Affirmative action is a social policy created to promote the welfare of minorities by supporting the idea that individuals are all created equal and should not be judged by race or gender. Therefore, in situations like job and university applications, we should consider minorities to be as feasible a choice for hire as a white male candidate, taking into consideration their background. In short, it tries to give minorities that have been at a disadvantage their whole life, an opportunity to equal the playing field’ by providing a broader context by which to measure an applicant or prospective employee.
In the end, however, this goal is not realized. Instead, superficial quotas’ are established and the discrimination that was once placed on the minorities now turns the other way. One of the arguments against affirmative action is that it injures white men and violates their rights. If were to take a closer look at the affirmative action laws, we can see why this would be true. For example, let’s take a hypothetical situation of two males, one white and another individual who happens to be a minority, both sending in college applications to Harvard to compete for admission.
Unfortunately, the university only has one available spot and must decide between the white individual and the minority. The white male has slightly better grades and quite a few more volunteer hours, while both of them excelled in sports and completed two foreign languages. Under the current affirmative action policies, the minority would probably get the final position because of the perceived need for ethnic diversity in the college atmosphere, despite the fact that he did not have the stronger academic credentials. Would this be considered just?
In this case not only would affirmative action be serving an injustice to the white individual, but it would also help create a loophole by indirectly establishing a legal form of discrimination. The counterpoint to this argument is that although affirmative action creates a larger obstacle for white men to achieve, such measures are necessary in order to break the cycle of de facto employment and school discrimination. However, this does not seem to be a valid counterpoint. If we take a look at another hypothetical situation we can see why it is not plausible.
Imagine that there are two individuals competing in a race, one a white male named Bob and the other a black male named John. Bob had six months to prepare for the race while John had a ball and chain tied to his leg for the entire six months. Without a doubt, I would believe that Bob would win this race. However, if we interpolate affirmative action into this analogy, we would justifiably be assisting John. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t that we are helping John, the problem is the way we are helping him.
Instead of releasing John from his ball and chain, affirmative action would be placing a heavier ball and chain on Bob forcing John to meet a lower expectation, thus not inherently removing the ball and chain, but rather using it as an excuse to justify his shortcomings. Implicitly, this would then create animus and resentment against Bob, rather than empathy and compassion for his disadvantage. Although the motive behind affirmative action is moral and just, in practice it seems to fail and causes an even more unequal treatment of race and sexuality.
The unequal treatment brought on by affirmative action brings us to the second argument against it: Affirmative action itself violates the principles of equality. The main goal behind affirmative action is to ensure that all individuals are treated equally, not to create more inequality. However, white individuals are simply used as a means to an end and unfortunately more discrimination is created. If we were to take a look at both analogies above, the white male was treated unequally and discriminated against because of his ethnicity. This goes directly against the principles that affirmative action was created for.
The counterpoint of this argument is essentially that, “Although it is distasteful to consider race and sex into account when dealing with individuals in employment situations, the unfortunate reality is that in the real world racial and sexual factors go a long way toward determining what life prospects an individual has… Formal, colorblind equality has to be infringed now if we are ever to achieve real, meaningful racial and sexual quality. ” Unfortunately however, just like a firefighter may not fight fire with fire, you also cannot fight discrimination with even more discrimination.
The U. S. Constitution, our most powerful and sacred document that holds all the power in the government, is intended to be colorblind. The 14th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution guarantees “No state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of laws. ” Affirmative action seems to be unconstitutional as it ignores the phrase “equal protection. ” Instead of treating minorities like equals, it treats them like they are better than other members of society and, in particular, puts white males in a situational disadvantage like minorities once were.
In effect, it’s a form of reverse discrimination. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter what the underlying motive justifying it is. The final argument against affirmative action is this: Nondiscrimination will achieve our social goals; stronger affirmative action is unnecessary. This argument suggests that the Civil Rights Act is enough to end job and school discrimination. Employers should attempt to attract minority applicants and to make sure that their screening process does not involve any implicit racist or sexual assumptions.
When programs like affirmative action allow minorities to slide through the cracks, it places minorities at a disadvantage to compete in society. The main problem for minorities is poor education facilities and resources, lower academic expectations, and general apathy by the larger majority towards the needs and concerns of the underserved and poor, which most of the time are comprised of ethnic minorities. Urban schools are consistently ranked at the bottom of all categories in terms of crime, drug use, teenage pregnancy, and dropout rates, which once again are usually comprised of ethnic minorities.
This is where the energy and financial resources of affirmative action should goto repair the urban education facilities and expand and provide wider social and economic resources. In essence, the government should try to attack the root of the problem, which is inferior and unequal teaching institutions and access to better resources, rather than simply trying to fix the symptoms of the problem later down the road by instituting a form of social engineering that puts individuals against each other, which in turn breeds animosity and resentment among individuals along racial and social lines.
The counterpoint of this argument states that, “Without affirmative action, progress often stops. The percentage of minorities and women employed by those subject to federal affirmative action requirements has risen much higher than it has elsewhere. ” However, this argument is not compelling, as the best way to increase productivity and improve the economy is to hire on merit. Hiring based on something other than objective merit may result in economic inefficiency and a less qualified staff.
If minorities have a qualified resume and are available, they will meet the criteria of the employer. Once again, it is more effective to treat the disease itself, rather than to stoop down to the same level and discriminate to treat the symptoms. In athletics, for example, in spite of past discrimination blacks have excelled, not because standards were lowered but because barriers were eliminated.
Now more than ever blacks comprise the largest ethnic group in professional sports and have come to dominate some of the most lucrative sports such as football and basketball, and are now using their earned social capital to give back to their communities to help others along the way. This is a prime example of how minorities can be helped without lowering the standard by which others are also measured by. To improve our standards as a whole, we must remove the ball and chain on minorities, rather than adding a heavier ball and chain on whites.