On pole vault politics

It is interesting that—while he lectures #ADOS on their evidence-based position on immigration policy and scolds them for not uncritically accepting the claim that the unrestricted movement of people into the U.S. has zero implications for their group’s employment prospects in discreet economic sectors—Hassan Ahmad has assembled a team of professional litigators that seems to showcase exactly the kind of ethnic-first thinking that he rabidly decries as reactionary and immoral.

True enough, ethnic nepotism in the workplace is not necessarily indicative of a person’s broader and perhaps more egalitarian political committments. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to overlook the complete absence of a Black attorney at Ahmad’s immigration law firm given his opinion (so zealously and adamantly expressed on Twitter) of how Black Americans are supposed to feel about that particular issue.

Re: the overall situation on Black lawyers in America, it ain’t great. Not that that’s what this post is about, but it was reported this past summer that Black representation in the legal field—now at 4.7%—continues its downward trend. Oppositely, for Asian-American lawyers nationwide, their numbers have more than doubled since 2000 and they are the largest minority group in major law firms.

Like much of the demographic shifts that occurred in America after the mid-century, the largest wave of Pakistani immigrants to the U.S. was made possible via legislation that came out of the ADOS-led, Civil Rights-era advocacy efforts to relax national immigration policy. Unsurprisingly, the class character of these arrivals was of a decidedly higher echelon, and was made up of “generally well-educated and financially comfortable graduate students and professionals, such as doctors, engineers, and scientists, who emigrated for educational and economic opportunities.” The present-day median income of Pakistani-Americans—which, at $87.51K, well outstrips the national average—attests to how the group’s professional class seedings went on to facilitate the healthy, generational economic development that is enjoyed by every group but one in the United States: the American Descendants of Slavery.

None of this is particularly revalatory. And you really can do this with any immigrant group in America when evaluating against ADOS. Go ahead: make a graph where x is time in America and y is median income. No other ethnicity even remotely maps onto the absolutely sclerotic and stunted line that represents the ADOS experience. That line doesn’t even so much as quiver until around the early ’70s. That’s of course when the other groups start cropping up. And from there the ADOS line doesn’t climb so much as it just kind of like lurches forward, a totally un-dynamic slog while the people of color line begins its ascent. For Black America there’s another faint tremble of ‘improvement’ just around the millennium, but by that time the POC income slope is already entering territory that ADOS have never, ever (like, to this day) realized. From that point on, well, a headline of a 2016 WaPo article tells you just about everything you need to know: African Americans are the only racial group in the U.S. still making less than they did in 2000.

So I mean that’s the situation. And it seems to me that if there’s anything more appalling than the total lopsidedness of progress that has defined ADOS & minority economic development in America, it’s watching the blue checks like Hassan Ahmad all posse up and pick a fight with #ADOS because the latter are (just maybe!) beginning to feel like they’ve been cast(e) as the fall guy. Really, how are these people so seethingly mad at #ADOS for having done a basic appraisal of what a half-century of coalition politics has actually resulted in for them? Like, how do you become so intensely and keenly hateful toward people for interpreting reality? Were they just never supposed to figure out that the ‘politics of inclusion’ in effect reproduces the same basic hierarchy they’ve been trying to get out from under for the past four-hundred years? Are they supposed to remain silent while the grandeur and the specificity of their historic struggle just gets kind of crudely grafted onto this group or that group? I’m asking this sincerely: how can you possibly not expect ADOS to oppose more people coming into the country when literally every arriving group has used them to pole vault into a version of American life that they themselves have never accessed? They are the pole in this scenario. And it just seems obvious to me as to why they’d look for another way of doing things when you are screaming at them that the pole will eventually make it over the crossbar when, in fact, no, it never will, because it’s not supposed to.