Monday, December 21, 2009

The Value of a Claremont McKenna Black Studies Degree?

In the debate over Kwanzaagate, many students have been asking just what can a degree in black studies get you? The answer, apparently, is a job in the White House. That, of course, should terrify people on the Right and Left.

When President Obama said that he would be a president for all Americans, what he meant to say was that if you're a far leftist, union-backer, or "person of color," you're more than welcome in my administration.

Enter Rhonda M. Carter, CMC '2002, and formerly, Executive Assistant to the Deputy White House Counsel.

Ms. Carter graduated from Claremont McKenna, in 2002. Her thesis is in Black Studies. The title of her thesis "Blacks in the United States, Reparations, and the Search for Healing." She wrote it with two very radical black studies professors at Pomona College.

Ms. Butts, her boss, is a long time friend of Barack Obama and was part of his presidential transition team, who left after Obama appointed her to work at the Millennium Development Corporation under another CMCer, Daniel Yohannes. In Butts' previous capacity, she helped pick the czars. There's no doubt that Ms. Butts is radical. She was the Senior Vice President for Domestic Policy at the far left think tank, Center for American Progress.

At Center for American Progress, Butts met Ms. Carter. (I'm trying to find out whether or not Butts hired Carter there.)

Carter is clearly underqualified for a political office. (She began her career at the University of Washington in Seattle where she was the head of a minority services outreach program, but hey, she apparently was one of the Appartment RAs back in 2001-2002 so you know she's good with chaos....)

Could it be that her thesis was the reason that she was hired for a job as prestigious as the White House? And what does it say about Ms. Butts that her executive assistant harbors some pretty extreme views?

I think it's clear that the radicalism of the Obama administration goes all the way down to the rank and file.


Jon Rice said...

I think that this post needs a little more research; we cannot define humans by the degrees they hold. It's only one definition of a person. Especially from a liberal arts college, where the degree does not always define a persons greatest expertise. There are many other factors to getting a job at any employer, especially the White House.

Besides this degree, what do we know of Ms. Carter's background, besides the fact that she attended CMC, and held a "radical" position. Just because someone holds a "radical" political view, which we cannot prove even if she WAS at a leftist think tank, does not mean they are without substance or reason.

CMM said...

This blog does a poor job at arguing a point and for someone who frequently points out bad journalism of others I am [not] surprised. First of all you cannot assume that someone is clearly unqualified for a position of which you do not have the qualifications listed nor have you seen their resume. You are solely resting your argument on the basis that you do not support a degree in Black Studies or a leftist viewpoint. Furthermore you attempt to use the knowledge that one former, possibly leftist, Black Studies major mean that the whole Obama campaign is radical.

Additionally, I think maybe you should actually look into what someone can do with a degree in Black Studies or simply look at the course requirements for a degree in Black Studies. I think you would be surprised at the rigor and interdisciplinary nature of the degree.

Lastly, as graduate degrees become more valued bachelor's degrees are meant simply to show ones literacy and and ability to critically think,especially when you attend a liberal arts college, where so many of the degrees do not directly transfer into job descriptions.

polyjarod said...

First of all, as someone whose thesis could have been submitted for the Black Studies thesis award, I resent the implication that ethnic studies is an inferior research area. There is not reason to presume that someone did not do rigorous research even if they come to conclusions with which you do not agree.

Second, I don't see what specially qualifications that you need to be Executive Assistant to White Counsel that you cannot get from a CMC education and a Black Studies degree. Much her job will require rigorous research skills, something that would have central to both her degree and the overal CMC education, and organization and administrative skills that she would have developed as a CMC RA and directing a multicultural affairs program at University of Washington-Seattle. I don't see why see is not qualified for this job. You seem to just have a Richard Rodriguez-like hatred for ethnic studies.

Anonymous said...

"I resent the implication that ethnic studies is an inferior research area."

I can understand the resentment, but the implication is more than just an implication--it reflects the reality of essentially all "black studies" and "Chicano studies" programs. When even at Harvard their scholars produce more rap than serious academic research, when every academics outside those departments rolls his or her eyes when those department are mentioned, we do have a deeper problem than just an implication.

There is no question in my mind that ethnic departments CAN, in principle, conduct serious scholarship. Unfortunately I have yet to see one "black studies" or "Chicano studies" department that does.

CMM said...

Anonymous, how much research have you done into Black Studies departments of Chicano Studies departments?

Why not look up the faculty at the Claremont Colleges who are in those fields to see their research?