Affirmative action has been the subject of increasing debate and tension in American society. The debate has been more emotional than intellectual, and has generated more tension than shed light on the issue. Participants in the debate have over examined the ethical and moral issues that affirmative action raises while forgetting to examine the system that has created the need for them. Too often, affirmative action is looked upon as the remedy for a nation once ill with the virulent disease of racial discrimination.
Affirmative action is, and should be seen as, a temporary, partial, and perhaps even flawed remedy for past and continuing discrimination against minorities in the American society. Perhaps the biggest complaint that one hears about affirmative action policies aimed at helping Black Americans is that they violate the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and the Civil Rights laws. The claim is that these programs distort what is now a level playing field and bestow preferential treatment on undeserving minorities because of the color of their skin.
While this view seems very logical on the surface, I contend that it lacks any historical support and is aimed more at preserving existing white privilege than establishing equality of opportunity for all. Just looking at the history of this country should provide a serious critique to the idea of a level playing field. Since the birth of this nation, Blacks have been an enslaved, oppressed, and exploited people. Until 1954, when the Supreme Court handed down Brown v. Board, Blacks were legally pushed to the margin of society where many were left to dwell in poverty and powerlessness.
The Brown decision removed the legal impediments that had so long kept Blacks deprived of the educational necessities. It merely allowed Blacks to enter the arena of competition. Without the deconstruction of white power and privilege how can we legitimately claim that the playing field is level? In fact not using affirmative action will only accomplish the continued exclusion of Black Americans from participation within American society and thus further ingrain stereotypes Another reason that affirmative action confuses me, is because the discussion is always limited to race and gender based affirmative action policies.
What about year after year the athletes that are admitted to all the colleges and universities around the country. And why? Just because they can run fast, jump high, or throw. Why dont the whites question that is it because it gets some of their kind in school also, or just because the blacks it does get in school will later on entertain them on Super Bowl Sunday or Monday night football. Others say the having affirmative action totally defeats the minorities esteem to work. I have heard that having affirmative action is like advancing one runner half way to the finish line.
By doing this we would completely corrupt the idea of the one hundred yard dash. In actuality what we are doing is not advancing the run but allowing the injured runner time to heal or advancing him the fifty yards the even out the competition. The minorities being the injured runner must be given some sort of edge if they are going to make it in this country. I ,as I am sure you have guessed, am for affirmative action. Many say blacks want affirmative action because we don’t want to do as much as the whites but get the same job.
That may be true for some but what about most of us who work hard have the same requirements as the whites but don’t get the job because we are not white. You and I both know that to this day Black Americans feel the lingering racism and stereotypes about their intelligence, tendency towards violence, sexual prowess, and so on. Maybe when all of this unnecessary and pointless stereotyping is gone we can do away with affirmative action but until then it must continue to exist.