In recent years preferential hiring has become an issue of


great interest. Preferential hiring, which was devised to
create harmony between the different races and sexes, has
divided the lines even more. Supporters on both sides seem
fixed in their positions and often refuse to listen to the
other group's platform. In this essay, the recipients of
preferential hiring will be either black or female, and the
position in question will be a professorship on the
university level. The hirings in question are cases that
involve several candidates, all roughly equal in their
qualifications (including experience, education, people
skills, etc.), with the only difference being race and/or
sex. What we have here is a case of predetermined
preference. The two candidates in question are equal in all
ways, except race. The black applicant is selected, not
because of skills or qualifications (in that case the white
man would have provided the same result), but for his skin
color. This seems to be blatant discrimination, but many
believe it is justified. Some feel retribution for years of
discrimination is reason enough, but that issue will be
discussed later. First, lets focus on why this is not a
solution to creating an unbiased society. 

 Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream: "I have a dream that
my four little 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." He desired a world without
discrimination, without prejudice, and without stereotypes.
The fundamental lesson years of discrimination should have
taught is that to give anyone preference based on skin
color, sex, or religious beliefs is, in one word, wrong. As
Martin Luther King Jr. stated, judgment based on skin color
must not exist. All preferential hiring does is keep
judgments based on skin color alive. Race and sex should
not be issues in today's society, yet preferential hiring
continues to make these factors issues by treating
minorities as a group rather than as individuals. More
importantly preferential hiring may actually fuel, rather
than extinguish, feelings of racial hostility. Applying the
concept of preferential hiring to another situation may
help elucidate its shortcomings. A party of white men and a
party of black men both arrive at a restaurant at the same
time and only one table is free. The headwaiter can only
seat one party and must make a decision. According to
preferential hiring theory it is necessary to seat the
black party first, since historically blacks have been
discriminated against when seated in restaurants. In
another situation, a white man and a black man are both
equidistant from the last seat on the bus. Both men are the
same age, have no medical problems, and are equal in all
ways except skin color. Should the black man get the seat
since in the past black men have been discriminated
against? We could continue this practice for several
centuries before the debt we owe for depriving blacks of a
seat on the bus would be paid. Perhaps these examples are
invalid. It could be said that jobs are a different issue.
They help define social status and provide economic
well-being. They might even boost self-confidence,
something that discrimination has stolen. Two points must
be considered before moving any further. First, blacks may
learn better from a black, and women may learn better from
a woman. Second, hiring women and blacks will provide role
models for others. The first point Thomson quickly concedes
as likely to be false. Discussion about the second point
however is required, and will, in effect, serve to negate
the first point as well. 

 First, lets create a character, Bill. Bill is grossly
overweight and unattractive. Studies have shown that many
employers discriminate (whether subconsciously or not),
against both overweight and unattractive individuals.
Unfortunately for Bill, he fits into both categories. His
inability to land a job reflective of his abilities,
coupled with years of public humiliation through jokes made
at his expense, has destroyed his self-esteem. This has
caused him to accept as fact the notion that he will never
be able to reach his goals. Few "Bill" success stories
exist, only further plummeting his self-confidence. This
example sounds strikingly similar to a common argument for
preferential hiring. I have been discriminated against,
which has caused my self esteem to fall, and now I am
stuck, with few role models to follow. Bill's success has
probably been thwarted by more sources than the today's
average black or female, but there is no provision in
preferential hiring for him. Just like no one can control
their race or skin color, Bill's obesity is caused by a
medical problem beyond treatment. Selective preferential
hiring won't work. Even if one doesn't accept the fact that
preferential hiring discriminates against the white male,
one must accept the fact that preferential hiring
discriminates against Bill.
 Now let's assume that this argumentation is invalid for
one reason or another. Let's assume the lack of
self-confidence and self-respect that today's blacks and
women are suffering from may deserve some compensation. But
before continuing, it seems necessary to narrow the range
of who qualifies for compensation for suffering. The issue
at hand concerns today's blacks and today's women. Today's
society is not responsible for incidents preceding its own
existence. Other opinions may not coincide with this
belief, but I do not feel any responsibility for the
positive or negative actions of my grandfather or my
father. However, as a member of society I will take
responsibility for the positive or negative actions of
society today. For example, today's society is not
responsible for blacks or women's lack of voting rights
years ago. If for some reason we were responsible, how
could this possibly be repaid? Make a black or female vote
count two or three times? No, this is preposterous. We have
canceled our debts, simply by giving them a right to vote
and a say in the election of their representatives. Now
that is not to say that today's society is not responsible
for the discrimination of blacks and women in recent years.
But, even prior to the lifetime of those that would be most
affected by preferential hiring: both blacks and women have
had the right to vote; discrimination based on race, color,
religion, or sex has been illegal; segregation has ended;
and the civil rights movement has taken place. Clearly, we
live in a different United States than out predecessors.
 Today's blacks and women may still experience some
repercussions of discrimination, but for decades laws have
been enforced prohibiting discrimination. If someone
discriminates against a black today, charges could be filed
against that person and that person will be punished. That
is the bottom line. Preferential treatment cannot be given
to victims of all crimes. It would become chaotic trying
pin the level of preference a victim should get for
different crimes. For a moment let's digress to the case of
Judy. Judy was raped. All society can offer her is the
punishment of her rapist, if her rapist is found guilty.
Sure, Judy will probably suffer for the rest of her life
believing that it was her fault; she will lose self-respect
and self-confidence. But is Judy going to receive
preferential treatment when she walks into an office and
applies for a job? There is no space on a job application
for Judy to say: "I should receive special consideration,
because several years ago I was raped. This rape has caused
me years of anguish, and now I lack the self-confidence I
once had. All this has cause me to underachieve in school
and in life. Please consider this when you review my
application." If Judy, who lost her self-confidence and
self-respect through the violation of her rights by a
member of society, is given no compensation for her trauma,
why should blacks or women? All society owes the victim of
a crime is that the criminal be punished if in fact a law
was breached. 

 Possibly their case is more powerful. Not all women (or
men) are raped each year, but most blacks and women have
been discriminated against at some point in their life.
Could we possibly owe the victims of discrimination

 If, as Thomson claims, all blacks and females have, as a
consequence of their past lack of rights, suffered a lack
of self-confidence and self-respect, then why
preferentially give them jobs? Jobs have no direct
correlation to a lack of self-respect and self-confidence.
Indirectly, yes, maybe many blacks and women have not been
able to achieve their highest goals due to this lack of
self-confidence and are therefore handicapped when they
enter the job market. But it seems to me that if we were to
solve the problem and provide repayment with the loosening
of qualifications necessary, or even not the loosening but
the offering of preferential treatment when hiring blacks
and women, this does not solve the problem. It seems to
make more sense to dig deeper; to find the root of the
problem and change it. Since we can't go back and change
history, eliminating the poor treatment blacks and women of
the past, then the next best thing seems to be to reverse
the effects of discrimination in the present. 

 The lack of presence in the upper levels of the job
market is not a direct effect of discrimination. It is, as
Thomson states, a lack of self-confidence and self-respect
that has kept toady's blacks and women down. So the logical
solution would be to renew their self-respect, and to
restore their self-confidence. It seems like too
superficial of a solution to simply give blacks and women
preference when it comes to hiring. Certainly it would not
bolster my self-confidence to know that I received a job
over another equally qualified individual, simply due to my
skin color or sex. I would feel as if again race and sex
were dominating decisions. Wasn't the original goal to
eliminate the issue of skin color and sex from all

 Thomson, in her essay on preferential hiring, tells us
that she is not happy with the solution of preferential
hiring in its entirety: "If there were some appropriate way
in which the community could make amends to its blacks and
women, some way which did not require depriving anyone of
anything he has a right to, then that would be the best
course to take." There must be a better way. Psychological
treatment would help give the victims of poor treatment
renewed self-confidence, providing them the confidence to
go out and try to earn a job, rather than get handed a job.
The feeling of accomplishment that results from earning a
job would help improve self-confidence. 

 But now another issue arises. We would owe all victims of
crime some sort of compensation. Maybe there is another way
to elevate the status of minorities without bringing the
issue of race or sex into the arena. If what is desired by
preferential hiring is a jump-start to promote diversity in
the workplace and in society, where race and sex are
irrelevant, why not enact a plan where preferential hiring
is not based on these factors? Instead, why not give
preference to underrepresented towns or areas of town
(possibly by zip code), to those that are financially
burdened, and to those with handicaps. This would help
relieve the pressure of race and sex in these issues. The
underprivileged will still be given a jump-start, and
diversity will still be promoted. 

 However, this solution breaches another point that any
form of categorization of people should not occur. The
solutions presented are more acceptable than preferential
hiring, though they still have their defects. Why not bury
the issue of race? Discrimination is waning. It has become
a crime to discriminate. Soon blacks and women will become
full members of the job world. There are plenty of role
model success stories available. There is no reason to
believe that anyone, in today's society, cannot achieve
whatever they wish. Hard work and diligence will pay off
and eventually race and sex will no longer be issues. The
goal is to make race and sex irrelevant, and preferential
hiring only keeps these issues alive. Let's try to live in
a society modeled after Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream, and
I believe the issues of race and sex will disappear,
leaving people to be judged solely on their character.

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