California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: March 18, 2000
Group discussion on Accountability (3/14/00)
Accountability must be redefined. It cannot be a "1 to 1 correspondence" any longer. Usually, the privileged people give financial support to causes like education. The problem is, they require something specific in return. If an "underpriveleged" black student is required to spend her or his first two years out of law school in the local area that gave him/her a scholarship to study for the bar, and has to turn down a big job on Wall Street, she or he continues to be enslaved by the white elite. This student cannot live up to her or his full potential, and a career might be damaged.
I'm sorry to say, equal opportunity DOES NOT exist. If Bill Gates had instead been "Mary Gates," would she have been taken seriously?
When we hold someone accountable we usually do so in the framework of a limited transaction. We offer you a scholarship. We expect you to perform academically. We offer you to study for the bar; we expect you to pay back in terms of giving legal services to the community that gave you the scholarship. But that does not take into account why you needed the scholarship in the first place, or how that pay back will affect the next stage in your career.
I am amazed at the succinctness and skill with which you expressed the equal playing field problem. Virginia Woolf asked, "If Shakespeare had had a sister . . ." who wrote as he did, would she have been taken seriously?
I don't know what led you to think of gender in this instance, Kimberly, but it was a good example. The male, taken seriously, is often accorded the support of his family to study for the bar. The female, not taken seriously, lacks that support to study for the bar. If the scholarship is meant to equalize opportunity to study and achieve, then payback for the scholarship re-introduces the inequality. Suggests that the inequality is only temporarily suspended, not balanced, not eliminated.
I hope that many of you, like Michael Planck, will notice that we need much more depth to this discussion, and will join in these comments. jeanne