The complex web of quotas, set-asides, and preferences that we have today were originally strategies for solving a real, pressing problem at a specific point in time. In the 1960s the United States was beginning the long-overdue process of bringing Americans of sub-Saharan African descent, most of whose ancestors were brought here forcibly as slaves, into the mainstream of American society after a century of having been excluded legally. Sadly, we balked. Rather than addressing the problem at hand we corporately decided to avoid it yet again, this time by importing a large, more docile labor force, mostly from Mexico. This new population had not suffered the problems of the descendants of slaves but opportunists among them decided to pretend that they had.
Unsurprisingly, an entire industry has grown up around these strategies and equally unsurprisingly people who are completely undeserving of the benefits of the strategies want them.
Fast forward to today and add a dash of folk postmodernism, a culture of being rewarded simply for showing up, and a sense of entitlement and biography, effort, or ability no longer matter. You don’t need to be the descendant of slaves, have a Native American heritage, come from a Jewish family, be the smartest kid in the class, be a gifted cellist, being the winner of the race, or carry the burdens that any of those realities bring with them to imagine that you are and you do, simultaneously vitiating the effectiveness of policy, trivializing the experiences of those who genuinely have those experiences, and taking something you don’t deserve.
It’s a Brave New World. Just imagine.