How Affirmative Action Effects Us All


The roots of affirmative action can be traced back to the
passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act where legislation
redefined public and private behavior. The act states that
to discriminate in private is legal, but anything regarding
business or public discrimination is illegal ("Affirmative"
13). There are two instances when opposing affirmative
action might seem the wrong thing to do. Even these two
cases don't justify the use of affirmative action. First is
the nobility of the cause to help others. Second,
affirmative action was a great starter for equality in the
work place. The most promanite variable in deciding
affirmative action as right or wrong, is whether or not
society is going to treat people as groups or individuals.
Affirmative action is a question of morals. The simplicity
to form two morals that are both correct but conflicting is
the reason for the division of our nation on affirmative
Affirmative action is very noble when looking at who
benefits from the outcome. Take a closer look at
affirmative action. The people that are involved and the
damage it takes on our society surfaces many doubts. Taking
a closer look also stirs up a question of nobility that
needs to be answered before making a decision on
affirmative action. Does affirmative action simply change
who is discriminated against and makes it legal for the new

Coming from my point of view, the view of a white male,
this is a serious question. One example of this came to my
attention from Dave Shiflett who once worked at Rocky
Mountain News wrote "Rocky Mountain Hire". In this article
he tells about a new hiring strategy used at the Denver
news paper Rocky Mountain News. A memo was sent out
stating, "The job reviews of supervisors and others
involved in hiring should address race and sex. Each review
should have a hiring goal of at least half of our hires
being women and at least half non-white" (Shiflett 45).
Lets put this strategy to work. We have ten positions to
fill, these positions can be filled following the above
guidelines by hiring five black women. It can also be met
by hiring five white women and five non-white men.
Obviously to meet this goal successfully would mean to not
hire a white male (Shiflett 45). I strongly disagree with
my white fore fathers and society today who both address
race and sex when hiring. Using a persons skin color in
hiring is discrimination no matter how society looks at it.
At St. Bonaventure University the potential for reverse
discrimination became a reality. In May 1994, 22 faculty
members were fired, all were male. The president of the
university was very blunt about his motive, to protect the
small number of women on the university staff (Magner 18).
This was purely a discussion based on gender not
qualification. No matter how efficient these men were some
were fired for not being part of a certain minority. Gary
A. Abraham, who was fired as a tenured associate professor
stated, "It seems ludicrous that the university can rectify
its failure to engage in affirmative action on the backs of
its male faculty." Twelve of the men took their complaints
to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The
commission sided with the men and are even planning to
bring the university up on charges themselves (Magner 18).
Giving an employer the power to discriminate only towards
minorities is unfair and unethical. 

Now the question is who will the government protect?
Society can not consider its self fair when we are still
forming decisions based upon gender or race. It is not
noble to protect the jobs of women at Bonaventure
University simply there are not enough women on the roster.
We should protect the jobs of the experienced. We can not
form a new society from affirmative action and believe the
rights of all United States citizens will be upheld.
The whole idea behind affirmative action is to right the
wrongs of the past. Well, what about the individuals that
were not even born when this atrocity of discrimination was
going on. Society should not punish the youth for the
crimes of their white male forefathers. Thomas Sowell gave
an interesting story in his article "Free Markets vs.
Discrimination" about Albert Greuner. He had graduated from
Pensacola Naval photography school and was refused a job he
was more than qualified for. The reason Albert was denied
the position was based on the conduct of the other cadets
graduating from Pensacola(Sowell 69). These are the battles
that need to be fought. Stop employers from hiring in a
discriminatory fashion Not to just favor the group that has
been discriminated against in the past. 

Not only does it affect white males, but the recipients of
affirmative action suffer from negative side effects also.
There is an angry backlash that women and minorities feel
from affirmative action. There is also the effect of
pampering. It can make any individual lazy and unmotivated.
Affirmative action does nothing but build walls to separate
us more, and pollute our work atmosphere with tension. 

An angry backlash towards the recipients of affirmative
action appears prominently in the work place. An example of
affirmative action backlash comes from the article "When an
Advantage is Not an Advantage." "I recently got a large
chunk of government funding in a program that didn't even
have any sort of affirmative action ranking. Yet, almost
all men I talk to including my father, assume there was at
least some component of consideration given to me for being
female" (Cohen 18). Affirmative action weakens the spirit
of the individual by making them think the reason they got
the job or grant was because someone felt sorry for them.
Some women believe affirmative action will benefit them in
the beginning because there is an incentive to hire women.
This will do more to hinder than to help in the long run.
Here is a quote from an article opposing affirmative
action. "I think affirmative action helps to get a female
an interview but once on the interview and onc!
e on the job, it gives males a basis for their resentment
and skepticism of females..." (Cohen 18). This can cause
additional tension between men and women that was not there
before affirmative action. 

Another side effect is how pampering can make a person lazy
and unmotivated to excel. This is exactly what affirmative
action does. It makes sure that women and minorities are
pampered to make up for lost time. Well, lets take a look
at what all the pampering in the past has done for the
white male. Look at the college graduation numbers of
today. Eighty percent of blacks attending college graduate,
while only 55% of white college students graduate. These
numbers alone show what discrimination did to help the
white male to achieve a lazy attitude of "I don't need good
grades, I am white I'll get a god job." This is a dangerous
attitude in 1996, because in some situations a white male
needs to be over qualified to compensate for small "bonus
points" some minorities receive. By pampering any single
group the long-term disaster will outweigh the short term
Discrimination is not the problem that plagues society.
This is shown with the increase of women in the work force.
The number of women in the computer industry has increased
93%, in auto industry 89%, and in pharmaceuticals 78%
(Dunkle 44). Thirty years ago this was not the case, and
affirmative action forced American employers to open their
eyes to the benefits of diversity. "Affirmative action in
1995 is beginning to resemble Soviet Communism in 1969.
Outside the sheltered elites, the majority of people loathe
it. The circumstances in which it was dreamed up no longer
exist" (Sullivan E15). Now it is time to end affirmative
action and focus on what is holding down minorities today.
Let us turn our sites on poverty, poor family life, poor
schooling, for these problems are colorblind, and can
hinder an individuals chances for success more than
anything else. To equal the opportunity of minorities for
employment we should educate and prepare them, not force
them into the work force or universities.
Guadalupe Quintanilla, the assistant Vice President for
Academic Affairs for the University of Houston, stated,
"Affirmative action has been distorted and abused. We need
to take a second look at it. I think affirmative action has
opened a lot of doors, but it has been misrepresented. I'm
for opportunity, not special treatment. The majority of
people in this country are open-minded and willing to work
with people without considering their sex or color. So I
think we could do away with set asides" (Dunkel 42). 

Problems with equality in our work force and universities
can not be blamed completely on discrimination. The problem
today is colorblind poverty. Affirmative action actually
hurts the lower income individual of any minority group.
Thomas Sowell, in his 1990 book, Preferential Policies,
used an international survey of affirmative action programs
to show the consequences. "The benefits of affirmative
action went overwhelmingly to people who were already
better off., while the poorer members of the same groups
either did not gain ground or actually fell further behind"
(Richardson 4C). The wealthier neighborhoods have better
school systems, which in turn offer greater resources. If
we bring equality to our school systems, a rise in
minorities in the work force will soon follow.
Some universities here in the United States have based
enrollment on College Board's and SAT's or ACT's, none of
which show intelligence levels. These tests rather show the
standards of education that the individual has encountered.
The gap between mean SAT scores for black and whites is 938
for whites and 740 for blacks(Shipler 16) These test scores
sometimes become the discrimination against minorities.
Another form of evaluating students is where the
Universities and government need to focus, to establish a
standard in education that spans across all levels of
income. Affirmative action is definitely not the answer for
equality in this day in time. 

Affirmative action has balanced for thirty years on a moral
threat. It is now time to apply new moral threats, not
towards the employers and colleges but towards the
government. For it is the government that needs to change
its polices. The government needs to take action towards
the real problems of equality: poverty, not the bad white
man from the past. Affirmative action is simply the same
old discrimination in reverse. 

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