On Friday, I noted what I deemed to be a strange response from a self-described “group of Latino/a law professors” to a piece I wrote for Scotusblog on affirmative action and Hispanics after Fisher; strange primarily because I was addressing the diversity rationale for affirmative action, which is the rationale approved of by the Supreme Court, but the response only discussed other rationales, which seem to be plainly unconstitutional under current jurisprudence including Fisher, and thus only tangential to my piece.
The response also contains this line, which I didn’t pay much attention to: “Affirmative action attempts to remedy racism; the availability of this remedy for Latinos should not be attacked because there also exists some racism among Latinos, let alone among individuals who might conceivably be classed as Hispanics.” When I read this, I thought that given my paragraph that began, “Hispanics can be the direct descendants of Spanish conquistadors, their indigenous victims…” the professors were referring to the fact that there is a great deal of racism within Latin American society, with individuals of European descent often mistreating individuals of mixed-race, Indian, and African descent.
However, someone “in the know” has suggested to me that the letter was actually referring to George Zimmerman. I did reference Zimmerman in the introductory “hook” to my Scotusblog piece–it’s common with op-eds to try to open your piece with a “hook”, an allusion to a relevant current event so as to pique the readers interest.
But as I explained quite explicitly, the relevance of Zimmerman was that “the debate over how to categorize Zimmerman [white, Hispanic, or white Hispanic] exemplifies ambiguities in Hispanic identity, and therefore leads to some interesting questions regarding the future of affirmative action.” I neither suggested that Zimmerman exemplifies racism among “Latinos” or “people who might conceivably by classed as Hispnanics”–indeed, to my knowledge racism on his part is far from an established fact–nor did I even remotely suggest that any racism on Zimmerman’s part has anything to with whether affirmative action for Hispanics is a a good idea.
I’m not seeing any ambiguities here, but let me nevertheless state for the record that I do not, as the letter apparently suggested, think that the availability of affirmative action “for Latinos should … be attacked because there also exists some racism among Latinos, let alone among individuals who might conceivably be classed as Hispanics.” In fact, that would be a rather stupid reason to oppose affirmative action.