racism of all whites by kneeling to the flag. Seriously,
    I suspect he was held suspect to other blacks as not being black so he feels he has something to prove. A personal thing. Meanwhile he donates money to a murderer. Would the real activist of past that did have something to lose both black and white like MLK do something like that? Nor did they denounce their country. They were patriots who worked with our constitution not against it that built up there country not tried to tear it down creating a shot show and more devision.

  • N

    NVCOct 6, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Jovante Anderson makes a great point: those at the lower side of the income distribution have less of a chance of affording college. That is, ability to pay for college is a persistent impediment to advancement. Perhaps we should focus on assisting those from the bottom of the income distribution and lowering college costs….
    Sowell has an interesting analysis at: