Case unfounded; law keeps playing field level
Carl J. Bachus | Collegio Writer
I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to address those who would disregard my opinion on this matter because of the color of my skin. Some may question the credibility of this piece because I am African-American. I know this and I implore the reader to truly assess my beliefs on this topic, rather than ignore them based on a misconception they may have.
Misconception is the key word here. There are many misconceptions perpetuated by our society. Among the most insulting is the idea that affirmative action is an unneeded practice. Affirmative action is a government action used to curb the educational and occupational discrimination based on race, among other factors. This practice has led to a notable increase in the employment for people of color in the United States since its implementation in 1961. However, this action requiring employers and schools to certain quotas (that’s the bad word here) has been criticized for deliberately denying qualified white applicants in favor of less-qualified applicants of minority descent.
This issue has been brought before the U.S. Supreme Court for the eighth time, most recently by Abigail Fisher, a graduate of Louisiana State University who claims that the school that she wanted to go to, University of Texas-Austin, denied her admission because she was white. This has obviously caused considerable outrage from the conservative right and fueled persistent anti-AA fire. The argument, to this bystander, seems to be that affirmative action does more harm than it does good; that it has created a generation of American minorities who, by nature, will not work as hard as their white counterparts because they “don’t have to.”
First, the American public must realize that Fisher’s GPA was 3.59 and she received an 1180 on her SATs. These scores are not particularly competitive and need to be taken into consideration because certain factions are framing this debate as a white, 4.0-GPA student being rejected in favor of a minority student with a 2.7, just so a school can meet a quota. That simply isn’t how it works. Of the 2008 freshman class that Fisher was so desperate to be a part of, five minority applicants with lower academic ratings were admitted by UT-A, as were 42 white applicants with lower scores than Fisher. Out of the minority students with higher scores, 168 were rejected. Barring all that information, she still went to a fairly reputable school. So, to put it plainly: Ms. Fisher, please sit down.
Keeping the playing field level
Although founded on obvious malarkey, the case has brought up the argument the affirmative action is simply a system to reward lazy minorities who couldn’t possibly be working equally as hard, if not harder than, their white counterparts. There seems to be this idea that because we have a biracial POTUS, the opportunity gaps between races, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds have been closed. Getting rid of AA will not “even the playing field” because the field has never been, and still is not, even. I think of it in terms of competitive running. If the gun is shot and only a select few get to run, then, when those runners get to a certain point, everyone else is allowed to run, the race is not fair. Also, if one or a few of those trailing runners manage to catch up to, or surpass the first group, this is not cause to assume that the others still trailing behind are being given a fair shot.
Demographics and detractors
The affirmative action debate, like that of welfare, revolves around people (usually wealthy and usually white, let’s face facts) who assume that they know everything about demographics and situations that they have never been a part of. Even when shown the harsh realities that a disproportionate number of American minorities face, some simply refuse to believe that programs like these are needed. That’s because they themselves don’t need them.
These detractors often say things like, “It’s time to get over slavery,” “The civil rights thing was so long ago” and, “Why aren’t there any whites-only scholarships?” One, African-Americans (who are not the only beneficiaries of AA) have come to terms with the fact that slavery happened. We just refuse to forget that it happened, that’s what people have a problem with. Two, my mother was born at the tail end of the civil rights movement, so it wasn’t “so long ago.” It was only 44 years ago, so don’t try and downplay it as unimportant or something to be swept under some pretty, red, white and blue rug. As for all-white scholarships, there are a lot of those; they just don’t label them whites-only so they don’t offend those who have no chance of receiving them.
This case, in all its nonsense, is simply a case of someone’s own inadequacies being projected onto a controversial topic, which is then pounced on by the political machines that wish to perpetuate the continued disenfranchisement of a particular system of demographics. The best way to convince a population that their problems don’t matter is to pretend that the perpetrators, intentional or otherwise, are actually the victims of the discrimination that they choose not to acknowledge.
Action causes unintended harm for both sides
Jared Evans | Collegio Writer
The last shots of the Civil War were heard almost 150 years ago. It was a war rooted in violence and greed, but the biggest issue was slavery and racism— or so it is widely believed.
This is a misconception. There were legions of African-American and Native American soldiers serving in the war who fought and died for reasons that they held sacred, but not because they were forced to. They expected nothing in return, but wished for respect that was rarely given in that time.
However, even after the Reconstruction amendments – the 13th, 14th and 15th constitutional amendments that helped to give equal protection to Americans regardless of their race or ethnicity – many today feel as though people of color should be given more leniency when it comes to jobs, schooling and pay because of past discrimination and slavery.
By taking people who are thought to be at a disadvantage because of their race and making things easier for them, affirmative action is turning the majority into the disadvantaged group. Minority groups are freely given things that everyone should have to work for equally. As a result, affirmative action is creating its own little category of racism.
It’s more appropriate to judge people on their merits, not their race or racial background.
What’s creating such controversy in the Supreme Court case regarding affirmative action is that a young caucasian woman named Abigail Fisher was denied admission to the University of Texas in Austin. Although she was academically qualified to attend, an African-American was accepted to the university even though that student’s high school transcript was not as solid as Fisher’s.
Although the university claims that Fisher would not have been accepted regardless of the role that race played in the process, she still sued the university on the basis of affirmative action. The lawsuit reached the Supreme Court, which heard arguments on Wednesday, Oct. 10.
I agree with Fisher’s complaint: Affirmative action harms its intended beneficiaries, it punishes innocent people and it defies an essentially individualistic American work ethic. It is vital to abolish this practice.
What I mean by “harming its intended beneficiaries” is that affirmative action sets a standard for nonwhite people in society. This is especially true in the workplace. If a minority student or professional is qualified, he or she will be looked down upon because of the stereotype that they had gotten by through special treatment or lower standards.
Old debts, modern repayment
A point that many people see as controversial is that innocent people are forced to pay for past crimes of the guilty. That is, those who have no connection to the atrocities that befell nonwhites in the past are responsible for repairing those strained bonds in the present.
The card on affirmative action may be played both ways, however. There are many who believe that because of our ancestors’ mistreatment of modern-day minority groups, those minority groups should be given special treatment to amend for the wrongs of the past.
While I agree to an extent that we should make amends for the past, they should not be made with special treatment of one group. We should judge people on their merits, personality and work ethic. Doing so will strengthen interracial friendships and employment opportunities for all. Only then can the United States truly become a colorblind nation, and the sin of racism will be able to fade from existence.