Privileged or Mismatched: The Lose-Lose Position of African Americans in the Affirmative Action Debate


This Article builds on an intervention Luke Harris and Uma Narayan made more than two decades ago in the Harvard BlackLetter Law Journal repudiating the conceptualization of affirmative action as a racial preference.1  The central claim we advance is that affirmative action levels the playing field for all African Americans students, not just those who are class-disadvantaged.  Developing this argument is crucial against the backdrop of the argument that affirmative action is both over- and underinclusive.

The underinclusive argument posits that affirmative action does little to remedy the extent to which, across the country, African American students are forced to attend failing primary and secondary schools whose pipelines lead to prisons, not universities.  The claim is that most students who attend these schools are simply too disadvantaged to benefit from policies that presume college eligibility at a minimum.2  At best, extending affirmative action to disadvantaged black students would create a “mismatch” problem;3 the policy would put black students in educational contexts that are above their intellectual achievement grade.  This mismatch would then cause black students to struggle academically to fit in and succeed.

Importantly, proponents of mismatch do not limit their application of the theory to economically disadvantaged blacks.  They apply arguments about mismatch to middle-class African Americans as well.   Indeed, in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Fisher II)4 litigation, a number of the amicus briefs specifically draw on the mismatch theory to challenge the constitutionality of the University of Texas’s admissions policy.5  Their target in doing so is not blacks who are class-disadvantaged but those who presumptively are not.

Whites, on the other hand, largely escape the mismatch critique.  People who argue that affirmative action should focus more on working-class whites, not middle-class blacks, rarely invoke the possibility of mismatch as a concern.  The assumption seems to be that, unlike African American beneficiaries of affirmative action, white working-class beneficiaries will not be in over their head.

Cheryl Harris has suggested that the reason arguments about mismatch are almost always rehearsed with reference to African Americans is because the mismatch thesis aligns with preexisting notions of black intellectual deficit.6  Put another way, the theory of mismatch is another way of writing intellectual deficiency and inability into race—and more specifically, blackness.7  Black intellectual inferiority has long been an important part of the social transcript of American life.  Indeed, perhaps the only thing easier in the United States, racially speaking, than questioning black intellectual ability is associating African Americans with crime.8  That the mismatch theory at least implicitly relies on longstanding “reasonable doubt” about black intellectual competence and capacity makes it all the more important that scholars and policymakers carefully examine the empirical basis for the theory.9

But that is not our project in this Article.  We invoke the theory of mismatch here for a more limited purpose: to reveal how it facilitates the underinclusive argument against affirmative action.  This brings us to the overinclusive claim.

The overinclusive critique of affirmative action posits that affirmative action benefits African Americans who are not disadvantaged.  Extending this benefit to privileged blacks is unfair, the reasoning goes, particularly because this benefit comes at a cost to poor whites.10  Why should admissions policies systematically prefer privileged students (read: black middle-class applicants) over disadvantaged students (read: poor whites)?11  That is the question the overinclusive argument against affirmative action encourages us to ask—and the answer that question invites is clear: Admissions policies should not prefer privileged black students over disadvantaged white ones.

Like many of the arguments against affirmative action, the over- and underinclusive claims against the policy are not new.  Writing in 1994, Harris and Narayan observed that:

 This juxtaposition of the middle-class Black against his poor Black counterpart often has the purpose of setting up an insoluble dilemma between whose horns any possible justification for affirmative action seems to disappear.  The middle-class Black does not need or ‘deserve’ any help countering the effects of racism; therefore, affirmative action is not warranted with respect to him or her.  By contrast, the poor Black perhaps deserves some sort of help, but is situated so as not to be in a position to benefit from affirmative action policies; thus they are of no practical import to him or her.12

The “insoluble dilemma” to which Harris and Narayan refer is another way of saying that opponents of Affirmative action describe African Americans as either too advantaged to deserve affirmative action or too disadvantaged to benefit from the policy.  Privileged or mismatched,13 the lose-lose position African Americans occupy in anti-affirmative action discourse places them beyond the remedial reach of the policy.

The remainder of this Article focuses on the privileged side of the “insoluble dilemma.”  We do so because, since the publication of Harris and Narayan’s paper more than two decades ago, we have yet to read a full defense of affirmative action that expressly focuses on middle-class black applicants.14  By and large, proponents of affirmative action treat black students whose experiences do not comfortably fit the K-12 educational disadvantage narrative as the unintended but unavoidably necessary beneficiaries of the policy.

One of the most striking manifestations of this necessary evil defense of affirmative action is the notion that supporting affirmative action for middle-class African Americans is like supporting partial-birth abortion; ordinarily, one might not want to support partial-birth abortion, but one does so nevertheless to ensure women’s reproductive rights in general.  Similarly, so the argument goes, one ordinarily might not want to support affirmative action, but one does so to ensure racial diversity and to prevent the resegregation of American colleges and universities.15

The failure of proponents of affirmative action to robustly defend the policy for middle-class African Americans strengthens the perception of affirmative action as a racial preference.  Put another way, the perception of affirmative as a racial preference has particular traction when its beneficiaries are black but not class-disadvantaged.  Think about the matter this way: If people believe that colleges and universities employ affirmative action to admit African Americans who are not economically disadvantaged, the conclusion that affirmative action is a racial preference is easy to reach—black students who are not disadvantaged are getting preferential treatment because of their race.  Liberals defend this preference because it advances diversity and contributes to the “robust exchange of ideas.”16  Conservatives reject it because it violates their understanding of colorblindness and effectuates what they call “reverse discrimination” against whites.17

This Article reframes the debate. It does so by explaining why affirmative action for middle-class blacks is neither a racial preference for African Americans nor reverse discrimination against whites.  We locate our argument in the context of admissions.  Specifically, we identify a number of disadvantages black students—across class—likely experience prior to and in the context of applying to colleges and universities.  We argue that these disadvantages can diminish the competitiveness of a black student’s admission file and that affirmative action helps to counteract this negative effect.  In advancing this argument, we hope to make clear that racial inequality is not exhausted by class inequality, that affirmative action is not a racial preference but a mechanism to level the admissions playing field, and that the inclusion of middle-class African Americans in affirmative action programs is not an effort to displace working-class or poor blacks but a way of achieving an important and insufficiently acknowledged diversity benefit: namely, intraracial diversity, or diversity among and between black students, including along the class spectrum.18

The remainder of the essay is organized as follows.  Part I offers a theoretical argument that explains why it is a mistake to frame affirmative action as a racial preference.  We identify a number of obstacles African American students across class likely encounter—up to and including the moment of admission—that potentially negatively impact their formal academic performance and the overall competitiveness of their admissions files.  These obstacles create what we call an “admissions imbalance” that affirmative action helps to offset.  The failure to correct for this imbalance simultaneously hurts black students and benefits students whose educational trajectories do not include the racial obstacles we will describe.  To put this point another way, what black students experience as racial disadvantages, white students experience as a “thumb on the scale,”19 whereby the absence of racial obstacles puts white students at an advantage in the college application process.  In this respect, institutions that do not acknowledge and ameliorate the obstacles we outline in Part I end up producing the very thing many attribute to affirmative action: racial preference.

Drawing principally from research in social psychology, Part II employs empirical evidence to support the theoretical claims Part I articulates.  Here we demonstrate that several of the disadvantages black students encounter potentially affect traditional academic performance indicators (such as standardized test scores and grade point averages (GPAs)) and other critical dimensions of an admission file.

Against the backdrop of Parts I and II, one might reasonably ask why academics, policymakers, lawyers, and judges continue to frame affirmative action as a racial preference.  That is the question we take up in the conclusion.  We suggest that part of the reason people have difficulty seeing affirmative action as a mechanism that levels the playing field for African Americans across class is because the debate over affirmative action overstates or flattens the middle-class status of African Americans.  Indeed, in at least some of the anti-affirmative action discourses, opponents of the policy treat middle-class African American youth as being, effectively, as privileged as the children of President Obama.


I.  Blacks Who Are Not Class-Disadvantaged Are Truly Disadvantaged: The Theoretical Argument

Although racial diversity, not racial disadvantage, counts as a compelling state interest for affirmative action,20 public support for the policy turns, at least in part, on whether people perceive its beneficiaries to be disadvantaged.21  In advancing this claim, we do not mean to suggest that diversity and disadvantage are oppositional concepts or that they are necessarily in tension with each other.  Our point is rather that, as a formal doctrinal matter, equal protection doctrine requires that colleges and universities ground their defense of affirmative action on a diversity, not a disadvantage, rationale.22

Yet it is clear that for at least some Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, concerns about disadvantage shape how they think about the constitutionality of affirmative action. One of the clearest examples of this is manifested in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Fisher I) litigation,23 in which Abigail Fisher sued the University of Texas, alleging that the school’s affirmative action plan violated her rights to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.  During oral argument, Justice Alito pressed Gregory G. Garre, the attorney representing the university, on what Justice Alito perceived to be a fundamental problem with how the school was administering its affirmative action plan:

 Mr. Garre: And I don’t think it’s been seriously disputed in this—this case to this point that, although the percentage plan certainly helps with minority admissions, by and large, the—the minorities who are admitted tend to come from segregated, racially-identifiable schools.

Justice Alito: Well, I thought the whole purpose of affirmative action was to help students who come from underprivileged backgrounds, but you make a very different argument that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

The top 10 percent plan admits lots of African Americans—lots of Hispanics and a fair number of African Americans.  But you say, well, it’s—it’s faulty because it doesn’t admit enough African Americans and Hispanics who come from privileged backgrounds.  And you specifically have the example of the child of successful professionals in Dallas.

Now, that’s your—that’s your argument.  If you . . .  have an applicant whose parents are—let’s say they’re—one of them is a partner in a law firm in Texas, another one is a . . . corporate lawyer.  They have income that puts them in the top 1 percent of earners in the country, and they have—parents both have graduate degrees.

They deserve a leg-up against, let’s say, an Asian or a white applicant whose parents are absolutely average in terms of education and income?

Mr. Garre: No, Your Honor . . . .

Justice Alito: Well, how can the answer to that question be no, because being an African American or being a Hispanic is a plus factor.24

While there is much that one might say about the foregoing exchange, two points in particular deserve engagement.  First, Justice Alito is clearly invoking a version of the black son of a lawyer/white son of a coal miner trope.  More specifically, he is contesting the legitimacy of an admissions regime under which “African Americans and Hispanics who come from privileged backgrounds” get a “leg-up against, let’s say, an Asian or a white applicant whose parents are absolutely average in terms of education and income.”

Second, Justice Alito makes clear that, from his perspective, “the whole purpose of affirmative action was to help students who come from underprivileged backgrounds.”  One might conclude from this statement, particularly because a Supreme Court Justice articulates it, that a university can defend its affirmative action policy on the ground that it benefits students from “underprivileged backgrounds.”  One would be wrong to make this conclusion.  As we have already stated and want to repeat here, diversity, not underprivileged backgrounds, serves as compelling justification for affirmative action.  That is to say, under current law, diversity “is the whole purpose of affirmative action.”25

If equal protection law is clear regarding the constitutional basis on which universities can defend their affirmative action policy, why would Justice Alito get the remedial justification for the policy so wrong?  The answer, we think, is that like many other people, Justice Alito believes that affirmative action should correct for or counteract the disadvantages people encounter in life, notwithstanding that diversity, and not disadvantage, is the constitutionally legitimate justification for affirmative action.

From Justice Alito’s perspective, the black son of a lawyer is not, to borrow from William Julius Wilson, “truly disadvantaged.”26  The black son of a lawyer son should not, therefore, be a beneficiary of affirmative action.

Justice Alito’s sense that blacks who are not class-disadvantaged are not disadvantaged at all likely shapes his perception of affirmative action as a “leg-up.”  Indeed, further along in the oral argument, Justice Alito expressly connects his concerns about blacks who are not class-disadvantaged with his conception of affirmative action as a racial preference.  He does so in the following question he directed at the Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli: “Does the United States agree with Mr. Garre that African American and Hispanic applicants from privileged backgrounds deserve a preference?”27  The very framing of Justice Alito’s question reveals not only his insinuation that middle-class blacks are not disadvantaged, but also his conceptualization of affirmative action as a racial preference.  The short of it is that Justice Alito’s engagement with both Verilli and Garre reflects the view that because the University of Texas’s admission policy confers a racial preference to students who are not disadvantaged (middle-class blacks), the policy, at the very least, is constitutionally suspect.

In this Part we demonstrate why Justice Alito’s framing of affirmative action is flawed.  We do so by interrogating the dominant metaphor people across the ideological spectrum have employed to describe affirmative action—that it is “a thumb on the scale.”  We present six schematics to show how the thumb on the scale characterization of affirmative action simultaneously obscures black disadvantages and facilitates the affirmative action-as-preference frame.

We begin with the first schematic, Figure 1:

Figure 1


Figure 1 presents the default admissions regime in the form of a scale.  A black person sits on one side of the scale and a white person sits on the other.  A critical feature of this scale is that it is perfectly leveled.  The black body weighs no more than the white body.  The black applicant and the white applicant are in equipoise.

Moreover, the black person and the white person look exactly the same.  The only difference between the two is that one has a black face and the other’s face is white.  Race, under this view, marks neither disadvantage nor privilege.  It is nothing more than skin color.  This decidedly thin conception of race invites us to conclude that, in the context of admissions, race does not—and should not—matter.28

In sum, Figure 1’s perfectly balanced scales and similarly situated representation of the black and white applicants communicate the idea that the admissions process is colorblind and is one in which applicants are treated perfectly equally.  Under the admission system that Figure 1 depicts, neither the white applicant nor the black applicant is favored.  Nor is either one disadvantaged.  The admissions process Figure 1 depicts is balanced, racially neutral, and fair.

Now consider Figure 2:

Figure 2


Figure 2 depicts a perception of how affirmative action changes the picture of neutrality that Figure 1 presents.  Appearing in the form of a thumb, affirmative action creates an imbalance.  The weight of the thumb tips the scales in favor of the African American applicant.

Figure 2 illustrates two additional asymmetries that help to shore up the perception of affirmative action as a preference.  First, the black applicant is doing nothing to achieve the competitive advantage he enjoys.  It is not, in other words, an advantage he earned.  He is in the favorable admissions position Figure 2 presents (the scales tilt in his favor) because of the preference affirmative action accords to him simply based on his race.  The white applicant, meanwhile, struggles mightily to pull the scales down to its original—and presumptively racially neutral—position.  But no matter how hard he works, the scales remain tipped in favor of the black applicant.  The weight of the so-called “black bonus” of affirmative action is too heavy for the white applicant to counteract.29

Second, the black applicant is not the “underprivileged” black person who, for Justice Alito, is the appropriate beneficiary of affirmative action.  Professionally dressed, the black applicant stands in for those privileged and undeserving black beneficiaries of affirmative action whom opponents of affirmative action regularly conjure up.  The white applicant, on the other hand, is more casually dressed, suggesting a working-class or poor-white identity.  With respect to economic resources, this applicant is, at best, the white person who, in Justice Alito’s account, affirmative action disadvantages—a white applicant who comes from a family that is “absolutely average in terms of education and income”—and at worst, economically far below that average.  In short, under Figure 2, the admissions system prefers the black applicant (who is presumptively privileged and exerting no effort) over the white applicant (who is presumptively disadvantaged and hard-working).  Here, the admissions process is unbalanced, racially biased, and unfair.  It represents an instance of “reverse discrimination.”30

It is Figure 2 that opponents of affirmative action have in mind when they ask: Why should an admissions policy extend a preference to the black child of a lawyer but not the white child of coal miner?31  When asked, this question is not necessarily about facilitating the upward mobility of the coal miner’s child.32  It is often about criticizing affirmative action as a policy that focuses on race, not disadvantage.33

Importantly, both liberals and conservatives acquiesce in the image of affirmative action Figure 2 depicts.  Both conservatives and liberals regularly refer to affirmative action as a thumb on the scale and both conceptualize the policy as a preference.34  As noted earlier, the basic difference between conservative and liberal positions on affirmative action is that whereas liberals believe that the costs of affirmative action are outweighed by the benefits (including diversity), conservatives perceive the costs of the policy (including “reverse discrimination”) to be too high.

Consider now Figure 3:

Figure 3


Like Figure 2, Figure 3 depicts an admissions regime that is not level.  Here, too, the scales are uneven.  But this time, they tip in favor of the white applicant.  Without further explanation, and against the well-established backdrop of (1) stereotypes about the poor work ethic and intellectual deficit of African Americans,35 (2) discourses about the achievement gap between black and white students,36 (3) the assumption that whites do not benefit from affirmative action,37 and (4) the unlikeliness that any institution would intentionally discriminate in favor of white applicants or against black applicants,38 the conclusion one might draw from Figure 3 is twofold.  First, the white applicant deserves to be in the competitive position he enjoys; and second, the black applicant deserves to be at a disadvantage.  Figure 3, in other words, represents what some might call a “racially natural disequilibrium,” one that derives from the “natural” fact that the white applicant is smarter and/or has worked harder than the black applicant.  Under this view, merit explains why the black applicant is disadvantaged and the white applicant is advantaged.  No remedial intervention is therefore necessary.  What is needed is what Dinesh D’Souza would call a “cultural reconstruction.”39  Black parents, community leaders, and political figures should change the cultural habits of black teenagers,40 encourage them to study hard and stay in school, and persuade them to not associate the pursuit of academics with “acting white.”41  Hard work, greater effort, and a stronger commitment to education on the part of black students would tip the scales in their favor, make them more competitive, and remove the asymmetry Figure 3 illustrates.  The solution for the imbalance Figure 3 presents, in sum, is for black students to fix themselves and become, like Asian Americans, a “model minority.”42

Figure 4 contextualizes the imbalance Figure 3 presents.  It puts into focus two ways in which race tilts the scales in favor of whites, both of which are invisible in Figure 3:

Figure 4


Under Figure 4 (and unlike Figure 3), the asymmetry in the picture is not a function of merit.43  The white applicant is advantaged not because he is smarter or works harder than the black applicant.  The white applicant benefits from two thumbs on the scale: (1) the thumb of black racial disadvantage (the disadvantages that black—but not white—applicants experience), and (2) the thumb of white racial advantage (the advantages that white—but not black—applicants experience).  We discuss them in turn.

The black disadvantage thumb is shorthand for a number of structural racial disadvantages black applicants bring to or experience in the context of the admissions process.  We discuss these disadvantages more fully in Part II and provide a summary articulation of some of them below:

  • Deficient Standardized Tests (the extent to which standardized tests have a disparate impact on African Americans and do not accurately assess their abilities);
  • Explicit racial biases (consciously held negative views about a group);
  • Implicit racial biases (unconsciously held negative views about a group);
  • Stereotype threat (the perception that one’s performance in a particular domain will confirm negative stereotypes about one’s group);
  • Racial isolation (the sense of alienation and marginalization that derives from the underrepresentation of one’s group within a particular institutional setting);
  • Negative institutional cultures (environments whose norms and practices render some groups insiders and others outsiders).

Because the foregoing factors put blacks as a group, relative to whites as a group, at a competitive disadvantage, we might think of these factors, cumulatively, as constituting a thumb on the scale for whites.

Given our earlier observations about race and class, we should be clear to note that the racial disadvantages we set forth above are not class-dependent.  Conspicuously absent from our list is K–12 segregation and inequality.44  We excluded that factor to avoid getting bogged down in a debate about whether K–12 inequality is a class-based problem or a racial one (we think it is both).  Instead, we focus on a set of factors whose impact unequivocally transcends class and refer to them, cumulatively, as the black racial disadvantage thumb.

Think now about the white racial advantage thumb.  Two advantages, together, might be thought of as a thumb on the scale.  First, white applicants benefit from what we call the “intergenerational value of whiteness.”  Every white person benefits from the intergenerational value of whiteness.  Our argument here is not principally about the fact that some whites have been able to transfer resources and wealth (including cultural capital) across generations in ways that African Americans generally have not.  If our claim about white advantage centered on transfer of resources and wealth, many whites—including the son of a coal miner previously discussed—would be excluded from the benefits we attribute to whiteness.  Our argument about white advantage is grounded by the observation that to be white in the United States (irrespective of one’s genealogical relationship to slavery or Jim Crow) is necessarily to inherit the historical badge of honor, privilege, respectability and positive social meanings associated with whiteness and white people.45  While class mediates the degree to which whites benefit from this advantage,46 the phenomenon transcends class.

The second white advantage Figure 4 means to capture is in-group favoritism.  Racial inequality is not just a function of out-group derogation and exclusion, but also preferential treatment toward the in-group.  Although positive in-group bias and negative out-group bias are often discussed as two sides of the same coin, research shows that in-group favoritism and out-group prejudice are in fact distinct.47  Though each operates to maintain systems of inequality, discrimination can be motivated by in-group favoritism alone, without any negative intent or hostility toward the out-group, and vice versa.48  In-group favoritism is ubiquitous, but has the greatest effect when in-group members are in positions of power and can thus preferentially bestow a range of benefits, access to resources, and opportunities to other in-group members.  Because of the political and economic power whites have (and historically have had) as a group, whites are more likely to benefit from in-group favoritism than any other racial group, including African Americans.  Researchers have proposed that in-group favoritism plays a key role in the differential advantage of whites in a large swath of life, from general helping behavior,49 to tipping,50 to evaluation of employment, and housing applications and interviews.51  The cumulative advantages that can accrue from being the repeat beneficiary of in-group preferences are likely significant.

To sum up, under Figure 4, the default admissions regime is uneven.  The scales are unbalanced.  Two thumbs on the scale tip the process in favor of whites to the disadvantage of African Americans.

Figure 5 reintroduces the thumb of affirmative action into the analysis:

Figure 5


In this image, affirmative action is a part of the picture but it does not create the imbalance.  Indeed, even with the thumb of affirmative action, the scales are still uneven.  They continue to lean in a direction that disadvantages African Americans.  The combined weight of the black racial disadvantage thumb and the white racial advantage thumb exceeds that of the affirmative action thumb.  Under Figure 5, while affirmative action is ameliorative, the policy does not completely counteract the combined effects of white advantage and black disadvantage.

At this point in the analysis, an important caveat is in order: Notwithstanding the very specific narrative Figure 5 invites, we should be clear to state that we do not present Figure 5 as a strong empirical claim.  It is hard to know, for example, whether, with the thumb of affirmative action back on the scales, the scales remain tilted in favor of whites.  In some instances, the effect of affirmative action might be to level out the scales; in other instances, the policy might have an overcorrection effect, tilting the scales in favor of African Americans.  To put the point as Harris and Narayan might, we are not arguing that “affirmative action policies are, or can be, magical formulas that help us determine with perfect precision in every case the exact weights that must be accorded a person’s class background, gender, and minority status, so as to afford him or her perfect equality of opportunity.”52  Because context will surely matter, the specific picture Figure 5 paints is best viewed as a soft default.  The more important takeaway from Figure 5 is that affirmative action does not disrupt an otherwise racially neutral baseline at which applicants are similarly situated.  The policy attempts to correct for the thumbs of black racial disadvantage and white racial advantage, both of which tilt the admissions scales in favor of white applicants.

This brings us back to Figure 2, the representation of affirmative action as a racial preference.  The image, again, is this:

Figure 2


Part of what this image communicates is that, but for affirmative action, the white applicant would be in a more competitive position than he currently occupies.  A stronger version of this argument frames affirmative action as an admissions barrier for whites.  More precisely, the claim is that affirmative action causes admissions officers to deny admissions to white students those officers would otherwise admit.

That argument is more spin than empiricism.  Indeed, as Kimberly West-Faulcon has argued, drawing on the work of Goodwin Liu, there is “causation fallacy” in the argument that asserts that but for affirmative action the University of Texas would have admitted Abigail Fisher.  As West-Faulcon explains, there are simply too few black students in the admissions pool of elite colleges and universities for affirmative action to have the causation effect Abigail Fisher and others attribute to it.53

In some ways, even the figures we employ to challenge the racial preference framing of affirmative action invite the “causation fallacy” argument in that they paint a picture of affirmative action in which—throughout the admissions process—a white student finds himself in contestation with a black student over a particular admissions spot.  We know of no school that would describe its admissions process in that way.  Most, if not all, schools would say that they employ some version of “holistic review” under which admissions decisions resemble something like a totality of the circumstances analysis.   Of course, standardized test scores and GPA typically weigh more heavily than other variables.  The point is that while most elite colleges and universities employ affirmative action in the context of admissions, they do not therefore necessarily have affirmative action slots per se.

Second, even if a school aspired to conduct its admissions process so that each spot was a tournament between a white student and a black student, it simply could not do so.  Given, as we have said, the relatively small number of African Americans in the applicant pool of elite colleges and universities, and the fact that not all black applicants are beneficiaries of affirmative action, it is hard to see how there could ever be an admissions system in which every white student finds himself in competition with a black beneficiary of affirmative action for a particular admissions spot.

Significantly, a relatively recent study on race and admissions describes the effect of affirmative action on white applicants as negligible.54  Focusing specifically on Harvard University, the study concludes that removing all African Americans and Latinos from the admissions process at Harvard would increase the likelihood of white applicants being admitted by only 1 percent.55  Assuming, arguendo, that admissions regimes include tournaments between black and white applicants and that affirmative action is a racial preference—this study indicates that the worst-case scenario for white applicants looks something like Figure 6:

Figure 6


In only one of the hundred admissions scales—the first one in the upper-left corner—is a white student in a tournament with a black applicant who is benefitting from the affirmative action thumb on the scale.  The remaining ninety-nine scales do not involve blacks, Latinos, or affirmative action.56

To repeat: We do not think that admissions systems operate as white vs. black tournaments; we do not believe that affirmative action is a racial preference; and it is not our view that, if one thinks of admissions processes as scales, the scales are otherwise balanced but for affirmative action.  We employ Figure 6 not to acquiesce in any of the foregoing ideas but to visually contextualize the strongest case against affirmative action.  In context, that case, as Figure 6 suggests, is decidedly weak.

*               *              *

Central to our thesis thus far is the claim that affirmative action is not a racial preference because, among other things, it corrects for a number of disadvantages African Americans experience up to and during the admissions process.  The question now is whether we can support that thesis empirically.  Is there evidence, in other words, to support our contention that African Americans across class are vulnerable to the racial disadvantages this Part discussed—and evidence linking those disadvantages to critical aspects of an admissions file?  The short answer to both questions is “yes.”  Part II elaborates on these questions—and their answers.

II.  Quantifying Black Racial Disadvantage: The Empirical Evidence

This Part provides empirical evidence to support our claim that black students across class, and not just class-disadvantaged black students, experience multiple disadvantages that likely affect their academic performance and the overall competitiveness of their admissions files.  As a starting point, we ask you to consider the following scenario.

Imagine that the son of a black lawyer starts his first day at a predominantly white high school.  What concerns and anxieties does his parent have as she waves goodbye to her teenager?  Some concerns—whether her child will eat lunch at the appropriate time (if at all) or will spend too much time on social media—are universal parenthood worries.  But beyond these concerns, the black parent will have a number of very specific worries.  The black parent will wonder whether her son made it safely to school without being mistakenly profiled as a criminal suspect—and whether at school so-called Resource Officers (local police officers assigned to work at the school) will intentionally profile him as a criminal suspect.  She will wonder whether the teachers understand that educators hold lower expectations (both consciously and unconsciously) of black students.  She will ask herself whether this will be another year in which teachers patronize her child, offer less constructive feedback on his work, and provide few, if any, mentorship opportunities.  The black parent will also hope that her advice to her son “not to argue with the teachers and do exactly as they tell you” will prevent teachers from perceiving him as “a boy with an attitude.”

The black parent will wonder whether this year her son will be cajoled—again—into giving the annual Black History Month speech, pressured into joining the basketball team (though he would rather play tennis), and tokenized and marginalized as the holder of the most insignificant position in student government.  The black parent will also think about the racial demographics of the school in a broader institutional sense.  Will her son, finally, have a black teacher?  A teacher of color?  Will there be a few more black students at the school this year?  (She knows there will not be many more than the last time she researched the matter.)  Will some of the black students at the school be in her son’s class so that he feels some measure of racial comfort—or will her son have to supply racial comfort to his classmates to make them feel less anxious and nervous around him?57

Will her son be tracked into the less demanding classes?  Will he be counseled out of thinking about competitive colleges and universities as a future possibility?  Will any of her son’s teachers evidence a concern about and be attentive to his overall racial well-being?

The black parent’s concerns put into sharp relief some of the racial obstacles her son will face throughout his high school career, notwithstanding that he is middle-class.  This Part explains how these obstacles can have a negative effect on the admissions file of this student five years downstream, shaping not only “hard” evaluative measures, such as standardized test scores and grades, but also “soft” evaluative measures, such as leadership experience, awards, extracurricular opportunities, internships, and letters of recommendations.  We focus our attention on four specific racial disadvantages—stereotype threat, implicit biases, explicit biases, and negative institutional culture—and show that they are independent of economic class status.

A.  Stereotype Threat

Stereotype threat is one of the most studied, and most prevalent, forms of psychological strain faced by black students.58  This Subpart explains how stereotypes can negatively affect a black student’s performance on standardized tests, classroom engagement, and whether and to what extent the student seeks help outside of the classroom or visits a teacher during office hours.59  Each of the foregoing effects potentially diminishes the competitiveness of a student’s admissions file.

Roughly, stereotype threat refers to a scenario in which (a) because of one’s membership in a particular social group, negative stereotypes exist about one’s ability to perform in some specific domain, (b) one is consciously or unconsciously concerned about confirming those stereotypes, and (c) that concern undermines the quality of one’s performance.  For example, pervasive stereotypes that blacks are less intelligent or less capable60 may cause black students to fear that their performance in school will confirm, to themselves or to others,61 that these negative stereotypes are true.  These worries raise the stakes of school performance, adding an additional layer of pressure to achieve that increases stress,62 undermines learning and engagement,63 taxes cognitive resources,64 and impairs academic performance.65

The effect of stereotype threat on black students has been observed in hundreds of psychological studies employing rigorous experimental methods, both in controlled laboratories and in the field.66  For example, an early laboratory experiment conducted by Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson randomly assigned black and white participants to complete verbal questions from the graduate record examinations (GRE) under one of two conditions: threat or no threat.67  In the threat condition, participants were told that the questions were a test that would measure their intellectual ability, a statement that for black students activates known racial stereotypes about intellectual inferiority and triggers the concern that they may confirm this negative stereotype by performing poorly.  In the no threat condition, participants were told that the questions were simply a laboratory problem-solving task that would not evaluate their ability.  The authors found that black students performed significantly worse than white students in the threat condition, but equivalent to white students in the lower-stakes no threat condition.  In other words, when racial stereotypes of intellectual inferiority were made salient—simply by stating that the test was diagnostic of intellectual ability—black students faced the psychological strain of stereotype threat, which disrupted their performance and produced a racial performance gap; in contrast, when the questions were framed as nonevaluative (which is very rarely how tests are presented in the real world), the racial performance gap disappeared.

This finding has been replicated many times, not just in the laboratory, but also in real-world settings.  For example, California administers two sets of exams with similar content but different psychological effects, closely mirroring the threat and no threat conditions outlined above.  The state-mandated high school exit exam represents a high-stakes testing environment (threat) that students must pass to graduate from high school, whereas state achievement exams are low-stakes because students’ performance on these tests does not affect their ability to graduate, grades, or other academic outcomes (no threat).  In a study of these exams, Sean Reardon and colleagues found that black and Latino students tended to perform just as well as white students on the low-stakes achievement exams, but significantly worse on the high-stakes exit exams.68

The effects of stereotype threat have also been documented experimentally many times through randomized controlled trials, where half of students were assigned to participate in brief exercises designed to reduce stereotype threat.69  By administering these exercises at the outset, psychologists have directly measured the effect of stereotype threat on black students’ academic achievement by observing what happens when this psychological strain is mitigated as a factor.

Meta-analyses70 examining the performance of the thousands of students who have participated in stereotype threat-reduction field experiments over the past decade estimate that the difference between academic achievement when stereotype threat has been experimentally reduced versus when the psychological environment has been left in its natural state is the equivalent of about a sixty-three point difference on the SAT.71  In fact, these meta-analyses find that, after threat is reduced, students contending with negative stereotypes about their performance (black students) actually outperform their non-stereotyped peers (white students).72  These results show the clear depressive effect of stereotype threat on black students’ academic performance; indeed, instead of reflecting academic ability, test scores and grades often reflect the presence of race-related psychological threat in students’ environment.  Does a sixty-three point difference on the SAT matter?  In the highly competitive world of college admissions, every point matters.

Importantly, this process of stereotype threat is not unique to black students; rather, it is a normal and ubiquitous response to an environment where negative stereotypes and bias about any group loom large.  For example, awareness of the stereotype that older adults have problems with memory can cause older individuals to perform worse on memory tasks when the tasks are framed as diagnostic of memory capacity.73  After activation of stereotypes that women are worse than men at math74 and driving,75 women underperform compared to men on math and driving tests, whereas no gender differences are observed when these stereotypes are not made salient.  Similarly, when an athletic task is framed as a test of natural athletic ability, white men perform worse than black men;76 when white men think that they are being compared in math ability to Asian men, their performance on math tests declines.77  Stereotype threat results in the greatest performance deficits for those who identify most with the threatened group identity (for instance, their race) and the domain in which they are stereotyped (for example, school performance),78 but can affect members of any group that is negatively stereotyped, regardless of whether they believe that the stereotype is true.

In the extensive body of research on race-based stereotype threat (or any other kind of stereotype threat), there is no empirical nor theoretical evidence that relative economic advantage shields black students from the effects of racial stereotype threat.  A black student who is economically advantaged is aware of and contends with negative racial stereotypes of intellectual ability and therefore is just as susceptible as a black student who is economically disadvantaged to the harmful effects of stereotype threat due to his or her race.

In fact, to the extent that economically advantaged black students are participating in activities associated with higher socioeconomic status of which blacks have not typically been a part (including ballet, playing the violin, and attending private schools), these students might experience more stereotype threat.  Research shows that context cues, such as a small number of ingroup members present, low minority representation in brochure photographs, and even physical objects typically associated with the dominant, non-stereotyped group can trigger stereotype threat.79  Based on this work, middle-class blacks who tend to have more exposure to mostly-white environments than economically disadvantaged blacks may face more consistent and stronger effects of stereotype threat because they contend with greater exposure to such cues.  There is some evidence to support this proposition.  Something as simple as taking an exam in a mostly white classroom can depress black students’ scores more than taking the identical exam in a room with a higher concentration of same-race students.80

The effects of stereotype threat go beyond performance suppression.  Stereotype threat can negatively affect classroom learning, prevent ability building, and undermine academic engagement.81  For example, because of stereotype threat, black students may be reluctant to join study groups, ask questions in class, or visit professors’ office hours.  Avoiding each of the preceding interactions reduces the risk that the black students will say or do something that will confirm negative stereotypes of their intelligence or competence.82  In this respect, stereotype threat is best understood as a “double jeopardy” phenomenon, affecting not only the back-end educational dynamics (performance on tests) but front-end dynamics as well (classroom learning and study groups).83

Note that the stereotype threat dynamics we have discussed could have an interactive effect in ways that compound the black student’s level of disadvantage.  For example, the teacher may assume that the black student who is not speaking in class did not do the assignment or, if he did, must not have understood what he read.  She may assume, further, that the black student did not seek guidance because that student is lazy, unmotivated, or disinterested in his future career.  Her default with respect to why the student neither speaks in class nor visits her during office hours is unlikely to be that stereotype threat (or some other racial phenomenon, for example, racial alienation or isolation) is playing a role.  The problem here, then, is not only that the teacher is unlikely to intervene to diminish the effect of stereotype threat.  It is also that her reaction to the student, based on racial stereotypes (for example, that the student is lazy or unmotivated), could potentially heighten stereotype threat for the student, further decreasing the likelihood that the student will participate in class or visit the teacher during office hours.

Significantly, the consequences of this stereotype threat do not end here.  The teacher in our hypothetical is unlikely to write a positive letter of recommendation for the student.  The fact that the student will not have visited her during office hours and does not speak in class means that the teacher will have to rely on the very thing that is most negatively affected by stereotype threat—the student’s formal academic performance.

B.  Implicit and Explicit Biases

While explicit and implicit biases are very different social phenomena, both can have a negative effect on admissions-relevant aspects of a student’s educational experience.  Specifically, both forms of biases can negatively affect (1) a teacher’s substantive evaluation of a student’s written work; (2) the level of enthusiasm a teacher expresses in letters of recommendation; (3) teachers’ and administrators’ facilitation of internships and other educational opportunities (such as conferences); (4) teachers’ and administrators’ recommendations for awards; and (5) a student’s leadership opportunities.  We begin with a discussion of explicit biases.

1.  Explicit Biases

Explicit biases refer to biases about which we are consciously aware.  They can take the form of stereotypes (such as, “black people are lazy”)84 or attitudes (such as, “I dislike black people”).85  For example, in 2008, 48 percent of Americans surveyed reported explicit negative attitudes towards blacks.86  By 2013, that statistic increased to 51 percent.  Stereotypes and attitudes do not always travel in the same normative direction.  One might like African Americans (a positive attitude) but think they are lazy (a negative stereotype); one might dislike Asian Americans (a negative attitude) but think they are smart (a positive stereotype).

Nowadays, explicit bias is seldom stated as directly as our previous examples may imply.  In other words, people will rarely say “black people are lazy” or “I dislike black people.”  Instead, explicit bias is often more surreptitiously conveyed under the cover of what social psychologists call symbolic racism. Central to symbolic racism is the view that people who are consciously racist will often avoid speaking in terms that reveal their racial views.87  In lieu of using language that directly implicates race, these individuals often employ formally race-neutral language that masks underlying antiblack attitudes or stereotypes regarding African Americans.

According to the theory of symbolic racism, white Americans’ puzzlement over the persistence of racial disparities despite an apparent end to de jure discrimination during the civil rights era88 facilitated the development of a rhetoric that attributed black racial inequality to deficiencies in black American values and culture.  In other words, under the belief system of symbolic racism, racial discrimination is no longer a barrier to blacks in education, employment, and other contexts.  To the extent that blacks are underrepresented at elite colleges and universities, and overrepresented in prisons, the problem is not bad laws or governance practices but bad individual behavior or culture.89  Because symbolic racism eschews the biological racial inferiority rhetoric of the Jim Crow era, and because it harnesses socially endorsed, traditional American values such as individualism, self-reliance, and hard work, the explanation it offers for ongoing racial disparities is not obviously in tension with civil rights norms of racial egalitarianism.90  Symbolic racism thus captures a phenomenon in which one can argue against various forms of racial remediation, including affirmative action, using traditional American principles and values.91  The invocation of these values provides a kind of rhetorical cover for people’s residual antiblack affect.92

Following its introduction in the mid-1980s, symbolic racism quickly emerged as a powerful predictor of policy attitudes regarding racialized issues such as affirmative action93 as well as voter preference in elections of black candidates.94  More importantly for our purposes, a broad set of studies has shown that symbolic racism is rooted in antiblack animosity.  For example, in a study by P. J. Henry and David Sears examining the validity of the phenomenon, symbolic racism was assessed in five survey samples alongside measures of political party identification and ideology, of racial affect (whether, for example, people express warmth to African Americans and claim to like them), and of traditional black stereotype endorsement (for example, the belief that blacks are less intellectually able).95  Using factor analyses, a statistical method designed to identify the variables to which a particular phenomenon like symbolic racism relates, the authors found that symbolic racism mapped equally onto racial animosity (in other words, traditional prejudice and antiblack affect) and conservative political predisposition (in other words, conservative ideology and conservative Republican party identification).  Interestingly, the researchers found that racial animosity and political predispositions were not strongly correlated with one another, leading them to conclude that “[t]he symbolic racism belief system is the glue that joins these two elements.”96

Although symbolic racism is rooted in residual antiblack animosity, it is demonstrably distinct.  Two indications of this are that more whites support symbolic racism than old-fashioned racism, and symbolic racism has a greater effect on race-related policy outcomes than old-fashioned racism.97

To be clear: We are not saying everyone who opposes affirmative action or other forms of civil rights-oriented policy interventions is racist, symbolically or otherwise.  Our suggestion is decidedly more modest—that people who are consciously and intentionally racist typically will not express themselves in ways that betray their racial commitments.  Instead, they will employ race-neutral language that aligns with traditional American values or otherwise conceals their biases.  The phenomenon of symbolic racism, in short, provides at least some empirical support for the proposition that intentional and explicit biases are not a thing of the past.

Self-reports by blacks provide further support for the argument that explicit bias shapes the experience of African Americans.  If hundreds of studies show that blacks report experiencing a particular social phenomenon, our collective default should be to take those reports seriously, including reports of racism.  Research reveals that, across age, gender, and class, blacks consistently report more experiences of unfair treatment and discrimination than whites.98  In one large-scale national survey, researchers found that nearly 49 percent of blacks reported encountering some form of discrimination (for example, not given a promotion, hassled by police, denied/received inferior service) in their lifetime.99  Of these respondents, the vast majority (89.7 percent) reported race as a reason for this discrimination.

Findings of the foregoing sort apply to black students as well.  One study, for example, corroborated black students’ self-reports of explicit racial discrimination by conducting field observations of the daily interactions among students, teachers, and administrators, along with interviews of students and their families.  More precisely, the study included an ethnographic examination of a collection of middle-class black male students at a suburban high school.100  These students and their families reported multiple experiences with racial profiling, stereotypes, and differential treatment based on race.  Moreover, the researcher observed repeated differential treatment in discipline, assumptions made by teachers and administrators about the deviance and lack of intelligence of black students, and frequent racist discourse about black students’ performance.101  A particularly significant finding in the study is that “class privilege could not shield [the middle-class black students] from” the foregoing experiences.  Indeed, students across class often experienced the institutional culture of the school as a “racial ‘witch-hunt.’”102

Scholarship on graduate students similarly reveals robust self-reports of racism.103  One study engaged seventy-four black doctoral and graduate students from over seventy U.S. colleges and universities.  The researchers measured students’ experiences of discrimination (as recorded in student diaries) every day for fourteen days.  They found that black students reported experiencing racial discrimination approximately every 3.5 days on university campuses.  Furthermore, blacks who reported racial discrimination were also likely to report anxiety, feelings of negativity, and depression.  There was no indication in the study that middle-class status inoculated black students from the foregoing experiences.

A final context in which to analyze black students’ self-reports of racism is undergraduate education.  Recall the wave of student protest across the country this past year.  Black students employed this protest to highlight their sense of isolation and alienation at predominantly white colleges and universities.104  By the end of the calendar year, African Americans at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Indiana University, University of Missouri, and many other schools (ranging widely in tuition cost and admissions requirements) littered the media with reports of subtle and blatant forms racism.  Focusing specifically on the University of Missouri, the Huffington Post ran an editorial entitled, “It shouldn’t be so hard to accept that racism is a problem at Mizzou.”105  The article chronicled some of the racist acts faced by black college students at the University of Missouri, including these.

  • On the morning of 26, 2010, in the final days of Black History Month, students woke up to find cotton balls spread across the grounds in front of the Black Culture Center on campus—a scene evoking slavery.
  • A year after the cotton ball incident, also during Black History Month, a racist slur was spray-painted on a statue outside a
  • On the night of 5, 2015, members of the Legion of Black Collegians, a historic black student government group, were rehearsing for a homecoming performance on stage. Some members had a heated exchange with what they later described as an “obviously intoxicated” young white male who interrupted their rehearsal to question why they were there.  When he stumbled off the stage and fell he was heard saying into his cellphone: “These n****rs are getting aggressive with me.”

The New York Times published a similar list that included instances of racial profiling by campus police officers, offensive Halloween costumes, racial slurs in school newspapers and classroom discussions, and theme parties at which students appear in blackface and wear modes of dress and makeup stereotypically associated with African Americans.  This list likely includes only the most public and unequivocal manifestations of racist conduct, not the entire universe of such events.106  The above examples, and our broader discussion of black self-reports of racism, suggest that it is a mistake to think that explicit racial bias on college campuses is a thing of the past.107

Still, we have not linked our discussion of explicit biases to the domain of student experiences with which we began: admissions-relevant student experiences.  In other words, we have not pointed to a moment in which a particular teacher in a particular institutional setting evaluated a particular student negatively because of that student’s race.  But because very few teachers are likely to announce their racism, the absence of that empirical showing should hardly surprise us.  This bring us to the implicit bias literature.  That body of work provides an evidence-based way of linking racial bias to teachers’ and admissions officers’ evaluation of students.

2.  Implicit Biases

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes and/or stereotypes that exist in the absence of a person’s intention, awareness, deliberation, or effort.  Unlike explicit bias, which reflects people’s attitudes and beliefs that they consciously endorse, implicit bias results from cognitive processes that operate at a level below conscious awareness and without intentional control.108

Most implicit attitude measures rely on reaction times,109 and the Implicit Associations Test (IAT) is perhaps the most well-known reaction time task.  The IAT gauges differences in how easy or difficult it is for people to associate individual exemplars of various social categories (whites vs. blacks, rich vs. poor, gay vs. straight, and so on) with abstract words and categories with evaluative implications (such as good vs. bad, pleasant vs. unpleasant).  The IAT is based on the assumption that any exemplar (for instance, black) is cognitively associated with a corresponding evaluation (for instance, good or bad) and that pairing the exemplar with the corresponding evaluative words (for instance, black = bad) results in faster reaction times than pairing the exemplar with unrelated or incongruent evaluative words (for instance, black = good).  The IAT is commonly used in laboratory and field research and its reliability110 and validity111 are well documented.  Considerable research has indicated that most Americans display a pro-white/antiblack bias on the IAT.112  This bias has been demonstrated in children as young as six years old.113  In short, implicit bias is an invisible but pervasive reality of American life.

As Rachel Godsil observes, “The power of implicit bias to undermine educational opportunities of students of color are obvious—their contributions may fail to be recognized for their merit, they may well experience incidents in which they are treated differently by teachers, peers, and administration, or even assumed not to be students at all.”114  Below we explain why Godsil is right.  More precisely, we discuss the relationship between implicit bias and educational outcomes.  We begin with a 2010 study by Dr. van den Bergh and colleagues that explores the relationship between the implicit biases of teachers and the overall academic performance of students.115  We then explore how implicit biases affect both the evaluation of writing and the substantive content of letters of recommendations.  As we will explain, each of the foregoing contexts in which implicit biases plausibly operate can impact the perceived competitiveness of a student’s admissions file.

a.  Implicit Biases and Overall Academic Performance

The study by Dr. van den Bergh and colleagues focused on both implicit and explicit biases; however, our analysis will highlight the implicit bias dimensions of their findings.  In short, the researchers found that teachers who scored high in implicit racial bias produced racial minority students with poor academic performance.116  Their study compared teachers’ implicit racial attitudes (as measured by the IAT) with actual students’ standardized test scores.117  They found that racial minority students in classes of teachers with negative implicit attitudes showed lower standardized test scores than racial minority students of teachers with more positive implicit attitudes.  The study also found that the achievement gap between racial minority and racial majority students was higher among classes whose teachers had more negative implicit attitudes.

At the same time, there are limitations to the van den Bergh study. The correlational nature of the findings, the fact that the overall observed impact is modest (7–8 percent of the variance), and that the study was conducted with Dutch and Turkish/Moroccan students in a different educational context all suggest that we should interpret the results of the study with caution.  On the other hand, the findings are consistent with studies in the United States showing that test scores of girls in math classes taught by teachers with negative implicit biases are lower than the test scores of girls from teachers with more positive implicit attitudes.118  Black students could be vulnerable to a similar dynamic, particularly because implicit bias is so widespread.  In short, there is reason to believe that, in classrooms all across America, the implicit biases of teachers are negatively impacting black students’ test scores—the very test scores admissions officers use to screen students for admissions.

b.  Implicit Biases and the Evaluation of Writing

There are other ways in which implicit biases can impact teachers’ evaluation of black students. Consider, for example, a relatively recent study in which evaluators rate the writing skills of blacks and whites.119  Reeves and colleagues simulated an evaluation of a legal memo with actual law firm partners.  This study was not conducted on college campuses, but its high external validity offers a strong parallel to teachers’ and advisors’ evaluation of the work of black and white students.  In this mock evaluation of legal memos, the researchers manipulated whether partners from several law firms in the United States reviewed and rated a legal memo ostensibly written by Thomas Meyer, either a black or a white associate.  The study found that partners who reviewed the memo written by the black Thomas Meyer identified more errors, had more critical comments, and rated the memo worse than the white Thomas Meyer.

Interestingly, bias was found at the data gathering stage, when partners were searching for errors and critiquing the memo, and not at the rating stage, when partners were rating the overall quality of the writing effectively by adding up all of the errors.  In other words, when Meyer was “black,” partners searched for and found more errors in the memo than when Meyer was “white.”  Blackness seemed to have engendered a more critical eye.  Then once the errors and negative comments were tabulated, the black Thomas Meyer was scored lower than the white Thomas Meyer.

A critical dimension of the study is that it suggests that it matters precisely when and where we look for bias.  The partners discriminated on the front-end of the evaluation (when they were assigning errors), not on the back-end (when they aggregated those errors and made an overall evaluation of the writing).  The fact that the partners followed fair procedures (counting the number of errors) to rate the memos did not cure the prior act of discrimination (the allocation of more errors to the memos they thought black attorneys wrote).

Think about the implications of the foregoing study for black students.  Students write multiple essays—across the curriculum—in high school.  The cumulative effect of the writing evaluation bias that Reeves and colleagues found could be quite significant.

c.  Implicit Biases and Letters of Recommendations and Mentoring

Consider another implicit bias problem that a black student might encounter: letters of recommendation that coaches, teachers, and religious leaders write to champion the student’s abilities and promise.  Implicit bias has been shown to affect how people write letters of recommendation, with implications for the success of the applicant in a competitive applicant pool.

In one study,120 researchers conducted an analysis of three hundred recommendation letters for women and men applying for medical school faculty positions and found that: (a) letters written for women were shorter; (b) they contained fewer assurances of competence and achievements but more assurances of compassion; and (c) they portrayed women as students and teachers rather than researchers and professionals.  These differences led evaluators to perceive women as less competent than men, likely contributing to gender gaps in hiring, advancement, and receiving grants.121  Here, similar to the essay-writing study, bias altered how individuals constructed the abilities of women compared to men.

Studies of letters of recommendation show precisely how powerful implicit bias can be.  Letter writers typically prepare letters as a personal favor to the applicant and often spend hours of their personal time to champion their student’s cause.  Letter writers’ motivation to be racially biased in this context is low.  If anything, their motivation to be biased in favor of the letter recipient is high.  Yet even in a context where decisionmakers—here, letter writers—are motivated to do the right thing, implicit bias can constrain their capacity to do so.

d.  Implicit Biases and Evaluations of Resumes

At least two studies suggest that implicit biases can shape how decisionmakers evaluate resumes.  In one study, researchers122 asked male and female participants to evaluate the same resume with a randomly assigned male or female name.  They found that both male and female evaluators gave the male applicants better evaluations in teaching, service, and research and were more likely to hire male over female applicants.  This study is relevant to our analysis not only because black women, as women, likely experience this dynamic,123 but also because they likely face a similar dynamic with respect to race.  Indeed, in a comparative study of job applications with African American-sounding names and white-sounding names,124 researchers found that applicants with African American-sounding names had to send an average of fifteen resumes to get one call back as opposed to ten resumes for applicants with white-sounding names.125  Moreover, the study found that, with respect to callback rate, having a white sounding names was equivalent to having eight additional years of experience.126

These resume studies are relevant to our analysis in at least two ways.  First, faculty typically ask students for resumes as a predicate to writing letters of recommendations and refer to those resumes in the letters they write.  There is reason to be concerned that, because of implicit biases, faculty are under-reading the resumes of African American students and thus under-describing black students’ abilities and promise.  Second, admissions officials will read the resumes of prospective students to get a holistic picture of applicants and to assess students’ overall qualifications.  Here, too, because implicit bias is so widespread, there is the potential for under-reading.

Of course, it’s hard to know the extent to which the resume bias problem we have described is a problem.  We are aware of no empirical study quantifying the effect of resume bias on black college applicants.  Our point is simply to suggest that there is reason to believe black applicants to colleges and universities are impacted by resume bias.  It is another racial disadvantage black applicants across class likely experience that potentially renders their admissions files less competitive than those files would otherwise be.

C.  Negative Institutional Culture

The final racial disadvantage we discuss that likely impacts the competitiveness of black students’ admissions files is negative institutional culture.  To understand this phenomenon, it is helpful to note that targets of discrimination (for example, African Americans) focus not only on whether the people around them are explicitly or implicitly biased, but on whether the institutional cultures in which they are situated are explicitly or implicitly biased.  In other words, socially marginalized groups focus on both discriminatory people and discriminatory institutions.  They look for “cues” in the environment to ascertain whether that environment is one in which they are likely to succeed.127 The following are examples of environmental cues to which black students are likely to attend:

  1. Racial Demographics of Student Body. The lower the representation of black students within a particular institutional context, the greater the likelihood that those students will perceive that institution as unwelcoming and/or as one in which they are unlikely to 128
  2. Governing Ideology. The more an institution insists that race does not matter and encourages members within the institution to avoid discussing or engaging race, the more likely black students are to distrust the institution and question whether they belong.129  In this respect, a school that promotes a formal commitment to colorblindness is going to feel less welcoming to black students than a school that encourages   Black students may interpret a school’s commitment to colorblindness as a signal that black students should “tone down” the degree to which they are black and “act white.”130  The more formally colorblind a school institutionally feels to black students, the stronger the pressure black students might experience to leave their “whole person” at home,131 compromise their sense of identity, and signal racial palatability.132
  3. Curricular Offerings and Content. There are at least two dimensions to how curricular offerings and content function as environmental   First, institutions that offer very little in the way of courses on cultural and historical experiences outside of white European civilization are less likely to be ones in which black students feel comfortable or engaged.133 We call this the “what teachers teach” dimension of the curriculum. But there is a “how teachers teach” problem as well.  A teacher might teach the history of the U.S. Constitution without discussing race; engage in debates about whether black students have a right to attend, or are smart enough to be at, the very institution in which they are taking the course; explore “both sides” of the argument as to whether blacks are more criminally inclined than whites; and call on black students only when the topic of race comes up.   We recognize that a teacher might offer pedagogical reasons for pursing any of the foregoing modes of engagement, including the rationale that they facilitate the robust exchange of ideas.  Our point is to highlight a potential distributional effect of how teachers teach: The creation of an unwelcoming institutional environment for black students that diminishes the likelihood that black students will succeed.
  4. Faculty and Administrative Leadership Demographics. Faculty and staff diversity, and not just student diversity, is an important environmental cue for black   This might explain why, year after year, students across the country protest the lack of faculty and staff diversity.134  Underlying this effort is not just a commitment to antidiscrimination and equality but a sense that the more racially diverse the faculty and administrative leadership of a school, the more African Americans are going to feel like they belong at that school.  There are three more concrete ways to understand why black students might pay attention to faculty and staff diversity.
    First, faculty and staff can serve as mentors—even for students whose areas of interest do not converge with the faculty or staff member’s.  Second, black faculty and staff can serve as role models, signaling by their very presence that black students belongs at and can thrive in the institution.  Third, black faculty and staff can function as bridge-builders to multiple parts of the university, including facilitating interactions between black students and nonblack faculty and staff in the students’ areas of interest. The foregoing three reasons explain why black students are likely to pay attention to faculty and staff diversity.  That diversity is an environmental cue for the kind of faculty and staff relationships students think they will have, the level of difficulty they think they will experience navigating the institution, and the overall racial climate of the school.
  5. Institutional Signs of Stigma and Exclusion. Given the history of racism in educational access in the United States, many colleges and universities continue to harbor enduring signs of stigma and exclusion, manifested, for instance, in the names of   Buildings at both elite and nonelite colleges and universities are sometimes named after people who supported the most racially subordinating aspects of American history, for example, slavery.  Yet, these are precisely the spaces in which black students are expected to learn and take exams.   Over the past year, students across the country have been organizing to rename numerous buildings, explaining that the existing names stigmatize students of color and send a message that they do not belong.135
    A similar point can be made about college and high school mascots.  For decades, Native Americans have been organizing around this issue.  The problem here is not just one of cultural exploitation and appropriation,136 it is also one of racial stigma and environmental marginalization.  The existence of these sports mascots stigmatizes Native Americans as a group, depressing self-esteem, feelings of community worth, and perceived possibilities for future academic success.137  This increased stigma renders the universities and high schools that the mascots purport to represent less welcoming and more hostile institutional spaces.138
    There are more subtle signs of stigma and exclusion in educational settings that bear emphasis as well. Consider, for example, the practice of displaying the portraits of the founding faculty members on the walls throughout the university.  This ubiquitous and seemingly neutral practice exacts a cost on students who were excluded during the colleges’ founding.  Inevitably, the portraits hang on the wall of the most prominent parts of the university, including classrooms.  Inevitably, the figures these portraits represent are white and male.  And, inevitably, some of people the images depict have meaningful ties to slavery or Jim Crow.  Yet, black students must interact with those portraits—sometimes daily—and with the legacies of exclusion those portraits represent.  Those interactions serve as an implicit reminder that the institution is not one in which black students have historically belonged.
    Now consider a private high school at which the annual tradition during graduation is for the head of school to instruct parents or grandparents who are alumni of the school to stand up.  After they do so, the principal invites everyone in attendance to recognize this group with a round of applause.  Given, again, the history of race and educational access, that moment of recognition—which is not intended to be racially communicative—sends a clear signal about which groups, historically, have been insiders at the school and which have been outsiders.  Every year the school sends the message.
  6. Law Enforcement Police surveillance on high school and college campuses is another environmental cue on which black students focus.  While the data on racial profiling on high school and college campuses is decidedly incomplete, black students across the country report being racially profiled by campus police.139  The more black students on a particular college campus feel vulnerable to being racially profiled on a school’s campus, the more those students will feel like outsiders and potentially disengage from the school’s community.

Assuming that we are correct that the foregoing six items function as environmental cues for African Americans, one might reasonably ask whether evidence exists linking those items to the competitiveness of a black applicant’s admissions file.  There is some, though not much, direct evidence on this point.

First, research shows that the more one feels like an outsider within a particular institutional setting, the less well one will perform.  Consider, for example, a small group of black students taking an exam in a predominantly white environment.  As we indicated earlier, the black students’ underrepresentation can operate as a negative environmental cue that compromises the students’ performance on the exam.140  In a specific test of this reasoning, female students in one study who were exposed to a computer science classroom containing items typically associated with computer scientist “geeks” (such as a Star Trek poster, video games, and computer parts) reported less interest in computer science, manifested more self-consciousness about how they were perceived, and experienced less comfort fitting in with computer scientists compared to when they were exposed to a computer science classroom with neutral cues (such as a nature poster, books, and coffee mugs).141  These discrepancies persisted even when the female students thought they would be joining an all-female team of computer scientists.

Second, environmental cues can affect how white students view black students—and in ways that are relevant to admissions.  Something as seemingly innocuous as the visual imagery of a school—literally, the posters on the wall—can affect how white students perceive and interact with black students.  The types of posters and materials that predominantly white schools display to recognize Black History Month generally focus on cultural diversity, without explicit mentions of historical racism or slavery.  Predominantly black schools, by contrast, generally emphasize black history in particular, explicitly referencing slavery, racism, and the Civil Rights Movement.142  The foregoing two clusters of images—the cultural diversity imagery from predominantly white schools and the black civil rights imagery from the predominantly black schools—create different environmental cues for white students.  In an experimental setting with white participants who were completely blind to the origin of the materials, exposure to the predominantly white school materials diminished white students’ (1) perception of racism against blacks, (2) recognition of race-related barriers to opportunity, and (3) support for antidiscrimination remedial interventions.143

The foregoing findings suggest that white students pay attention to environmental cues as well.  The specific environmental cues of visual imagery at predominantly white schools make white students less willing to acknowledge the existence of racism and less motivated to mitigate the interpersonal and institutional effects of the phenomenon.  White students’ disinvestment in antiracism along the preceding lines is not cost-free.  Black students incur the expense.  The lower white students’ level of regard for racism, the higher black students’ sense of alienation and exclusion and the less likely black students are to thrive in ways that enhance their college application profile.

Another way environmental cues impact white students to the detriment of black students takes us back to our discussion about racial demographics.  The more black students are underrepresented numerically in classrooms, the less likely their peers are to treat them as leaders, even when they are well-liked (which is unusual, because perception of leadership skills and popularity typically overlap).144  Perceptions of black students both as leaders and as likeable figures improve as their numerical representation increases.145  In contrast, perceptions of white students do not depend on their numerical representation; whether white students are the numerical minority or majority, they tend to be rated highly by their peers with respect to both likeability and leadership.146  These findings directly bear on admissions.  Admissions officials consider demonstrated leadership activity a plus factor in a student’s admissions file.  Because black students at predominantly white schools have lower likeability and leadership ratings than white students, white students are less likely to elect these students to precisely the kind of leadership positions (in, for example, student government) that admissions officials look for when they read applications.

*               *              *

This section began with a twofold question: Is there empirical evidence to support our contention that African Americans across class are vulnerable to the racial disadvantages we discussed in Part I, and is there evidence linking those disadvantages to critical aspects of an admissions file?  The answer, we have suggested, is “yes.”  To summarize: Empirical evidence reveals that (1) environmental cues impact how black students experience their institutional environments in ways that can compromise their academic performance and access to extracurricular activities and leadership roles; (2) stereotype threat negatively impacts black students’ performance on standardized test, grades, and overall intellectual engagement inside and outside the classroom; and (3) explicit and implicit biases potentially negatively impact everything from the way teachers grade and evaluate the work of black students, to whether and how they mentor and discipline black students, to whether teachers actively engage black students in class and/or encourage them to attend office hours, to the tone and substance of the letters of recommendations teachers write on behalf of black students, to whether teachers are responsive to black students’ questions or concerns, to whether they facilitate internships or educational-enhancing job opportunities for black students.

For reasons of analytical clarity, we discussed the foregoing racial disadvantages seriatim.  In fact, however, they mutually reinforce and amplify each other,147 creating an admissions scale that looks something like Figure 4:

Figure 4


As we explained earlier, we cannot articulate precisely how much the scales lean in the direction Figure 4 depicts.  And, note that, for the most part, we have focused on how whites are advantaged by black disadvantages.  We had said very little about white racial advantages per se.148  A significant dimension of our model is that black disadvantage appears as a thumb on the scale for whites.  We are largely agnostic on whether one should frame the imbalance Figure 4 represents in terms of white advantages, black disadvantages, or both.  Our broader project is to suggest that affirmative action does not enter an admissions world in which blacks and whites are competing on a level playing field.  To mix metaphors, the scales are already tipped in favor of whites.  That is precisely the imbalance affirmative action attempts to counteract.


Our goal in this Essay was to challenge the dominant framing of affirmative action as a racial preference that privileges blacks who are not disadvantaged.  We did so by highlighting the racial disadvantages African Americans across class experience up to and in the context of admissions.  We suggested that these disadvantages can diminish the overall competitiveness of an applicant’s admissions file.  Because affirmative action attempts to offset this negative effect, judges, policymakers, and the public at large should view the policy as a mechanism to level the playing field, not a racial preference.

We conclude by suggesting that part of the reason it is difficult for people to see affirmative action as a mechanism that levels the playing field for all African Americans is because the debate about affirmative action overstates the middle-class status of blacks.  Recall that one of the images of African Americans that opponents of affirmative action paint is of a person who is not racially disadvantaged but economically privileged. The representation of African Americans as class-privileged completely elides that black middle-class families are frequently far from economically secure—and generally not nearly as economically stable as average white middle-class families.

A recent report by Demos and the Institute for Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University highlights a significant “racial wealth gap” between whites and blacks.149  Across multiple dimensions along which families might accumulate wealth—homeownership/economic return on homeownership, educational attainment/economic return on educational attainment, income level/economic return on income, and inheritance—whites do better than African Americans.150

Moreover, the foregoing racial wealth gaps between whites and blacks transcend class.  For example, “for every $1 in wealth that accrues to median Black households associated with a higher income, median white households accrue $4.06.”151  Similarly, “for every $1 in wealth that accrues to Black families associated with a college degree at the median, White families accrue $11.49.”152

As with any study, the one from which we derive the preceding data is undoubtedly vulnerable to criticism.  But the broad findings of the research—that there is a meaningful wealth gap between whites and blacks that persists across class—is largely (if not entirely) uncontroversial.  All of this is to say, the black middle class and the white middle class are in very different economic positions.  The former is less economically secure than the latter.153

Yet opponents of affirmative action continue to paint the black middle class as economically privileged.  Some go so far as to treat black middle-class applicants to colleges and universities as if they were the children of President Obama.  Consider, for example, what Richard Kahlenberg has said about the black middle class: “But as President Obama has acknowledged, daughters like his—who have grown up with privilege—don’t need preferential consideration when applying to college.  Yet it is privileged minority students who are the center of Fisher vs. University of Texas II . . . .”154

Kahlenberg’s argument here is just one example in which critics of affirmative action sometimes employ “Sasha and Malia Obama as the poster children for privileged blacks who do not deserve to, but who are most likely to, benefit from current race-conscious affirmative action.”155   President Obama himself has been asked whether his children should benefit from affirmative action,156 as if that question is somehow relevant to whether the average black middle-class child should benefit from the policy.

It is hard to imagine a political debate about affirmative action, or educational policy more generally, in which the children of a white president are invoked to raise questions about the fairness of admissions for the rest of the country’s youth.  People would be quick to note that, with respect to privilege, those children are in an exceptional position vis-à-vis other children—and certainly few, if anyone, would employ a white president’s children to stand in for white middle-class applicants to colleges and universities.

Obama’s children, on the other hand, do stand in for black middle-class college applicants.  Notwithstanding that, in terms of privilege, the President’s daughters are obviously unrepresentative of African Americans as a whole, opponents of affirmative action continue to ask rhetorically whether Sasha and Malia should be beneficiaries of affirmative action.  The answer in the negative extends beyond Obama’s children.  It applies to black middle-class students writ large.  This is precisely why liberals and progressives must more forthrightly defend affirmative action for African Americans who are middle-class. Doing so both exposes the simplistic and inaccurate way in which opponents of affirmative action describe middle-class African Americans (for example, as the children of Obama) and provides an opportunity to explain why it is a mistake to conceptualize affirmative action as a racial preference.

Our hope is by providing a specific indication of the ways in which racial disadvantage transcends class in the context of admissions—even for middle-class black students—we have disrupted the foregoing dominant and misleading representations of race, class, and racism: the framing of black middle-class students as economically privileged, not racially disadvantaged, and the framing of affirmative action as reverse discrimination, not racial remediation.  These representations (in which liberals have acquiesced) have been normatively and doctrinally consequential.  They have made affirmative action less constitutionally secure and more difficult normatively to defend—and they have made white applicants to colleges and universities the underserving victims of racial discrimination and black applicants the underserving beneficiaries of racial preferences.

[1].        See  generally  Luke  Charles  Harris  &  Uma  Narayan,  Affirmative  Action  and  the  Myth  of  Preferential  Treatment:  A  Transformative  Critique  of  the  Terms  of  the  Affirmative  Action  Debate,  11  Harv.  BlackLetter  L.J.  1  (1994).    We  focus  on  African  Americans  in  this  Article  for  the  same  reasons  Harris  and  Narayan  do:  “[T]he  hostility  to,  and  the  ambivalence  about,  affirmative  action  policies  is  most  powerfully  articulated  in  the  context  of  discussions  about  race-based  policies  as  they  pertain  to  African  Americans.    We  think  that  it  is  easier  to  stereotype  these  policies  when  Blacks  are  viewed  as  their  principal  beneficiaries  .  .  .  .”    Id.  at  3.

[2].        See  Maurice  R.  Dyson,  De  Facto  Segregation  &  Group  Blindness:  Proposals  for  Narrow  Tailoring  Under  a  New  Viable  State  Interest  in  Pics  v.  Seattle  School  District,  77  UMKC  L.  Rev.  697,  737  (2009);  see  also  Michelle  Alexander,  The  New  Jim  Crow:  Mass  Incarceration  in  the  Age  of  Colorblindness  221–61  (2012);  Sheryll  Cashin,  Place,  Not  Race:  A  New  Vision  of  Opportunity  in  America  (2014);  Lisa  J.  Holmes,  Comment,  After  Grutter:  Ensuring  Diversity  in  K-12  Schools,  52  UCLA  L.  Rev.  563,  592–94  (2004);  Sharon  Hsin-Yi  Lee,  Comment,  Justifying  Affirmative  Action  in  K-12  Private  Schools,  23  Harv.  BlackLetter  L.J.  107,  125–26  (2007).

[3].        Though  Richard  Sander  is  not  the  first  person  to  articulate  the  theory  of  mismatch,  his  scholarship  in  the  area  has  arguably  garnered  the  most  traction.    See  generally  Richard  H.  Sander,  A  Systematic  Analysis  of  Affirmative  Action  in  American  Law  Schools,  57  Stan.  L.  Rev.  367  (2004);  Richard  Sander  &  Stuart  Taylor,  Jr.,  Mismatch:  How  Affirmative  Action  Hurts  Students  It’s  Intended  to  Help,  and  Why  Universities  Won’t  Admit  It  (2012).    There  is  a  fairly  broad  literature  criticizing  his  methodology.    See  generally  Ian  Ayres  &  Richard  Brooks,  Does  Affirmative  Action  Reduce  the  Number  of  Black  Lawyers?,  57  Stan.  L.  Rev.  1807  (2005);  David  L.  Chambers  et  al.,  The  Real  Impact  of  Eliminating  Affirmative  Action  in  American  Law  Schools:  An  Empirical  Critique  of  Richard  Sanders  Study,  57  Stan.  L.  Rev.  1855  (2005).

[4].        771  F.3d  274  (5th  Cir.  2014),  cert.  granted,  135  S.  Ct.  2888  (2015).

[5].        See  Brief  Amicus  Curiae  of  Gail  Heriot  and  Peter  N.  Kirsanow,  Members  of  the  United  States  Commission  on  Civil  Rights  in  Support  of  Petitioner,  Fisher  v.  Univ.  of  Tex.  at  Austin,  No.  14-981,  (U.S.  Sept.  9,  2015);  Brief  Amicus  Curiae  of  Pacific  Legal  Foundation  et  al.  in  Support  of  Petitioner,  Fisher  v.  Univ.  of  Tex.  at  Austin,  No.  14-981  (U.S.  Sept.  10,  2015).

[6].        See,  e.g.,  Cheryl  I.  Harris,  Fisher’s  Foibles:  From  Race  and  Class  to  Class  Not  Race,  64  UCLA  L.  Rev.  Disc.  (forthcoming  2016)

[7].        Cf.  Khalil  Gibrand  Muhammad,  The  Condemnation  of  Blackness:  Race,  Crime,  and  the  Making  of  Modern  Urban  America  (2010)  (discussing  the  ways  in  which  crime  is  written  into  race).

[8].        Id.  at  272  (“Nothing  in  the  world  is  easier  in  the  United  States  than  to  accuse  a  black  man  of  a  crime.”  (quoting  Du  Bois,  Negro  Editors  on  Communism,  Crisis  (1932))).

[9].        We  are  not  suggesting  that  proponents  of  mismatch  theory  are  necessarily  racist.    Our  claim  is  that  the  theory  helps  to  legitimize  and  further  entrench  a  pernicious  racial  stereotype  about  African  Americans.    For  a  review  of  the  literature  criticizing  mismatch  theory,  see  Richard  Lempert’s  essay  in  this  symposium.    Richard  Lempert,  Mismatch  Theory  in  an  Empirical  Light,  64  UCLA  L.  Rev.  Disc.  (forthcoming  2016).

[10].     See  Tung  Yin,  A  Carbolic  Smoke  Ball  for  the  Nineties:  Class-Based  Affirmative  Action,  31  Loy.  L.A.  L.  Rev.  213,  225  (1997).

[11].     One  might  also  ask  why  opponents  of  affirmative  action  frame  the  remedial  issue  as  though  it  involved  a  choice  between  racial  remediation  or  class  remediation.    On  this  point,  see  Cheryl  Harris’s  contribution  to  the  symposium.    Harris,  supra  note  6.    Sometime  opponents  of  race-based  affirmative  action  also  argue  that  class-based  affirmative  action  is  an  effective  mechanism  to  achieve  racial  diversity.    Bill  Kidder  explains  why  focusing  on  class  alone  will  fail  to  racially  diversify  colleges  and  universities.    William  C.  Kidder,  How  Workable  Are  Class-Based  and  Race-Neutral  Alternatives  at  Leading  American  Universities?,  64  UCLA  L.  Rev.  Disc.  (forthcoming  2016);  see  also  Liliana  M.  Garces,  Lessons  From  Social  Science  for  Kennedy’s  Doctrinal  Inquiry  in  Fisher  v.  University  of  Texas  II,  64  UCLA  L.  Rev.  Disc.  18  (2016)  (highlighting  the  diversity  costs  of  eliminating  affirmative  action).    One  might  also  ask  why  opponents  of  affirmative  action  rarely  criticize  legacy  admissions.    Generally,  students  who  are  legacy  admits  are  decidedly  privileged  and  take  advantage  of  having  a  generational  relationship  to  elite  colleges  and  universities.    And  what  about  class-privileged  whites  more  generally?    Why  don’t  opponents  of  affirmative  action  target  them?    After  all,  their  private  school  trajectories  are  often  gateways  to  America’s  most  prestigious  universities.

[12].     Harris  &  Narayan,  supra  note  1,  at  7.

[13].     Whites,  on  the  other  hand,  are  presumptively  neither.    The  most  salient  image  of  whites  in  the  affirmative  action  debate  is  as  innocent  victims  of  reverse  discrimination.

[14].     Of  course,  African  Americans  of  all  class  backgrounds  are  included  in  the  diversity  rationale  for  affirmative  action.    Our  point  is  that  proponents  of  affirmative  action  rarely  expressly  name  and  defend  African  Americans  who  are  not  class  disadvantaged  as  beneficiaries  of  the  policy.

[15].     See  Kermit  Roosevelt  IIIThe  Ironies  of  Affirmative  Action,  17  U.  Pa.  J.  Const.  L.  729,  750  n.65  (2015).

[16].     See  generally  Regents  of  the  Univ.  of  Cal.  v.  Bakke,  438  U.S.  265  (1978)  (Powell,  J.,  concurring)  (suggesting  that  diversity  is  a  compelling  state  interest  for  affirmative  action  because  diversity  contributes  to  the  “robust  exchange  of  ideas”).

[17].     David  S.  Schwartz,  The  Case  of  the  Vanishing  Protected  Class:  Reflections  on  Reverse  Discrimination,  Affirmative  Action,  and  Racial  Balancing,  2000  Wis.  L.  Rev.  657  (2000).    But  see  Devon  W.  Carbado  &  Cheryl  I.  Harris,  The  New  Racial  Preferences,  96  Calif.  L.  Rev.  1139  (2008)  (explaining  how  the  formal  commitment  to  colorblindness  in  the  context  of  admissions  produces  racial  preferences).

[18].     Though  we  do  not  develop  the  intraracial  diversity  argument  here,  we  think  it  is  important  to  make  clear  that  it  is  a  significant  benefit  of  affirmative  action  programs.    See  generally  Devon  W.  Carbado,  Intraracial  Diversity,  60  UCLA  L.  Rev.  1130  (2013);  Vinay  Harpalani,  Diversity  Within  Racial  Groups  and  the  Constitutionality  of  Race-Conscious  Admissions,  15  U.  Pa.  J.  Const.  L.  463  (2012);  Elise  Boddie,  Commentary  on  Fisher:  The  Importance  of  Diversity  Within  Diversity,  SCOTUSblog  (Oct.  11,  2012,  10:50  AM),  [].

[19].     See  infra  Part  I.

[20].     See  Regents  of  the  Univ.  of  Cal.  v.  Bakke,  438  U.S.  265,  314  (1978)  (plurality  opinion)  (“[T]he  interest  of  diversity  is  compelling  in  the  context  of  a  university's  admissions  program  .  .  .  .”);  see  also  Grutter  v.  Bollinger,  539  U.S.  306,  329  (2003)  (“Our  conclusion  that  the  Law  School  has  a  compelling  interest  in  a  diverse  student  body  is  informed  by  our  view  that  attaining  a  diverse  student  body  is  at  the  heart  of  the  Law  School's  proper  institutional  mission  .  .  .  .”).

[21].     See  infra  Part  I.

[22].     It  bears  mentioning  that  Justice  Powell  explicitly  rejects  social  discrimination  as  a  justification  for  affirmative  action.    Bakke,  438  U.S.  at  310  (“[T]he  purpose  of  helping  certain  groups  whom  the  faculty  of  the  Davis  Medical  School  perceived  as  victims  of  ‘societal  discrimination’  does  not  justify  a  classification  that  imposes  disadvantages  upon  persons  like  respondent,  who  bear  no  responsibility  for  whatever  harm  the  beneficiaries  of  the  special  admissions  program  are  thought  to  have  suffered.”).

[23].     See  generally  Fisher  v.  Univ.  of  Tex.  at  Austin,  133  S.  Ct.  2411  (2013).

[24].     Transcript  of  Oral  Argument  at  43–44,  Fisher  v.  Univ.  of  Tex.  at  Austin,  133  S.  Ct.  2411  (2013)  (No.  11-345).

[25].     Id.  at  43.    The  caveat  is  that  if  a  university  admits  that  it  engaged  in  intentional  discrimination  in  the  past  against  a  particular  group,  that  institution  may  use  that  “identified  discrimination”  as  a  remedial  justification  for  affirmative  action.    See  Bakke,  438  U.S.  at  309,  343.

[26].     See  generally  William  Julius  Wilson,  The  Truly  Disadvantaged:  The  Inner  City,  The  Underclass,  and  Public  Policy  (2d  ed.  2012).

[27].     Transcript  of  Oral  Argument  at  60,  Fisher  v.  Univ.  of  Tex.  at  Austin,  133  S.  Ct.  2411  (2013)  (No.  11-345).

[28].     See  generally  Neil  Gotanda,  A  Critique  of  “Our  Constitution  is  Color-Blind”,  44  Stan.  L.  Rev.  1  (1991)  (linking  the  Supreme  Court’s  colorblind  approach  to  race  to  biological  notions  of  race);  Carbado  &  Harris,  supra  note  17  (same);  Ian  F.  Haney  López,  The  Social  Construction  of  Race:  Some  Observations  on  Illusion,  Fabrication,  and  Choice,  29  Harv.  C.R.-C.L.  L.  Rev.  1  (1994).

[29].     See  Brief  Amicus  Curiae  of  Kimberly  West-Faulcon  in  Support  of  Respondents,  Fisher  v.  Univ.  of  Tex.  at  Austin,  No.  14-981  (U.S.  Nov.  2,  2015)  (challenging  the  idea  of  a  “black  bonus”).

[30].     See  Lilly  v.  City  of  Beckley,  615  F.  Supp.  137,  140  (S.D.  W.  Va.  1985).

[31].     See  Richard  D.  Kahlenberg,  The  Remedy:  Class,  Race,  and  Affirmative  Action  xxiii–xxiv  (1996);  see  also  Valerie  Strauss,  On  Charles  Murray,  the  Black  Lawyer’s  Son,  the  White  Plumber’s  Son  and  College  Admissions,  Wash.  Post  (Mar.  8,  2012),
odczR_blog.html  [].

[32].     We  do  not  mean  that  critics  of  affirmative  action  are,  across  the  board,  unconcerned  about  working-class  and  poor  whites.    Our  point  is  that  concerns  about  poor  whites  are  often  rehearsed  in  the  context  of  (but  not  outside  of)  debates  about  affirmative  action  and  other  forms  of  racial  remediation.    See  Richard  D.  Kahlenberg,  Class-Based  Affirmative  Action,  84  Calif.  L.  Rev.  1037,  1038,  1061  (1996)  (discussing  the  benefit  of  socioeconomic  affirmative  action  over  “toxic  .  .  .  biological  preference[s]”  like  race  or  gender;  “[w]hereas  a  racial  preference  will  unfairly  benefit  Bill  Cosby’s  offspring  over  the  son  of  a  white  sanitation  worker,  class  preferences  help  those  who  need  it”).    The  majority  of  Kahlenberg’s  work  that  discusses  white  poverty  only  does  so  in  criticism  of  race-based  affirmative  action  policies.    Work  that  explores  the  ways  poor  whites  are  ignored  often  does  not  come  from  vocal  critics  of  affirmative  action,  and  is  still  written  in  contrast  to  ameliorative  programs  that  seek  to  alleviate  poverty  for  people  of  color.    See  Leonard  Pitts  Jr.,  White  Poverty  Exists,  Ignored,  Miami  Herald  (Oct.  5,  2014,  8:49  AM),  [];  see  also  Pablo  Eisenberg,  Poverty  Among  Whites  Demands  Philanthropys  Attention,  Chron.  Philanthropy  (Sept.  3,  2015),  [].

[33].     Importantly,  African  American  liberals,  and  not  just  conservative  whites,  sometimes  articulate  this  view.    See  Cashin,  supra  note  2;  see  also  Mark  Finkelstein,  Henry  Louis  Gates:  End  Affirmative  Action  for  Affluent  African-AmericansMRC  NewsBusters  (Oct.  22,  2013,  9:18  AM),  []  (“I  think  that  for  a  lot  of  reasons,  political  and  also  practical  and  economic,  we  should  think  about  affirmative  action  for  the  poor.    And  I  grew  up  in  West  Virginia  with  poor  white  people.    They  need  affirmative  action  as  much  as  my  people  do.    And  I  think  it  would  be  a  savvy  thing  to  reconsider.    Also  I'm  upper  middle  class.    My  daughters  were  born  at  the  Yale-New  Haven  hospital.    They  have  a  privileged  life.    Do  they  really  need  to  benefit  from  affirmative  action?    Affirmative  action  was  a  class  escalator  when  I  went  to  Yale,  and  I  think  it  still  should  be.    So  I  want  to  get  more  more  [sic]  poor  black  people  into  the  middle  class  and  I  want  to  get  more  poor  white  people  in  the  middle  class  as  well.”  (quoting  Henry  Louis  Gates  on  Morning  Joe  (MSNBC  television  broadcast  Oct.  22,  2013))).

[34].     See  generally  Stephan  Thernstrom  &  Abigail  Thernstrom,  America  in  Black  and  White:  One  Nation,  Indivisible  (1997).

[35]..    See  Jason  Irizarry,  Cultural  Deficit  Model,  (Dec.  23,  2009),  [].

[36].     See  Katherine  Y.  Barnes,  Is  Affirmative  Action  Responsible  for  the  Achievement  Gap  Between  Black  and  White  Law  Students?,  101  Nw.  U.  L.  Rev.  1759,  1763  (2007).

[37]..    See  Albert  G.  Mosley  &  Nicholas  Capaldi,  Affirmative  Action:  Social  Justice  or  Unfair  Preference?  122  (1996).

[38].     See  Devon  Carbado  &  Mitu  Gulati,  Acting  White?:  Rethinking  Race  in  “Post  Racial”  America  1–2  (2013).

[39].     See  Dinesh  D’Souza,  The  End  of  Racism:  Principles  for  a  Multiracial  Society  xxv–xxvi  (1995).

[40].     See  D’Souza,  supra  note  39,  at  xxv–xxvi.

[41].     Even  President  Obama  encouraged  black  students  not  to  associate  studying  with  “acting  white.”    See  Ivory  A.  Toldson,  The  Acting  White  Theory’  Doesnt  Add  Up,  Root  (Jan.  30,  2013)
_achievement_based_on_other_factors.html [].

[42].     See  generally  Robert  S.  Chang,  Toward  an  Asian  American  Legal  Scholarship:  Critical  Race  Theory,  Post-Structuralism,  and  Narrative  Space,  81  Calif.  L.  Rev.  1241  (1993)  (defining  as  dominant  culture’s  perception  that  minority  group  achieves  a  higher  degree  of  socioeconomic  success,  allowing  it  to  justify  ignoring  the  unique  discrimination  faced  by  that  group).

[43].     There  is  literature  contesting  the  very  idea  of  merit,  particularly  the  association  between  merit  and  standardized  tests.    See  Lani  Gunier,  Reframing  the  Affirmative  Action  Debate,  86  Ky.  L.J.  505,  511–13  (1998)  (providing  examples  of  how  the  “SAT,  the  LSAT,  and  the  GRE”  are  “coachable  tests”  and  revealing  that  “[e]xamples  like  these  show  clearly  that  we’re  using  certain  aptitude  tests  to  credentialize  a  social  oligarchy  and  we’re  mistakenly  calling  it  merit”);  Harris  &  Narayan,  Affirmative  Action  and  the  Myth  of  Preferential  Treatment,  supra  note  1  (arguing  that  the  “transition  to  greater  inclusiveness  has  provoked,  among  other  things,  some  rethinking  about  the  traditional  criteria  of  ‘merit’  for  admission  to  and  promotion  within  various  American  institutions,  and  some  reexamination  of  assessment  procedures  once  thought  to  be  unquestionably  ‘neutral’”);  Daria  Roithmayr,  Deconstructing  the  Distinction  Between  Bias  and  Merit,  10  La  Raza  L.J.  363,  366–67  (1998)  (observing  that  merit  has  been  conceptualized  as  “ahistorical,  objective  measures  of  ability,”  and  arguing  that  this  understanding  of  merit  obscures  that  “what  constitutes  ability  itself  is  subjective  and  constructed  under  particular  historical  circumstances  by  particular  social  groups;”).    See  generally  Lani  Guinier,  The  Tyranny  of  Meritocracy:  Democratizing  Higher  Education  in  America  (2015)  (challenging  the  ways  in  which  standardized  testing  stands  in  for  merit);  Phoebe  A.  Haddon  &  Deborah  W.  Post,  Misuse  and  Abuse  of  the  LSAT:  Making  the  Case  for  Alternative  Evaluative  Efforts  and  a  Redefinition  of  Merit,  80  St.  John’s  L.  Rev.  41  (2006)  (focusing  specifically  on  the  LSAT);  Charles  R.  Lawrence  IIITwo  Views  of  the  River:  A  Critique  of  the  Liberal  Defense  of  Affirmative  Action,  101  Colum.  L.  Rev.  928  (2001).

[44].     See  Erika  Frankenberg  et  al.,  The  Civil  Rights  Project,  Harvard  Univ.,  A  Multiracial  Society  With  Segregated  Schools:  Are  We  Losing  the  Dream?  (2003);  see  also  John  Kucsera  &  Gary  Orfield,  The  Civil  Rights  Project,  UCLA.,  New  York  State’s  Extreme  School  Segregation:  Inequality,  Inaction  and  a  Damaged  Future  (2014).

[45].     See  Cheryl  I.  Harris,  Whiteness  as  Property,  106  Harv.  L.  Rev.  1707,  1709  (1993);  see  also  Ian  Haney  López,  White  by  Law:  The  Legal  Construction  of  Race  (10th  ed.  2006).

[46].     See  Camille  Gear  Rich,  Marginal  Whiteness,  98  Calif.  L.  Rev.  1497  (2010).

[47].     See  generally  Frances  E.  Aboud,  The  Formation  of  In-Group  Favoritism  and  Out-Group  Prejudice  in  Young  Children:  Are  They  Distinct  Attitudes?,  39  Developmental  Psychol.  48  (2003);  Marilynn  B.  Brewer,  The  Psychology  of  Prejudice:  Ingroup  Love  or  Outgroup  Hate?,  55  J.  Soc.  Issues  429  (1999);  Miles  Hewstone  et  al.,  Intergroup  Bias,  53  Ann.  Rev.  Psychol.  575  (2002).

[48].     See  Marilynn  B.  Brewer  &  Donald  T.  Campbell,  Ethnocentrism  and  Intergroup  Attitudes:  East  African  Evidence  85  (1976);  Brewer,  supra  note  47,  at  432;  Marilynn  B.  Brewer,  In-Group  Bias  in  the  Minimal  Intergroup  Situation:  A  Cognitive-Motivational  Analysis,  86  Psychol.  Bull.  307  (1979);  Anthony  G.  Greenwald  &  Thomas  F.  Pettigrew,  With  Malice  Toward  None  and  Charity  for  Some:  Ingroup  Favoritism  Enables  Discrimination,  69  Am.  Psychologist  669  (2014).

[49].     See  Samuel  Gaertner  &  Leonard  Bickman,  Effects  of  Race  on  the  Elicitation  of  Helping  Behavior:  The  Wrong  Number  Technique,  20  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  218  (1971);  Donald  A.  Saucier  et  al.,  Differences  in  Helping  Whites  and  Blacks:  A  Meta-Analysis,  9  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  Rev.  2  (2005).

[50].     See  Ian  Ayres  et  al.,  To  Insure  Prejudice:  Racial  Disparities  in  Taxicab  Tipping,  114  Yale  L.J.  1613  (2005);  Michael  Lynn  et  al.,  Consumer  Racial  Discrimination  in  Tipping:  A  Replication  and  Extension,  38  J.  Applied  Soc.  Psychol.  1045  (2008).

[51].     See  Lauren  A.  Rivera,  Pedigree:  How  Elite  Students  Get  Elite  Jobs  (2015);  Margery  Austin  Turner  et  al.,  Discrimination  in  Metropolitan  Housing  Markets:  National  Results  from  Phase  I  HDS  (2002);  Marc  Bendick  Jr.  et  al.,  Employment  Discrimination  in  Upscale  Restaurants:  Evidence  From  Matched  Pair  Testing,  47  Soc.  Sci.  J.  802  (2010).

[52].     Harris  &  Narayan,  supra  note  1,  at  25.

[53].     See  Kimberly  West-Faulcon,  Forsaking  Claims  of  Merit:  The  Advance  of  Race  Blindness  Entitlement  in  Fisher  v.  Texas,  in  29  Nat’l  Lawyers  Guild,  Civil  Rights  Litigation  and  Attorney  Fees  Annual  Handbook  335  (Steven  Saltzman  &  Cheryl  I.  Harris  eds.,  2013)  (analyzing  the  percentage  representation  of  African  Americans  in  University  of  Texas’s  2008  admissions  pool);  Kimberly  West-Faulcon,  Obscuring  “Asian  Penalty”  With  Illusions  of  “Black  Bonus”,  64  UCLA  L.  Rev.  Disc.  (forthcoming  2016).    West-Faulcon’s  work  builds  on  an  earlier  effort  by  Goodwin  Liu  that  demonstrated  the  diminished  effect  affirmative  action  has  on  white  applicants.    See  Goodwin  Liu,  The  Causation  Fallacy:  Bakke  and  the  Basic  Arithmetic  of  Selective  Admissions,  100  Mich.  L.  Rev.  1045  (2002).

[54].     See  generally  Sherick  Hughes  et  al,  Causation  Fallacy  2.0:  Revisiting  the  Myth  and  Math  of  Affirmative  Action,  30  Educ.  Pol’y  63  (2016).

[55].     Id.

[56].     We  should  be  clear  to  note  that  we  do  not  present  Figure  7  as  an  empirical  claim  but  as  heuristic  device  to  demonstrate  the  minimal  (potentially  at  most  1  percent)  impact  of  affirmative  action  on  whites.    Note,  for  example,  that  the  schematic  does  not  reference  Asian  Americans  who  have  a  very  robust  presence  in  the  admissions  pools  of  elite  colleges  and  universities.    Indeed,  some  opponents  of  affirmative  action  argue  that  there  is  a  disconnect  between  the  qualification  of  Asian  Americans  and  their  percentage  representation  in  admissions  pools  and  the  rate  at  which  elite  colleges  and  universities  admit  them.    The  claim,  more  specifically,  is  that  affirmative  action  functions  as  a  “penalty”  for  Asian  Americans.    See  West-Faulcon,  supra  note  53  (discussing  this  issue).    It  is  beyond  the  scope  of  our  Article  to  engage  this  Asian  penalty  claim.    We  deploy  Figure  6  to  discuss  the  impact  of  affirmative  action  on  whites.

[57].     See  Carbado  &  Gulati,  supra  note  38.

[58].     See  generally,  e.g.,  Claude  M.  Steele,  A  Threat  in  the  Air:  How  Stereotypes  Shape  Intellectual  Identity  and  Performance,  52  Am.  Psychologist  613  (1997);  Claude  M.  Steele  &  Joshua  Aronson,  Stereotype  Threat  and  the  Intellectual  Test  Performance  of  African  Americans,  69  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  797  (1995).    For  a  recent  review,  see  generally  Steven  J.  Spencer  et  al.,  Stereotype  Threat,  67  Ann.  Rev.  Psychol.  415  (2016).

[59].     For  other  discussions  of  how  stereotype  threat  is  implicated  in  debates  about  affirmative  action,  see  generally  Rachel  D.  Godsil,  Why  Race  Matters  in  Physics  Class,  64  UCLA  L.  Rev.  Disc.  40  (2016);  Jerry  Kang  &  Mahzarin  Banaji,  Fear  Measures:  A  Behavorial  Realist  Revision  of  Affirmative  Action,  94  Cal.  L.  Rev  1063  (2006).

[60].     See,  e.g.,  David  M.  Amodio  &  Patricia  G.  Devine,  Stereotyping  and  Evaluation  in  Implicit  Race  Bias:  Evidence  for  Independent  Constructs  and  Unique  Effects  on  Behavior,  91  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  654,  654–55  (2006)  (demonstrating  that  people  hold  significant  levels  of  implicit  stereotypes  of  Blacks  as  unintelligent,  athletic,  and  rhythmic);  Lei  Guo  &  Summer  Harlow,  User-Generated  Racism:  An  Analysis  of  Stereotypes  of  African  Americans,  Latinos,  and  Asians  in  YouTube  Videos,  25  Howard  J.  Comm.  291,  291–92  (2014)  (showing  that  61%  of  most-viewed  YouTube  videos  referencing  Blacks,  Latinos,  or  Asians  contained  stereotypes  about  Blacks,  and  that  21%  of  these  videos  included  stereotypes  about  Blacks  as  unintelligent  or  uneducated);  Paul  Verhaeghen  et  al.,  Prime  and  Prejudice:  Co-Occurrence  in  the  Culture  as  a  Source  of  Automatic  Stereotype  Priming,  50  Brit.  J.  Soc.  Psychol.  501,  506  (2011)  (examining  the  strength  of  association  between  various  identity  groups  and  stereotypic  traits  and  finding  strong  associations  between  “Black”  and  “ignorant”  and  “lazy,”  among  others).

[61].     See  Jenessa  R.  Shapiro  &  Steven  L.  Neuberg,  From  Stereotype  Threat  to  Stereotype  Threats:  Implications  of  a  Multi-Threat  Framework  for  Causes,  Moderators,  Mediators,  Consequences,  and  Interventions,  11  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  Rev.  107,  112–13  (2007).

[62].     Such  stress  can  be  observed  even  at  the  physiological  level.    See  generally  Jim  Blascovich  et  al.,  African  Americans  and  High  Blood  Pressure:  The  Role  of  Stereotype  Threat,  12  Psychol.  Sci.  225  (2001).

[63].     See,  e.g.,  Sapna  Cheryan  et  al.,  Ambient  Belonging:  How  Stereotypical  Cues  Impact  Gender  Participation  in  Computer  Science,  97  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  1045  (2009);  Jennifer  A.  Mangels  et  al.,  Emotion  Blocks  the  Path  to  Learning  Under  Stereotype  Threat,  7  Soc.  Cognitiive  &  Affective  Neuroscience  230  (2012);  Robert  J.  Rydell  et  al.,  Stereotype  Threat  Prevents  Perceptual  Learning,  107  Proc.  Nat’l  Acad.  Sci.  14042  (2010);  Valerie  Jones  Taylor  &  Gregory  M.  Walton,  Stereotype  Threat  Undermines  Academic  Learning,  37  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  Bull.  1055  (2011).

[64].     Sian  L.  Beilock  et  al.,  More  on  the  Fragility  of  Performance:  Choking  Under  Pressure  in  Mathematical  Problem  Solving,  133  J.  Experimental  Psychol.  584  (2004)  (discussing  how  a  high  pressure  to  achieve  on  a  math  exam  can  lead  individuals  to  “choke”—perform  poorly  compared  to  actual  ability—because,  under  pressure,  they  anxiously  over-monitor  each  component  of  their  behavior  and  thoughts,  which  interferes  with  automated  processes  and  dramatically  increases  working  memory  load,  harming  performance);  Sian  L.  Beilock  et  al.,  On  the  Causal  Mechanisms  of  Stereotype  Threat:  Can  Skills  That  Don’t  Rely  Heavily  on  Working  Memory  Still  Be  Threatened?,  32  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  Bull.  1059  (2006)  (following  their  2004  study,  cited  immediately  above,  Beilock  and  colleagues  ran  two  experiments  on  the  nature  of  performance  impairment  under  stereotype  threat,  and  found  that  stereotype  threat  resulted  in  the  same  increase  in  over-monitoring  as  choking  under  pressure);  Sian  L.  Beilock  et  al.,  Stereotype  Threat  and  Working  Memory:  Mechanisms,  Alleviation,  and  Spillover,  136  J.  Experimental  Psychol.  256  (2007)  (elaborating  on  the  mechanism  outlined  in  the  two  previously  cited  studies  by  showing  that  stereotype  threat  negatively  affects  performance  on  tasks  relying  on  working  memory  resources  due  to  its  taxation  of  cognitive  resources);  Jean-Claude  Croizet  et  al.,  Stereotype  Threat  Undermines  Intellectual  Performance  by  Triggering  a  Disruptive  Mental  Load,  30  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  Bull.  721  (2004)  (finding  that  the  activation  of  stereotypes  about  intellectual  inferiority  heightened  cognitive  workload,  as  measured  by  heart  rate  variability,  and  disrupted  performance  on  a  test);  Michael  Johns  et  al.,  Stereotype  Threat  and  Executive  Resource  Depletion:  Examining  the  Influence  of  Emotion  Regulation,  137  J.  Experimental  Psychol.  691  (2008)  (expanding  on  the  previously  cited  research  by  finding  that  the  increased  cognitive  load  was  specifically  driven  by  attempts  to  regulate  emotions,  such  as  anxiety,  depleting  executive  resources,  and  suppressing  performance);  Toni  Schmader  &  Michael  Johns,  Converging  Evidence  That  Stereotype  Threat  Reduces  Working  Memory  Capacity,  85  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  440  (2003)  (conducting  one  of  the  earliest  studies  to  show  that  the  negative  effect  of  stereotype  threat  on  exam  performance  was  mediated  by  increased  cognitive  load  that  reduced  students’  working  memory  capacity).

[65].     For  meta-analyses  on  this  subject,  see  Hannah-Hanh  D.  Nguyen  &  Ann  Marie  Ryan,  Does  Stereotype  Threat  Affect  Test  Performance  of  Minorities  and  Women?  A  Meta-Analysis  of  Experimental  Evidence,  93  J.  Applied  Psychol.  1314  (2008);  Gregory  M.  Walton  &  Steven  J.  Spencer,  Latent  Ability  Grades  and  Test  Scores  Systematically  Underestimate  the  Intellectual  Ability  of  Negatively  Stereotyped  Students,  20  Psychol.  Sci.  1132  (2009).

[66].     See  generally,  for  example,  the  aforementioned  meta-analysis  by  Nguyen  &  Ryan,  supra  note  65,  which  identified  151  empirical  reports  on  the  effects  of  stereotype  threat.

[67].     Claude  M.  Steele  &  Joshua  Aronson,  Stereotype  Threat  and  the  Intellectual  Test  Performance  of  African  Americans,  69  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  797  (1995).

[68].     Sean  F.  Reardon  et  al.,  Effects  of  the  California  High  School  Exit  Exam  on  Student  Persistence,  Achievement,  and  Graduation  (Stanford  Univ.  Inst.  for  Research  on  Educ.  Policy  &  Practice,  Working  Paper  No.  2009-12.  2009).

[69].     See,  e.g.,  Geoffrey  L.  Cohen  et  al.,  Recursive  Processes  in  Self-Affirmation:  Intervening  to  Close  the  Minority  Achievement  Gap,  324  Sci.  400  (2009);  Geoffrey  L.  Cohen  et  al.,  Reducing  the  Racial  Achievement  Gap:  A  Social  Psychological  Intervention,  313  Sci.  1307  (2006).

[70].     See,  e.g.,  Gregory  M.  Walton  &  Steven  J.  Spencer,  Latent  Ability:  Grades  and  Test  Scores  Systematically  Underestimate  the  Intellectual  Ability  of  Negatively  Stereotyped  Students,  20  Psychol.  Sci.  1132  (2009)  (finding  that  stereotype  threat  accounted  for  a  score  reduction  of  just  under  one  fifth  of  a  standard  deviation  (approximately  0.18)  for  negatively  stereotyped  students.    Given  that  one  standard  deviation  of  the  past  year’s  SAT  was  351  points  across  all  three  sections  of  the  exam,  losing  0.18  of  a  standard  deviation  to  stereotype  threat  would  be  the  equivalent  of  a  sixty-three  point  loss).

[71].     This  is  almost  certainly  a  conservative  estimate  because  this  research  took  place  in  the  students’  classrooms,  an  uncontrolled  field  setting  where  no  experimental  exercise  can  eliminate  stereotype  threat  or  its  effects  completely.

[72].     Walton  &  Spencer,  supra  note  70.

[73].     See  e.g.,  Marie  Mazerolle  et  al.,  Stereotype  Threat  Strengthens  Automatic  Recall  and  Undermines  Controlled  Processes  in  Older  Adults,  23  Psychol.  Sci.  723  (2012).

[74].     See  e.g.,  Beilock  et  al,,  supra  note  64,  at  257;  Michael  Johns  et  al.,  Knowing  Is  Half  the  Battle:  Teaching  Stereotype  Threat  as  a  Means  of  Improving  Women’s  Math  Performance,  16  Psychol.  Sci.  175  (2005);  Nguyen  &  Ryan,  supra  note  65;  Toni  Schmader,  Gender  Identification  Moderates  Stereotype  Threat  Effects  on  Women’s  Math  Performance,  38  J.  Experimental  Soc.  Psychol.  194  (2002).

[75].     See  Nai  Chi  Jonathan  Yeung  &  Courtney  von  Hippel,  Stereotype  Threat  Increases  the  Likelihood  That  Female  Drivers  in  a  Simulator  Run  Over  Jaywalkers,  40  Accident  Analysis  &  Prevention  667  (2008).

[76].     Jeff  Stone  et  al.,    Stereotype  Threat  Effects  on  Black  and  White  Athletic  Performance,  77  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  1213,  1216–20  (1999).

[77].     Joshua  Aronson  et  al.,  When  White  Men  Can’t  Do  Math:  Necessary  and  Sufficient  Factors  in  Stereotype  Threat,  35  J.  Experimental  Soc.  Psychol.  29,  32–35  (1999).

[78].     Cheryl  R.  Kaiser  &  Nao  Hagiwara,  Gender  Identification  Moderates  Social  Identity  Threat  Effects  on  Working  Memory,  35  Psychol.  Women  Q.  243  (2011).

[79].     See  generally  Cheryan  et  al.,  supra  note  63;  Michael  Inzlicht  &  Talia  Ben-Zeev,  A  Threatening  Intellectual  Environment:  Why  Females  Are  Susceptible  to  Experiencing  Problem-Solving  Deficits  in  the  Presence  of  Males,  11  Psychol.  Sci.  365  (2000);  Charles  G.  Lord  &  Delia  S.  Saenz,  Memory  Deficits  and  Memory  Surfeits:  Differential  Cognitive  Consequences  of  Tokenism  for  Tokens  and  Observers,  49  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  918  (1985);  Mary  C.  Murphy  et  al.,  Signaling  Threat:  How  Situational  Cues  Affect  Women  in  Math,  Science,  and  Engineering  Settings,  18  Psychol.  Sci.  879  (2007);  Valerie  Purdie-Vaughns  et  al.,  Social  Identity  Contingencies:  How  Diversity  Cues  Signal  Threat  or  Safety  for  African  Americans  in  Mainstream  Institutions,  94  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  615  (2008).

[80].     See  Inzlicht  &  Ben-Zeev,  supra  note  79;  Denise  Sekaquaptewa  &  Mischa  Thompson,  Solo  Status,  Stereotype  Threat,  and  Performance  Expectancies:  Their  Effects  on  Women’s  Performance,  39  J.  Experimental  Soc.  Psychol.  68  (2003);  Denise  Sekaquaptewa  &  Mischa  Thompson,  The  Differential  Effects  of  Solo  Status  on  Members  of  High-and  Low-Status  Groups,  28  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  Bull.  694,  701–04  (2002),  [hereinafter  Sekaquaptewa  &  Thompson,  2002];  Mischa  Thompson  &  Denise  Sekaquaptewa,  When  Being  Different  Is  Detrimental:  Solo  Status  and  the  Performance  of  Women  and  Racial  Minorities,  2  Analyses  Soc.  Issues  &  Pub.  Pol’y  183  (2002).

[81].     See  Markus  Appel  &  Nicole  Kronberger,  Stereotypes  and  the  Achievement  Gap:  Stereotype  Threat  Prior  to  Test  Taking,  24  Educ.  Psychol.  Rev.  609,  624–25  (2012);  Markus  Appel  et  al.,  Stereotype  Threat  Impairs  Ability  Building:  Effects  on  Test  Preparation  Among  Women  in  Science  and  Technology,  41  Eur.  J.  Soc.  Psychol.  904  (2011);  Mangels  et  al.,  supra  note  63;  Rydell  et  al.,  supra  note  63;  Taylor  &  Walton,  supra  note  63.

[82].     Stereotype  threat  can  have  further  downstream  effects  as  well,  leading  to  the  avoidance  of  academically  oriented  careers  or  even  dropping  out  of  school  altogether.    See  Claude  M.  Steele,  Race  and  the  Schooling  of  Black  Americans,  Atlantic  (Apr.  1992),  [].

[83].     Appel  &  Kronberger,  supra  note  81;  Taylor  &  Walton,  supra  note  63.

[84].     See  generally  Daniel  Katz  &  Kenneth  W.  Braly,  Racial  Prejudice  and  Racial  Stereotypes,  30  J.  Abnormal  &  Soc.  Psychol.  175  (1935);  Daniel  Katz  &  Kenneth  Braly,  Racial  Stereotypes  of  One  Hundred  College  Students,  28  J.  Abnormal  &  Soc.  Psychol.  280  (1933).

[85].     Gordon  W.  Allport,  Attitudesin  A  Handbook  of  Social  Psychology  798,  798–844  (Carl  Murchison  ed.,  1935);  Anthony  G.  Greenwald  &  Mahzarin  R.  Banaji,  Implicit  Social  Cognition:  Attitudes,  Self-Esteem,  and  Stereotypes,  102  Psychol.  Rev.  4  (1995).

[86].     Associated  Press,  AP  Poll:  U.S.  Majority  Have  Prejudice  Against  BlacksUSA  Today  (Oct.  27,  2012,  8:37  AM),
27/poll-black-prejudice-america/1662067/  [].

[87].     See  Michael  Tesler  &  David  O.  Sears,  Obama’s  Race:  The  2008  Election  and  the  Dream  of  a  Post-Racial  America  18  (Benjamin  I.  Page  et  al.  eds.,  2010).    For  additional  conceptualizations  of  this  more  recent  form  of  racism,  see  also  Donald  R.  Kinder  &  Lynn  M.  Sanders,  Divided  by  Color:  Racial  Politics  and  Democratic  Ideals  (1996);  Lawrence  Bobo  et  al.,  Laissez-Faire  Racism:  The  Crystallization  of  a  Kinder,  Gentler,  Antiblack  Ideologyin  Racial  Attitudes  in  the  1990s:  Continuity  and  Change  15,  15–42  (Steven  A.  Tuch  &  Jack  K.  Martin  eds.,  1997);  Samuel  L.  Gaertner  &  John  F.  Dovidio,  The  Aversive  Form  of  Racismin  Prejudice,  Discrimination,  and  Racism  61,  61–89  (John  F.  Dovidio  &  Samuel  L.  Gaertner  eds.,  1986);  John  B.  McConahay,  Modern  Racism,  Ambivalence,  and  the  Modern  Racism  Scalein  Prejudice,  Discrimination,  and  Racism  91,  91–125  (John  F.  Dovidio  &  Samuel  L.  Gaertner  eds.,  1986).

[88].     See  Donald  R.  Kinder  &  Tali  Mendelberg,  Individualism  Reconsidered:  Principles  and  Prejudice  in  Contemporary  American  Opinionin  Racialized  Politics:  The  Debate  About  Racism  in  America  44,  44–74  (David  O.  Sears  et  al.  eds.,  2000).

[89].     See  P.J.  Henry  &  David  O.  Sears,  The  Symbolic  Racism  2000  Scale,  23  Pol.  Psychol.  253,  254  (2002).

[90].     For  example,  an  individual  with  symbolically  racist  beliefs  might  agree  with  statements  such  as,  “It’s  really  a  matter  of  some  people  not  trying  hard  enough;  if  blacks  would  only  try  harder  they  could  be  just  as  well  off  as  whites,”  and  disagree  with  statements  such  as,  “Generations  of  slavery  and  discrimination  have  created  conditions  that  make  it  difficult  for  blacks  to  work  their  way  out  of  the  lower  class.”    See  Henry  &  Sears,  supra  note  89,  at  279.

[91].     For  example,  arguments  against  forms  of  racial  remediation  employing  symbolic  racism  may  include  “Welfare  cheats  could  find  work  if  they  tried,”  “Blacks  should  not  be  given  a  status  they  have  not  earned,”  and  “Whites  have  worked  hard  for  their  neighborhoods  and  for  their  neighborhood  schools,”  among  others.    See  Donald  R.  Kinder  &  David  O.  Sears,  Prejudice  and  Politics:  Symbolic  Racism  Versus  Racial  Threats  to  the  Good  Life,  40  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  414,  416  (1981).

[92].     See  Kinder  &  Mendelberg,  supra  note  88,  at  58–59,  61,  73.

[93].     With  respect  to  social  policy  support,  several  authors  have  found  that  symbolic  racism  is  predictive  of  affirmative  action  attitudes.    See  generally  Michael  Hughes,  Symbolic  Racism,  Old-Fashioned  Racism,  and  Whites’  Opposition  to  Affirmative  Actionin  Racial  Attitudes  in  the  1990s:  Continuity  &  Change  45,  45–75  (Steven  A.  Tuch  &  Jack  K.  Martin  eds.,  1997);  Cardell  K.  Jacobson,  Resistance  to  Affirmative  Action:  Self-Interest  or  Racism?,  29  J.  Conflict  Resol.  306  (1985);  David  O.  Sears  et  al.,  Is  It  Really  Racism?:  The  Origins  of  White  Americans’  Opposition  to  Race-Targeted  Policies,  61  Pub.  Opinion  Q.  16  (1997).    Researchers  have  also  found  that  symbolic  racism  is  predictive  of  behavior,  specifically  voting  for  Proposition  209,  an  anti-affirmative  action  ballot  measure.    See  Jacqueline  N.  Sawires  &  M.  Jean  Peacock,  Symbolic  Racism  and  Voting  Behavior  on  Proposition  209,  30  J.  Applied  Soc.  Psychol.  2092  (2000).    Rabinowitz  and  colleagues  likewise  found  that  symbolic  racism  predicted  whites’  opposition  to  policies  designed  to  benefit  blacks,  even  controlling  for  factors  such  as  conservative  ideology  and  attitudes  about  the  role  of  government;  in  contrast,  it  did  not  predict  whites’  attitudes  towards  social  programs  over  and  above  other  political  leanings  when  the  policy  did  not  specifically  target  blacks.    See  Joshua  L.  Rabinowitz  et  al.,  Why  Do  White  Americans  Oppose  Race-Targeted  Policies?  Clarifying  the  Impact  of  Symbolic  Racism,  30  Pol.  Psychol.  805  (2009).    Interestingly,  symbolic  racism  also  predicted  support  for  crime  policy,  even  in  the  absence  of  any  explicit  reference  to  race.    Green  and  colleagues  looked  at  the  effect  of  symbolic  racism  on  two  types  of  crime  policies:  punitive  policies,  in  which  the  goal  was  to  discourage  crime  by  making  it  too  costly,  and  preventive  policies,  in  which  the  goal  was  to  prevent  crime  by  changing  the  structural  conditions  believed  to  produce  it,  including  poverty  and  unemployment.    The  researchers  hypothesized  that,  because  symbolic  racism  reflects  the  belief  that  blacks  do  not  play  by  the  “rules”  of  American  society,  endorsement  of  symbolic  racism  would  be  associated  with  higher  support  for  a  punitive  response  to  crime  (for  example,  a  response  that  implies  blacks  have  bad  morals  and  must  be  coerced  to  behave  using  punishment)  and  lower  support  for  a  preventive  response  (which  reflects  an  appreciation  for  the  structural  factors  that  contribute  to  crimes  committed  by  blacks).    The  data  confirmed  these  expectations.    See,  e.g.,  Eva  G.  T.  Green  et  al.,  Symbolic  Racism  and  Whites’  Attitudes  Towards  Punitive  and  Preventive  Crime  Policies,  30  L.  &  Hum.  Behav.  435  (2006).

[94].     In  examinations  of  vote  preference,  Donald  Kinder  and  David  Sears  (1981)  found  that  symbolic  racism  predicted  voting  for  the  white,  over  the  black,  mayoral  candidate  in  two  Los  Angeles  elections,  a  finding  that  was  later  replicated  in  an  additional  sample.    See  generally  Kinder  &  Sears,  supra  note  91;  McConahay,  supra  note  87.    Jonathan  Knuckey  and  Byron  Orey  found  that  symbolic  racism  predicted  voting  for  a  Louisiana  gubernatorial  candidate  in  a  race  against  a  black  opponent,  and  Susan  Howell  found  that  it  predicted  support  for  David  Duke,  a  former  grand  wizard  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  who  ran  for  office  in  Louisiana  as  well.    Jonathan  Knuckey  &  Byron  D’Andra  Orey,  Symbolic  Racism  in  the  1995  Louisiana  Gubernatorial  Election,  81  Soc.  Sci.  Q.  1027  (2000);  Susan  E.  Howell,  Racism,  Cynicism,  Economics,  and  David  Duke,  22  Am.  Pol.  Q.  190  (1994).

[95].     See  Henry  &  Sears,  supra  note  89.

[96].     Id.  at  267.

[97].     See  id.  at  278.

[98].     Tyrone  A.  Forman  et  al.,  Race,  Place,  and  Discriminationin  Perspectives  on  Social  Problems:  Public  Harassment  231  (Carol  Brooks  Gardner  ed.,  1997)  (noting:  (1)  “[T]he  nature  and  extent  of  discrimination  among  Blacks  and  Whites  remains  unclear”;  (2)  “[p]rior  research  provides  few  estimates  of  whites’  experience  of  discrimination;  (3)  “there  is  considerable  amount  of  empirical  evidence  on  African  Americans’  experience  of  discrimination”  and  (4)  the  discussion  of  the  three  categories  does  not  discuss  any  contrast  between  the  self-reporting  of  blacks  or  whites).

[99].     See  generally  Ronald  C.  Kessler  et  al.,  The  Prevalence,  Distribution,  and  Mental  Health  Correlates  of  Perceived  Discrimination  in  the  United  States,  40  J.  Health  &  Soc.  Behav.  208  (1999).

[100].   Quaylan  Allen,  “They  Think  Minority  Means  Lesser  Than”:  Black  Middle-Class  Sons  and  Fathers  Resisting  Microaggressions  in  the  School,  48  Urban  Educ,  171  (2013).

[101].   Id.  at  186–87.

[102].   Id.  at  181.

[103].   See  generally,  e.g.,  Anthony  D.  Ong  et  al.,  Racial  Discrimination  and  the  Stress  Process,  96  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  1259  (2009).

[104].   Keeanga-Yamahtta  Taylor,  Black  Lives  Matter  on  Campus  Too,  Al  Jazeera  Am.  (Nov.  29,  2015),

[105].   Matt  Ferner  &  Nick  Wing,  It  Shouldn’t  Be  Hard  to  Accept  That  Racism  Is  a  Problem  at  Mizzou,  Huffington  Post  (Nov.  13,  2015,  11:30  AM),  http://www.huffington

[106].   Racism  on  Campus:  Stories  From  New  York  Times  Readers,  N.Y.  Times  (Nov.  17,  2015),  [].

[107].   In  Subpart  4,  we  revisit  explicit  racial  bias  in  the  context  of  highlighting  how  black  students  also  contend  with  negative  institutional  culture.

[108].   See  Ivan  E.  Bodensteiner,  The  Implications  of  Psychological  Research  Related  to  Unconscious  Discrimination  and  Implicit  Bias  in  Proving  Intentional  Discrimination,  73  Mo.  L.  Rev.  83,  102  (2008).

[109].   See  Icek  Ajzen  &  Nicole  Gilbert  Cote,  Attitudes  and  the  Prediction  of  Behaviorin  Attitudes  and  Attitude  Change  289,  294  (William  D.  Crano  &  Radmila  Prislin  eds.,  2008).

[110].   William  A.  Cunningham  et  al.,  Implicit  Attitude  Measures:  Consistency,  Stability,  and  Convergent  Validity,  12  Psychol.  Sci.  163  (2001).

[111].   See  Brian  A.  Nosek  et  al.,  Understanding  and  Using  the  Implicit  Association  Test:  II.  Method  Variables  and  Construct  Validity,  31  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  Bull.  166  (2005);  see  also  N.  Sriram  &  Anthony  G.  Greenwald,  The  Brief  Implicit  Association  Test,  56  Experimental  Psychol.  283  (2009)  (providing    information  on  the  brief  Implicit  Association  Test  (IAT),  which  is  a  newer  and  commonly  used  form  of  the  standard  IAT).

[112].   See  generally  Irene  V.  Blair  et  al.,  Implicit  Attitudesin  APA  Handbook  of  Personality  and  Social  Psychology:  Attitudes  and  Social  Cognition  665  (Mario  Mikulincer  et  al.  eds.,  2015).

[113].   Andrew  Scott  Baron  &  Mahzarin  R.  Banaji,  The  Development  of  Implicit  Attitudes  Evidence  of  Race  Evaluations  From  Ages  6  and  10  and  Adulthood,  17  Psychol.  Sci.  53  (2006).

[114].   Godsil,  supra  note  59,  at  58.

[115].   See  generally  Linda  van  den  Bergh  et  al.,  The  Implicit  Prejudiced  Attitudes  of  Teachers  Relations  to  Teacher  Expectations  and  the  Ethnic  Achievement  Gap,  47  Am.  Educ.  Res.  J.  497(2010).

[116].   Id.,  at  514–15,  518–19.

[117].   Id.

[118].   See  Sian  L.  Beilock  et  al.,  Female  Teachers’  Math  Anxiety  Affects  Girls’  Math  Achievement,  107  Proc.  Nat’l  Acad.  Sci.  1860  (2010).

[119].   Arin  N.  Reeves,  Nextions  Yellow  Paper  Series,  Written  in  Black  &  White:  Exploring  Confirmation  Bias  in  Racialized  Perceptions  of  Writing  Skills  (2014).

[120].   See  generally  Frances  Trix  &  Carolyn  Psenka,  Exploring  the  Color  of  Glass:  Letters  of  Recommendation  for  Female  and  Male  Medical  Faculty,  14  Discourse  &  Soc’y  191  (2003).

[121].   Id.  at  214–15.

[122].   See  generally  Rhea  E.  Steinpreis  et  al.,  The  Impact  of  Gender  on  the  Review  of  the  Curricula  Vitaeof  Job  Applicants  and  Tenure  Candidates:  A  National  Empirical  Study,  41  Sex  Roles  509  (1999).

[123].   See  generally  Kimberle  Crenshaw,  Demarginalizing  the  Intersection  of  Race  and  Sex:  A  Black  Feminist  Critique  of  Antidiscrimination  Doctrine,  Feminist  Theory  and  Antiracist  Politics,  1989  U.  Chi.  Legal  F.  139  (asserting  that  black  women’s  experiences  are  too  often  marginalized  in  discussions  about  gender  inequality  and  arguing  for  an  intersectional  approach  to  antidiscrimination  law  and  politics).

[124].   Marianne  Bertrand  &  Sendhil  Mullainathan,  Are  Emily  and  Greg  More  Employable  Than  Lakisha  and  Jamal?  A  Field  Experiment  on  Labor  Market  Discrimination  (Nat’l  Bureau  of  Econ.  Research,  Working  Paper  No.  9873,  2003),

[125].   Id.  at  10.

[126].   Id.

[127].   Ian  F.  Haney  López,  Institutional  Racism:  Judicial  Conduct  and  a  New  Theory  of  Racial  Discrimination,  109  Yale  L.J.  1717,  1794  (2000).

[128].   Susan  R.  Rankin  &  Robert  Dean  Reason,  Differing  Perceptions:  How  Students  of  Color  and  White  Students  Perceive  Campus  Climate  for  Underrepresented  Groups,  46  J.  C.  Student  Dev.  43,  52–55  (2005);  Thomas  F.  Pettigrew  &  Joanne  Martin,  Shaping  the  Organizational  Context  for  Black  American  Inclusion,  43  J.  Soc.  Issues  41  (1987);  Linda  Serra  Hagedorn  et  al.,  An  Investigation  of  Critical  Mass:  The  Role  of  Latino  Representation  in  the  Success  of  Urban  Community  College  Students,  48  Res.  Higher  Educ.  73  (2006);  Valerie  Purdie-Vaughns  et  al.,  Social  Identity  Contingencies:  How  Diversity  Cues  Signal  Threat  or  Safety  for  African  Americans  in  Mainstream  Institutions,  94  J.  Personality  &  Soc.  Psychol.  615  (2008).

[129].   Purdie-Vaughns  et  al.,  supra  note  128,  at  615–630  (2008).

[130].   See  generally  Carbado  &  Gulati,  supra  note  38.

[131].   See  Elise  C.  Boddie,  The  Indignities  of  Color  Blindness,  64  UCLA  L.  Rev.  Disc.  64  (2016).

[132].   Id.  at  67  (discussing  “racial  palatability”  and  “racial  salience”).

[133].   This  problem  has  engendered  debates  about  race  and  cannons  on  knowledge  and  whether  institutions  should  have  diversity  requirements.    See  Thomas  F.  Nelson  Laird  &  Mark  E.  Engberg,  Establishing  Differences  Between  Diversity  Requirements  and  Other  Courses  With  Varying  Degrees  of  Diversity  Inclusivity,  Penn.  St.  Educ.  Equity  Workshop  (2011),  [].

[134].   See,  e.g.,  Madeleine  Pauker,  UC  Berkeley’s  Persistent  Lack  of  Faculty  Diversity  Prompts  Efforts  to  Address  Issue,  Daily  Californian  (July  12,  2015), uc-berkeleys-persistent-lack-of-faculty-diversity-prompts-efforts-to-address-issue/  [https://];  Jan  Ransom,  Brandeis  Students  Occupy  Building  to  Protest  Lack  of  Racial  Diversity,  Boston  Globe  (Nov.  23,  2015), 2015/11/22/brandeis-students-occupy-building-protest-lack-racial-diversity/I1yUrfTbEpF dyW2ilajvJM/story.html  [].

[135].   See,  e.g.,  Jess  Bidgood,  Amherst  College  Drops  ‘Lord  Jeff’  as  Mascot,  New  York  Times  (Jan.  26,  2016),  [];  Blake  Neff,  Princeton  Students  Take  Over  President’s  Office,  Demand  Erasure  of  Woodrow  Wilson,  Daily  Caller  (Nov.  18,  2015),  [];  Tanaz  Ahmed,  After  Charleston  Shooting,  Yale  Students  Petition  to  Rename  Calhoun  CollegeUSA  TODAY  College  (July  9,  2015),  [].

[136].   See,  e.g.,  andré  douglas  pond  cummings  &  Seth  E.  Harper,  Wide  Right:  Why  the  NCAA’s  Policy  on  the  American  Indian  Mascot  Issue  Misses  the  Mark,  9  U.  Md.  L.J.  Race,  Religion,  Gender  &  Class  135  (2009).

[137].   Stephanie  A.  Fryberg  et  al.,  Of  Warrior  Chiefs  and  Indian  Princesses:  The  Psychological  Consequences  of  American  Indian  Mascots,  30  Basic  &  Applied  Soc.  Psychol.  208  (2008).

[138].   See  generally  Team  Spirits:  The  Native  American  Mascots  Controversy  (C.  Richard  King  &  Charles  Fruehling  Springwood  eds.,  2001).

[139].   See,  e.g.,  Kira  Brekke,  Black  Professor  Speaks  Out  About  Being  Racially  Profiled  Near  Campus,  Huffington  post:  Black  Voices  (Dec.  10,  2015,  5:22  PM),  http://www.huffington  [ 32T9-YJHH];  Scott  Jaschick,  Yale  Police  Aim  Gun  at  Columnist’s  Son,  Turning  Spotlight  on  Racial  Profiling  on  CampusPBS  Newshour  (Jan.  26,  2015,  1:22  PM),  http://www.pbs. org/newshour/rundown/yale-police-point-gun-columnists-son-bring-spotlight-back-racial-profiling-campus/  [];  Shereen  Marisol  Meraji,  USC  Students  Allege  Racial  Profiling  by  LAPDNPR  Code  Switch  (May  8,  2013,  11:53  AM),  [].

[140].   See  Sekaquaptewa  &  Thompson,  2002,  supra  note  80.

[141].   See  Cheryan  et  al.,  supra  note  63.

[142].   Phia  Shante  Salter,  Representations  of  Black  History  as  Intentional  Worlds  of  Oppression  and  Liberation  15  (Sept.  23,  2010)  (unpublished  Ph.D.  dissertation,  University  of  Kansas),  [].

[143].   Id.

[144].   John  D.  Coie  et  al.,  Peer  Group  Behavior  and  Social  Status,in  Peer  Rejection  in  Childhood,  17  (1990), Peer_Rejection_in_Childhood.html?id=OC84AAAAIAAJ.

[145].   Melissa  Faye  Jackson  et  al.,  Classroom  Contextual  Effects  of  Race  on  Children’s  Peer  Nominations,  77  Child  Dev.  1325  (2006)

[146].   Id.

[147].   Barbara  Reskin,  The  Race  Discrimination  System,  38  Ann.  Rev.  Sociology  17  (2012).

[148].   This  is  consistent  with  the  literature  on  white  privilege,  which  frames  white  advantage  as  the  collection  or  privileges  white  people  have  precisely  because  they  are  not  black.    The  classic  articulation  is  by  Peggy  Macintosh.    See  generally  Peggy  Macintosh,  White  Privilege  and  Male  Privilege:  A  Personal  Account  of  Coming  to  See  Correspondences  Through  Work  in  Women’s  Studies  (Wellesley  Coll.  Ctr.  for  Research  on  Women,  Working  Paper  No.  189,  1988).

[149].   See  generally  Laura  Sullivan  et  al.,  The  Racial  Wealth  Gap:  Why  Policy  Matters  (2015);  see  also  Melvin  L.  Oliver  &  Thomas  M.  Shapiro,  Black  Wealth/White  Wealth:  A  New  Perspective  on  Racial  Inequality  (2d  ed.  2006).

[150].   Sullivan  et  al.,  supra  note  149,  at  6.

[151].   Id.  at  3.

[152].   Id.  at  20.

[153].   See  generally  Dalton  Conley,  Being  Black,  Living  in  the  Red:  Race,  Wealth,  and  Social  Policy  in  America  (2010);  Michael  Fletcher,  A  Shattered  Foundation,  Wash.  Post  (Jan.  24,  2015), 01/24/the-american-dream-shatters-in-prince-georges-county/  []  (exploring  African  American  families  in  Prince  George’s  County  who  built  up  a  middle-class  community,  but  without  the  economic  security  of  their  neighbors  in  white  suburbs,  are  losing  their  wealth);  Tami  Luhby,  Housing  Crisis  Hits  Blacks  HardestCNN  (Oct.  19,  2010,  8:15  AM),  []  (arguing  that  the  black  middle  class  was  built  through  homeownership,  and  that  the  foreclosure  crisis  decimated  the  rate  of  black  homeownership).

[154].   Richard  D.  Kahlenberg,  Texas’  College  Admissions  Policies  Give  the  Well-To-Do  a  Leg  Up,  L.A.  Times  (Dec.  8,  2015,  5:00  AM),  [ KS65-XKKS].

[155].   Cheryl  I.  Harris,  Fisher’s  Foibles:  From  Race  and  Class  to  Class  Not  Race,  64  UCLA  L.  Rev.  Disc.  (forthcoming  2016)  (manuscript  at  8–9)  (on  file  with  author).

[156].   See  Eugene  Robinson,  A  Question  of  Race  vs.  Class,  Wash.  Post  (May  15,  2007),  [].

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