More than a quarter of the black students enrolled at selective American colleges and universities are immigrants or the children of immigrants, according to a new paper by sociologists at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania.Will you? And what exactly is a "diversity purist"?
The finding suggests that native-born African-American students are even more underrepresented at selective colleges than is commonly understood. The paper is likely to add fuel to a long-standing debate about the meaning and purpose of affirmative-action programs.
Selective colleges have expanded their enrollments of black students by "increasing the number of immigrant and multiracial black students," Camille Z. Charles, an associate professor of sociology at Penn who is one of the study's authors, said in an interview on Wednesday.
"If you're a purist" -- that is, if you view affirmative action as restitution for the harm done by American slavery and segregation -- "then you'll think that this is not in the spirit of affirmative action," Ms. Charles continued. "But if you're a diversity purist, and your idea is to expose everybody to as many different kinds of people as possible, then you'll think this is great."
At the most selective of the 28 schools, the ratios for non-native black students were even higher. The study included four Ivy League universities -- Columbia, Penn, Princeton, and Yale -- and at those universities, 41 percent of black students were first- or second-generation immigrants.E.g., Barack Obama.
"There are differences in racial identity among black students," Ms. Charles said. "In terms of their vulnerability to stereotype threat, it's certainly possible that students who don't identify strongly with an African-American identity don't experience that kind of anxiety."The first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. Parcel that out!
"On the other hand, it's possible that even though they don't identify themselves a certain way, they realize that other people might be pigeonholing them. So it could go either way. That's what we're trying to parcel out."
Are you getting more diversity or less if you've got a system that skews toward those who have less "vulnerability to stereotype threat"?