Affirmative Action 7 Essay, Research Paper
Affirmative action has done a tremendous favor to our country by allowing opportunities for those who have been historically denied equal opportunity. Affirmative action was not intended to be a quota system, but has been abused by administrators–particularly those who are opposed to it. “Hard quotas are only enforced by legal findings of discrimination.” (R. Wilkins, p.331-332:6). Affirmative action was never designed to relieve poverty; however, the opportunity for professional advancement undeniably provides a better life style for minorities and women. Despite the positive results of 30 years of affirmative action, it is still under attack by whites and even by blacks and other minorities–those who would benefit the most from it. It might need some tweaking or transformation, but abolishment is not the answer. Some have suggested the program should shift to a class-based program, but classism and race are already engraved in this society–I don’t think we can separate that. Though we would all like to think that America no longer needs affirmative action; there are at least three reasons that this well-meaning program should remain public policy.
The first reason that affirmative action should remain a policy in this country is racism. Though many white Americans embrace the progress of minorities and women, many still hold on the old “Jim Crow” ideologies. One example of racism is the blatant (overt) recruitment practices by extremist groups such as the “Skin-heads” and the old “Ku Klux Klan”. These organized racist groups are using new technology (The Internet) and some of the old tactics (rallies and terrorism) to pollute the minds of the American youth. Another example of racism is of the covert variety. This variety uses demographics to screen potential employees. Since most of our cities are still segregated by race and/or ethnic neighborhoods, it is very easy for employers to identify or “weed out” individuals by a mere address alone. Identities are also obtained from ethnic speech patterns.
The second reason affirmative action should remain public policy is based on simple human nature. One example of this is explained through sociological research– in that people have a tendency to surround themselves with those whom they most identify with. This applies to race, sex, and ethnicity. The presence of affirmative action serves as a reminder that we as Americans should have “inclusion” or “cultural diversity” as our goal. This is the only way we will actually achieve peace and tranquility. Another example of human nature that hinders equal opportunity is racial ego. “It may be that we will need affirmative action until most white males are really ready for a color blind society–that is, when they are ready to assume the rank of a mere citizen.” (Roger Wilkins, p.340: 44). In short, white males still have a substantial hold on wealth and power in this country, which they are not willing to relinquish.
The third reason that affirmative action should remain public policy is political denial. One example is a speech by one of our nations leaders, former Vice President Bob Dole “Let me now forgive us Slavery was before we were born must future generations continue to pay the price for ancient wrongs?” (R. Wilkins, p. 344:19). This kind of rhetoric demonstrates that some white Americans deny that there is still a racial problem in this country–this attitude suggest that affirmative action should remain. Another example of a politician in denial was by House Speaker Newt Gingrich. According to the Washington Post “Gingrich dismissed the argument that the beneficiaries of affirmative action (blacks), have been subjected to discrimination for centuries and that the Irish were discriminated by the English.” (R. Wilkins, p. 335:23). Given the nature of these denials from our leaders, minorities are still subject to discrimination. “People who forget the mistakes of the past are destined to repeat those mistakes in the future”. (unknown famous quote).
In my opinion, it would be a grave mistake to abolish the affirmative action program. The attitude by politicians, racists, and plain old human nature provides solid reasons why affirmative action should remain public policy–maybe forever.