Back to Dec. '97-Jan. '98 articles
The Preferential Treatment ControversyBasically, three types of people oppose affirmative action. The first type is the one that really does not realize how racist and sexist America is. This person believes that minorities and women will get a fair chance in the workplace if they are qualified enough for a job and will get a fair educational chance if they are qualified enough for college admissions. They believe this can happen without government intervention. After nearly four hundred years of America oppressing African-Americans--thirty measly years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the act that made it illegal to discriminate because of one's race, color, or national origin--white folks are truly color-blind.
The second type against affirmative action also yells the "most qualified" rhetoric. At the same time, however, they know damn well that, left to their own devices, companies won't hire fairly and colleges won't admit fairly. They know this, but won't admit it.
This is the type of person that won't admit that Rodney King was the victim of racist police brutality. They claim that Rodney King brought the brutality on himself. Also, regardless if he was guilty or not, this type of person would also not admit that there could've been a possibility that racist police officers were trying to frame O.J. Simpson for a double murder (which I believe they were).
No matter how many facts and incidents you hand these people, they still will not admit how racist this country is. The third type of person that opposes affirmative action is the bigot. Whether they admit it or not, this person simply does not want to be on equal status with minorities and/or women. Being a politician or fireman is a white man's job. Being in the military is for the heterosexual macho man, not women.
The true purpose of affirmative action is to make sure that everyone has the equal opportunity to enjoy America's wealth. During its formation, the makers of affirmative action realized that you had to force change on people to make them change. Just outlawing discrimination wasn't enough, because institutions still would practice it regardless.
When an institution opens its doors to new people, affirmative action requires it to give preferential treatment to those qualified persons who are members of a minority group that has been historically discriminated against in employment and educational opportunities. A few qualified minorities are to be hired right along with qualified whites, and that's how it has always been. Affirmative action does not force companies to hire unqualified minorities, nor does it force colleges to admit unqualified minority students.
In the case of college admissions, it has been well known for years that whites have benefited from affirmative action. If you are the son or daughter of a college alumnus, the college that your parent graduated from automatically accepts you. The same goes if your parents have made huge financial contributions to the college.
Even former Vice President Dan Quayle benefited from affirmative action. Mr. That's-What-It-Says-On-The-Spelling-Card was the beneficiary of a University of Indiana Law School Program that was aimed at giving some students a second chance for admission. It was designed for those that didn't score highly among other college applicants but were thought to have some potential. It was intended for disadvantaged students--like the ones from the 'hood--but as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Clarence Page, points out in his book, Showing My Color, not limited to them. Several white students got in, too.
In the case of test scores, it is a proven fact that test scores don't always tell the whole truth about a person's potential. This is why those that do show potential despite low test-scores get accepted into college. Minorities aren't the only ones that get in this way, either. White males get in this way, too.
One misconception about college admissions tests is that blacks score the lowest. Wrong. Who scores the lowest? Poor white folks.
You see, it has also been known that previous education can be a factor on why some people score higher on tests than others. It has been recognized that the white, suburban teenager is getting a far superior education than both the white rural teenager and the brotha and sista from the 'hood. Previous education is also why some score lower on tests one must take to be a firefighter or police officer.
As for the few "reverse discrimination" claims (and there aren't many), most were thrown out by the lower courts, because the plaintiff was found to be unqualified for the job.
Again, Clarence Page writes, "I think the worst foes of affirmative action have not been Ronald Reagan, Jesse Helms, or David Duke. They have been the job interviewers. Hesitant to tell applicants the awful truth that they are not going to be hired, some job interviewers use affirmative action as a scapegoat."
The amazing thing about anti-affirmative action people is that they never have a real alternative to do away with discrimination. Affirmative action does give white males a little pinch on what it feels like to be discriminated against, but, in the long run, it benefits America on the whole. It makes the workforce and college campus more diverse. Also, since it was enacted, wages for women and minorities have dramatically increased. (Oh, yeah. White women benefited the most from affirmative action.) Why do away with something that does more good than harm?
As for you anti-affirmative action people? Come up with a better solution--or shut the fuck up!
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