Blue Vs. White: Current inclusive policies don’t do enough for diversity
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 23:10
Throughout the history of the United States, there have been countless cases of minorities being abused, slandered or otherwise harmed by the majority. After the Civil Rights movement, however, this disparity was brought drastically and permanently into the public eye. Finally, people on a wide scale were confronted with the atrocities and prejudices that beset minorities, and many began to think of equality in ways they had not before. Years later, there is still a disparity between minorities and the majority, a fact that is not only disconcerting but threatening to the future of minorities and the nation as a whole.
Of the many policies that have helped to give minorities greater chances for education, work and overall equality, none has been more prevalent – or more contested – than affirmative action. This policy considers factors such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and national origin in order to create a fair, representative and nondiscriminatory environment in school and business. There has, however, been much dispute over whether such a system, once thought necessary, is still needed today, and about what it really does to the hearts and minds of Americans. Racism and sexism seem overtly prevalent in today’s society, and attempts have so far failed to stop it. This brings into question the place of affirmative action as a piece of legislature, and whether it would be better to instead favor race-neutral policies, particularly for universities.
So far, nine states have completely abandoned affirmative action for enrollment in schools. During the first years of race-neutral decisions, minority representation suffered, but has since flourished, with percentages even higher than during the years of affirmative action. Financial aid in schools like that is instead based on class and economic standing, where deserving students of any race that would not otherwise have the means to attend college are given opportunity. Only in highly selective schools, such as UCLA and Berkeley, Calif. has the percentage of Hispanic and African American students declined. Overall, however, colleges are much more diversified and representative in states that have race-neutrality.
Affirmative action is a highly contested article, and brings about several issues of discrimination. There are some who claim that what once started as anti-discrimination has led to discrimination against white males in preference of minorities. Technically, as they do not specifically benefit from the policy, this may be seen as true, but I believe differently. I believe that affirmative action does promote discrimination, but it does so against everyone. The legislation proposes a clear difference between race, gender and other distinguishing characteristics that have no true bearing on whether or not a person is qualified to work, receive education or hold an office. True equality cannot be mandated by the state in some official warrant, and in fact attempts to do so, though once necessary, are now accomplishing the opposite effect, driving a wedge between people of different background and social standings. The fact that affirmative action is in place shows that there is a racial and gender preference, not of minorities, but of white males. The fact that there must be quotas of females and racial minorities in work places and colleges are evidence of this immoral preference. When this program was removed, all but the most selective colleges increased their percentages of ethnic and gender diversity. This goes only to show that the best way to create a society free of racial and gender discrimination is to not discriminate by those factors. While seemingly obvious, affirmative action places great stress on these qualities, and thereby only serves to aid in the prejudice against them.
This is not to say that affirmative action, one of the main victories of the Civil Rights movement, and a profound statement for its time, was not successful or necessary in some ways. From its inception until 1980, it saw marked increases in diversification and the overall improvement in the lives of minorities. Since then, however, the place of minorities has stagnated. Things are not getting any worse, but certainly not improving. This is because a new revolution was needed, not one of arms or speeches, but a silent one, whispered between friends and shown ubiquitously throughout society. This new revolution is one of the human subconscious, of global understanding and acceptance of others. It does not require legislation that only serves to reinforce racial and gender differences; it requires only thought and an actual honest effort by society to be more open-minded.