On this fourth day of Kwanzaa, it seems only fitting to turn our attention to one of the most important documents emerging out of African Americans’ collective struggle for economic justice at the University of Virginia: the Muddy Floor Report. It’s a lengthy but quite informative analysis of the racial politics of UVA’s occupational structure.
Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, An Examination of the University’s Minority Classified Staff (The Muddy Floor Report), June 1996
Ryland Richardson said:
It’s very interesting how this report compares to the readings for the day. When you read this, and then read the Cav Daily article on the UVA’s minority and women hiring (“University Lags in Women, Minority Hiring”). The Provost makes points saying things like they are on par with the national average, which the Muddy Floor report says is already substandard. Then, they Cav Daily itself says that the University’s numbers are actually below the national average. When they try to calm you down and say, “No, no, it’s fine, we’re handling it,” but you see complaints of the HRC circumventing rules and regulations that would have them promote and move up African-Americans and numbers backing these claims up, it makes you wonder how much trust you can put into these UVA governing institutions if they can’t catch these important structural inequalities.
And then, when you look at “the side of the coin which often does not receive as much thought” on affirmative action (“Economic Affirmative Action”), you realize how much you really need to understand a wide breadth of things to keep the wool from being pulled over your eyes. In the LSA meeting “Black, Brown, and the Politics of Latino Identity at UVA with Professor Harold,” someone from the UVA admissions office dispels the myth that students get in here sheerly from race. They take SE factors into consideration while reading essays and looking at grades, but they focus on the academics and the caliber. IF you don’t know that, then when he tries to use the two sticks and used gum supporting argument “The problem comes when race becomes the basis for giving out advantages such as college admissions,” then you will sit back and agree with him, not realizing that it is a baseless argument. It doesn’t use race as the BASIS for college admissions, academics is, so the problem he has is non-existent.
He later says explicitly that affirmative action should be done away with in it’s current form because “the days of rampant discrimination have passed for the most part,” yet the Muddy Floor report released that year says that the majority Black workers being evaluated are in the “Meets Expectation” range or lower, and receive wildly disproportional disciplinary actions against them. Another basis of his argument is completely fallacious, but it can sound true if you don’t educate yourself, because we hear these things all of the time.
I don’t know, I may be making fallacious claims myself because I don’t know if they were using race as a basis for admissions in 1996, but I do know that this argument is still present today in our discourse, and this entire editorial could have easily been in yesterday’s Cav Daily and no one would have known it was from over 15 years ago.
Professor Harold’s points on knowing your history and present situation to prevent someone else from telling it for you (and telling it wrong) are made very obvious with this.