Affirmative action doesn’t allow for quotas. They’re illegal. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the numbers in front of you.
UC Berkeley just released preliminary numbers of the freshman admits for this coming fall 2015.
The numbers of African-Americans systemwide are appallingly low.
There are 59 fewer admits from 2014; 94 fewer compared to 2013.
Overall, there were 2,653 African-Americans in the freshman class, which is about 4.3 percent of the universitywide total.
If a public school should be a perfect mirror, the state at present is at 6 percent African-American.
For those not used to California demographics, Blacks are the fourth-largest group, after Whites, Hispanics and Asians.
Still, 6 percent in the state and just 4.3 percent in the entering class of the state’s top university system?
And at the top school, UC Berkeley, the Black numbers are even lower — 3.9 percent.
No one is advocating a quota. The numbers are presented here to sound the alarm.
But I don’t want to beat up on the secondary and elementary schools today. Nor the government.
This is not to relieve them from any blame or responsibility. There’s plenty of that to go around.
But there’s another big factor to consider.
Blacks seem to have given up on California.
In 2005, I interviewed professor Mamie Darlington.
She was from Gastonia, North Carolina, and went to Spelman College in Atlanta. She became an academic at Atlanta University, but was lured West.
After 13 years in California, Darlington was about to become professor emeritus in sociology at the University of Pacific and embark on her next adventure — a reverse exodus back to the South.
Darlington was part of a growing trend since the mid-1980s, in which California lost large numbers of its Black population to such states as Georgia, Virginia and Florida, according to studies by Brookings Institution demographer William Frey.
While the exodus took place mostly from the state’s urban areas, Darlington said even in California’s heartland, the Central Valley, there was no Gold Rush for African-Americans. Only a rush out.
“The Valley does not welcome people of color,” Darlington told me back then in a story reported in the Stockton Record.” It’s a lot more difficult to be judged based on merit than here in the South.”
Her lasting memory of Stockton and California’s Central Valley?
“It’s still a racist area. Black folks don’t stay here because of how they’re treated. … People talk down to them or wonder how they got a position. Or people don’t accept supervision from them because they’re Black. So if people get jobs, they don’t stay because of the racist behavior they encounter.”
But in the South?
“You move up faster,” she said. “It’s a whole different lifestyle back there. … It’s where I feel free.”
I haven’t spoken to Darlington since my story. But you don’t have an exodus without some impact. While Asian and Latino populations continue to explode, the Black population in the state remains barely above 6 percent.
Meanwhile, Asian Americans are at 14.1 percent of the state as of 2013, and universitywide at Cal are at 36.3 percent.
Most people take those numbers alone and see that as real achievement.
But taken in context with other groups, such as African-Americans, and the inequity is clear.
Once again, I’m not advocating quotas. I’m advocating the need for fairness for all in our public resources.
But something’s not right in the Golden State. Worse, yet, it’s a shame that many African-Americans are flat out giving up on the state, unwilling to wait for California to get it right.
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator from California. He writes for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. You can reach him at: www.Twitter.com/emilamok; http://www.amok.com; and www.fb.com/emilguillermomedia.