Affirmative action should be changed or ended altogether In the late Sixties, Martin Luther King Jr. fought hard for equal rights. Before he was assassinated in 1968, he made a speech about his vision of human equality. "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." (King) The Sixties were a turning point for racial equality. Because of leaders like King, many blacks and minority groups began to face / win new opportunities that were never before available.
New policies and laws were established to help reverse the detriment to ethnic groups through years of injustice and prejudice. But is it right to limit other races to advance another? Are we using racism to stop racism? Although equal rights policies were established through what became known as "affirmative action" and have assisted in the advancement of many minority groups, affirmative action today is wrong and should be revised or stopped altogether. Affirmative action is an instituted list of policies to make up for past discrimination against groups based on race, religion, national origin, and gender. From its beginning, affirmative action has given minority groups opportunities for employment, promotion at work, new business ownership, school admission, scholarships and financial aid.
President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced affirmative action during the civil rights era in 1965. It was used "as a method of redressing discrimination that had persisted in spite of civil rights laws and constitutional guarantees." (Brunner) The purpose of affirmative action was to end racial inequality and set a level playing field for all races. Affirmative action allowed minorities a fair chance to pursue education and career advancement. It originally was intended for temporary assistance and was supposed to crush existing racially biased ideas in society.
What was once a noble and valiant idea in 1965 has taken the very rights away it was intended to give. As affirmative action was introduced, many industries found the need to reduce standards in order to accept minorities. In many colleges and universities, a certain number of openings were set aside specifically for minorities because of the necessity to fill the racial quota for college populations. Because of this quota, many educational institutions were forced to lower their standards. The first court case against affirmative action was brought to the Supreme Court because of this.
Allan Bakke was denied admission to be considered to University of California-Davis Medical School. In offer to be accepted, a student must have no less than a 2. 5 GPA, have good science grades, and have high MCT scores, letters of recommendation, and numerous extra-curricular activities. If all of their prerequisites are met, an applicant then must participate in an interview with the college. Bakke scored 468 out of a total of 500 points on his interview and was not accepted. He then applied again the next year and received 549 out of 600 points, but was again turned away.
Afterward Bakke had found out that 16 students with lower test scores were accepted before him. All 16 students were considered ethnic minorities and were accepted based on their color of skin, as allowed by the policies of affirmative action. Bakke took his case to the Supreme Court, arguing he was not treated equally and was turned away because of his ethnicity. The Supreme Court found that in the case of the University of California Regents v. Bakke, the defendant's equal protection rights were indeed violated. Section 1 of Amendment XIV of the United States Constitution reads: " All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.
No state shall make or enforce any law, which shall abridge the privilege or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." If selection preferences are really meant to assist the disadvantaged, they should be given by the degree of disadvantage they faced and not solely determined by race or gender. If we base our decisions on race or gender, we turn our back on the group that truly needs assistance: the low-income family. Race is present in every level of society, the lower class, the middle class, and the upper class. Then why should middle- and upper-class minorities benefit today with special privileges when they may have not been personally affected by discrimination? There are no policies or procedures of affirmative action that prove an individual deserves special privileges. In theory, a wealthy minority citizen would receive more advantages in society than an underprivileged or low-income white male.
In this case, the underprivileged is in more need, but the determination of the benefits is solely decided by ethnicity and not by proven hardship or financial need. The Center for Equal Opportunity has expressed their disapproval of affirmative action specifically because it has been an unnecessary benefit for wealthy minority business owners. The most disadvantaged group of Americans are not blacks, Hispanics or women-they are the low-income individuals who are underprivileged. In addition, affirmative action lowers the standards of excellence.
The only quality that has value under affirmative action is race and gender. For example, in 1985 UC-Berkley admitted 317 black students within the affirmative action policies. Most of these students were admitted even thought they did not meet the academic entrance qualification. The SAT average for these 317 students was 952, while the average SAT score for the entire college population at UC-Berkley was 1200.
Out of the 317 students who were accepted through privileged policies, 70 percent of these black students did not graduate. My focus here is not the percentage of black students who did not graduate, but the focus of the acceptance of students solely on race rather than academic ability. In support, many argue that affirmative action has made equal opportunities for minorities. In an article in The Atlantic, Stanley Fish writes that affirmative action leveled the playing field for minorities and suggested that reverse discrimination ignores the history of inequality.
True, our history has proven to carry periods of wrongdoing and oppression of blacks, women and various ethnic minorities. But the playing field has been leveled for over 40 years. How many years must we use racism to end racism? Is it right to disadvantage someone who had absolutely nothing to do with the oppression of minority groups? Today, people are being disadvantaged based on their race, and this is wrong. Elizabeth Anderson, a professor at the University of Michigan, defends the use of racial diversity quotas as a means to decide their student population. In an article printed by the New York University Law Review, Anderson argues that racial integration in society serves as a way to tear down racial barriers created from years of racial and gender oppression. However, there has not been any documented proof or benefit which warrants quotas to meet diversity requirements.
Miranda Osh ige McGowan, a professor at the University of Minnesota who wrote Diversity of What? , contends that using diversity as a reason to accept students of minority races shows no significant benefit: "The racial and ethnic categories universities use to promote diversity fail to reflect educationally relevant dimensions of diversity." (McGowan) Affirmative action policies that use diversity as a necessary reason to assign racial quotas are unjustifiable. Rather than continuing with affirmative action the way it is now, there are other options to implement that would have a more beneficial impact on minority groups. For example, Florida and Texas have implemented systems where the top 10 percent of each high school are allowed to obtain special considerations. This would allow the truly disadvantaged to gain special privileges based on their merit.
It would also allow for more racially diverse populations. These forms of admission policies have actually come close to the number of racial diversity, if not more, than the original policies had generated through affirmative action. Affirmative action, in its original creation, served as a leveler of all races and genders. Many members of minorities have found the benefit of advancing in a career, acceptance to schools, and approval for financial aid.
But when we, as a society, require less from people and accept them solely on the color of their skin or gender rather than their ability or character, we are lowering our standards of excellence. Reverse discrimination is not an answer for ending discrimination. It is time to consider a change in the policies of affirmative action or to abolish those policies altogether. Bibliography King, Martin Luther, Jr.
I have a dream. 28 Aug 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Peaceful Warrior. Pocket Books, NY 1968. Memphis Educational Computer Connectivity Alliance.
web University of California Regents V. Bakke, 438 U. S. 265 (1975). Finlay. com 18 Nov 2002 web States Constitution.
Amendment XIV, Section 1 Brunner, Borgia "Bakke and Beyond: A History and Timeline of Affirmative Action." Infoplease. com 20 Nov 2002. Family Education Network web McGowan, Miranda Oh sige. "Diversity of What?" In Robert Post and Michael Rog in. Race and Representation: Affirmative Action (New York: Zone Books, 1998), pp. 237-250 Fish, Stanley "Reverse Racism, or How the Pot Got to Call the Kettle Black," The Atlantic, November 1993 Anderson, Elizabeth.
"Integration, Affirmative Action, and Strict Scrutiny," NYU Law Review, 77 (2002): 1195-1271.