Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 10:56:43 PM
I firmly believe in the American ideal that all men and women are created equal. Unfortunately, in attempting to uphold this ideal, the narrow-minded bureaucracy of the 21st century has only sabotaged the veracity of that statement.
In 1961 President Kennedy first introduced the term ‘affirmative action’ into America’s repertoire, in order to begin to address the racial inequality that saturated the nation. To him, affirmative action meant ensuring that the civil rights of minorities were not infringed by the dominating will of the racial majority. But as well intentioned as this is, affirmative action has evolved over the years into a legal principal that perpetuates reverse discrimination and highlights racial tensions instead of diffusing them.
The most well known implementation of affirmative action is in education and in the work world. Affirmative action allocates a certain number of positions to be filled based on minority-status rather than true merit. By no means am I suggesting a lack of correlation between race and merit, but many schools and businesses do make a candidate’s minority-status a factor in the evaluation process. Sometimes this can lead to underqualified minority candidates being given preference over their Caucasian counterparts.
This practice not only defies the basic principles of fairness, but is also conflicting with the American belief that all men and women are created equal. If all are created equal, one might ask, then why are some given preferential treatment based on the color of their skin?
Besides this fundamental hypocrisy of reverse discrimination, affirmative action also fails to remedy the issues of civil inequality. It was created to bridge the gap between Caucasian-American and minority-America, yet in reality has been more effective in heightening the tension between the two groups.
After slavery was abolished, radicals like W.E.B. Du Bois demanded immediate legal action to enforce the new civil rights legislation. Men like Booker T. Washington, however, called for a different approach. They preached that it was essential for African Americans to prove their true value by educating themselves and securing a firm economic role in order to garner respect from their fellow Americans.
There are those who, for whatever reason, have an inherent distrust and distaste for those who are different. These men and women of stagnant dispositions will not be won over by a government mandate of racial equality. The only way they could possibly come to see the error of their thinking is by being proven wrong.
Affirmative action may give new opportunities to minorities, but these new opportunities are meaningless if the prejudices of the racial majority are not erased. And these prejudices can only be overturned if minorities work their way to the top without assistance, through all of the discrimination. Yes, this gives unfair expectations to minorities: not only do they have to work diligently to match the majority, but they have to exceed the efforts of their counterparts in order to demonstrate their worth and value. It is, however, the only way.
Affirmative action is detrimental to the minority cause, giving fuel to those whose prejudices limit the progress of minorities in the first place. Racial discrimination must be stopped, but no legal mandate can do that.