Blue Vs. White: Individuals are not demeaned by affirmative action
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 23:10
While proponents debate the need for more affirmative action programs, the opponents argue that these programs are expensive and they only create another type of racism and ultimately do more harm than good. While compelling points can be made on both sides, the facts supporting affirmative action clearly outweigh the counter-arguments.
The Regents of the University of California voted in 1995 to end all affirmative action programs on their campuses. The results were devastating and they completely support the argument I am about to make. After ending affirmative action, Berkeley’s minority admissions dropped 61 percent and UCLA’s admissions dropped 36 percent. Although I understand why people might question affirmative action strategies, I feel that the reasons to support these programs are compelling. Their purpose is not to choose unworthy minorities over worthy majorities but instead to ensure that all applicants have an equal opportunity. There is no doubt that this is still needed in our society today.
More than 90,000 employment discrimination complaints were filed in 2009, 89.3 percent of chief executives are white and African American women with a bachelor’s degree make only $1,545 more annually than white males with a high school diploma. These numbers speak for themselves and they illustrate that discrimination is still prevalent in society. It baffles me that people can look at these statistics and still argue that affirmative action is unnecessary. I often hear people argue that discussing these topics serves no purpose and only makes the problems worse. Their solution is to ignore the problem in the hopes that it will go away. History teaches us that ignoring hatred and discrimination doesn’t solve the problem. If you witness cruelty or discrimination and ignore it, it doesn’t erase the fact that it happened. As I see it, when you ignore the issues, you become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Affirmative action is one positive step that we can take to acknowledge that a problem exists and to begin to bridge the gap between minorities and the rest of society.
Even those that acknowledge that discrimination exists and should be addressed argue that affirmative action is not the right way to proceed because it forces institutions to accept individuals based on their background rather than their qualifications. However, as I stated earlier, affirmative action is not about quotas. It is about giving those who are equally qualified equal access to opportunities. As Stanford University states, affirmative action in no way requires unqualified individuals or quotas, and in fact such factors would violate the anti-discrimination laws. Despite these facts, people still make the argument that minorities with lower tests scores are admitted to top universities. Even if this is the case, it is important to look at the whole picture. It is important to recognize that someone who is demeaned or denied opportunities or key resources based on race or gender is starting life at a significant disadvantage. They are then competing with individuals whose abilities were funded and celebrated at every turn. It seems likely that test scores in these two groups will differ and it seems appropriate that we should support legislation that gives these disadvantaged people a boost in the job market and allows them an opportunity to prove themselves and rise to their full potential.
Affirmative action doesn’t demean individuals in any way. It gives them the opportunity to succeed that they need and deserve. It gives people the chance to explore academic and career opportunities that would otherwise be beyond their reach. It opposes discrimination of minorities when they apply for jobs or when they apply for entrance into a university. Understandably, affirmative action is not a magic wand. Discrimination still exists. But if you think affirmative action programs should be stopped completely, just look at what happened in California when the program was abandoned. It isn’t the complete solution but it is a step in the right direction.