so. many. white. tears.
I'm as intense an SJW as there is here, give or take artsydork and whereverjustice. (Where is ol' dork, anyway? I miss that fella. ) So absolutely: every institution in Canada is affected by racism, sexism, ableism, and clasissm, as I define those terms. And I'm all about calling that shit out. If I saw a single "white tear" on this thread, I'd eviscerate whomever was shedding it, and I'd get thirty Likes, even from people who disagreed with me.
So, okay. There are huge systemic barriers that make law school admission easier for the normative. It's easier for the able-bodied (both of the core criteria for admission, GPA and LSAT, are strongly affected by physical ability), easier for the native-English-speaking and white (both the LSAT and most academic programs rely heavily on quasi-colloquial English idioms and norms that you're going to grasp more readily if English is your first language), easier for men (I don't have stats on gender performance in undergrad and on the LSAT, but more on this later), and easier for rich people (two people of identical ability, one of them has "tutors" to write their papers for them through undergrad and focuses full-time on "studying for the LSAT", one of them has to work sixty hours a week and can't crack a book at any time in their undergrad, who's going to put up better stats?). More broadly speaking, life is easier for the able-bodied, white, male, and wealthy. I know there are those here who sneer at the concept of microaggressions, but fuck that---they're real, and they affect performance. Three people of equal ability and equal sensitivity apply for a job. The average person walks in, the boss looks at them like, "Okay, let's give this person a shot and treat them like a 7/10 human being." The guy who looks like a Matt Czuchry character (any Matt Czuchry character) walks in, the boss goes, "Wow! This person reminds me of my old frat buddies! I'd better bro out with them and kiss their ass and treat them like an 11/10 human being!" The woman with the accent and the facial deformity walks in, the boss goes, "Ugh, this person is yucky. I'd better treat them like a -1,000,000/10 human being." This happens, constantly, to everyone from every marginalized group, and if you don't see it, it's probably because you're too privileged to see it. And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Get shat on all the time, you're going to start to feel like shit, and it's going to reflect in your behaviour and your performance. Get treated like a god, you're going to perform like...an average schmoe, and have your mediocre performance received like the performance of a god. "No, but this isn't true, because look at Barack Obama!" Some people being unusually good at overcoming oppression doesn't mean that the oppression isn't there.
And, sorry, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that all of this is exactly how the world works, and that if you disagree, you're too ignorant to be worth arguing with---not necessarily stupid (though probably stupid), but, at the very least, completely unaware of the lived experience of anyone different from you. If you're from an oppressed group, you're facing "you don't belong here" vibes from everybody, constantly, that people from the majority groups don't have to deal with. That means that life is significantly harder for oppressed people, and that if they can overcome all of these systemic barriers and perform reasonably well at a rigged game, they deserve a shot (though, really, it's just a shot to compete in another, even-more-rigged game). If you and Usain Bolt are about to run a race against each other, and three minutes before the race, someone shoots Usain Bolt in both kneecaps, and he still almost outruns you, there's a chance that he's a better runner than you, right? Systemic oppression exists, and its victims deserve accommodation.
But---and here's where I come back down to earth---what does this accommodation look like in real terms? A no-whites-allowed policy in law school for the next eighty years? An affirmative action policy with drastically lower standards? How do you quantify those standards? I'm totally comfortable saying that an able-bodied person who speaks English as their first language who marginally outperforms a dyslexic blind immigrant on the LSAT is actually, probably, dumber in practice than the person they outperformed. But what does that look like? Does that look like "B's 155 is better than A's 156"? I think most of us would agree to that, and that's why we have access categories. Does that look like "B's 120 is better than A's 180"? As asinine as that sounds, there are circumstances in which I think it's actually plausible (say, if A stared blankly at the test in horror, was too dumb to understand a word, and then guessed right on all the questions, and B knew the answers to all the questions but was physically incapable of filling in the bubbles)---but for fuck's sake, make an argument. Looking at stats and saying they're disadvantageous to B, without a sense of what would be fair to B, is a cheap cop-out.
I went to library school when Doug Ford was having his fight with Margaret Atwood. I made significant waves by, mostly, agreeing with Doug Ford in that fight, which was heresy. Doug Ford was saying, "There should be as many libraries as people use." Margaret Atwood was saying, "There should be, I don't know how many libraries, but libraries are good and nice, so definitely lots." The former is how you make public policy. The latter is drivel. And my classmates would say, "Don't you agree there should be lots of libraries because they are good and nice?" And I would say, "No. I agree we should promote library usage to the point where we need lots of libraries, and then there should be lots of libraries because there's a need for them." And they would say, "But there are 98 library branches in Toronto and Doug Ford wants to cut to the point where there's only 96! Or, gasp, 94! There shouldn't be fewer libraries! There should be more!" And I'd say, "Okay. How many more? Three million? If Toronto had 1.1 libraries, each the size of the Toronto Reference Library, for each resident, would that be enough? And assuming that that's what you want, if there were were three million and one TRL-sized libraries, would you be okay with shutting one down?" And they'd say I was being an asshole, and I was being an asshole. Advocating for social justice is awesome and necessary, and I'll bow to no one in the ferocity of my values. But figuring out how to actually make things right is a lot harder than writing four words and an emoticon about how, you know, "I have no earthly idea how things ought to be or what would lead to fair outcomes, but certainly they ought to be somehow amorphously 'better' than they are now."
Thanks to the unique niche I fill here, I know a fair number of lawyers with disabilities and from marginalized communities. It wouldn't surprise anyone to know that they find it harder, on the whole, to find jobs than normative lawyers do. So let's say we never let another able-bodied white man attend law school in Canada. What happens then? Those people who are "not racist" but just seem to believe, when confronted with an individual white man and an individual black woman, that the white man is more competent one hundred times out of one hundred...what do they do? Do they hire the black woman as their lawyer? Or do they hire someone who graduated from law school before 2020? Clearly, they do the latter. There's no institutional solution we could impose on law school admissions, no matter how radical, that's going to stop the kyriarchy from doing its thing. So what can we do that's constructive? I'm no more sure than anyone here, but fuck, as much as they're (slightly and significantly, respectively) to my right on this issue, Diplock and MB are out there trying to build a more equitable world. What does a four-word potshot at a strawman accomplish?