Affirmative Action: Solution or Confusion?Affirmative action is a plan designed to end discrimination by guaranteeingminorities will be hired, regardless of race or gender.
While our country hiressuch groups based upon these guarantees, the qualifications of such people areoccasionally overlooked. Many believe that affirmative action is a veryeffective plan; however, the population which opposes such action frequentlyincludes people of various minorities, as well as many others who have beenwronged by this plan In several cases, this plan causes minorities to beperceived as being under-qualified when hired; in addition, it also causes a newminority, the white male. Our government must acknowledge the fact thataffirmative action is not putting an end to discrimination; in all actuality,this plan has succeeded in creating new minorities, and more reasons fordiscrimination. Affirmative action frequently causes qualified employees to belooked down upon because some believe them to be “affirmative action hires”. Two of my female relatives are currently on the police force; as a result, Ihave encountered many discriminatory comments pertaining to their positions.
The first remark I usually receive suggests that they were hired for theirposition solely based on gender. Another comment which I usually receive is,”Well, being a woman probably didn’t hurt their resume. ” Both of my relativesare very good at their jobs; one was even on the popular television show, Cops. Neither of them are “wimps”, yet most males look down upon them as being hiredbecause of affirmative action. This type of criticism is received by manyminorities holding good jobs, whether they are qualified or not. To quoteWilliam Reynolds, assistant attorney general in the civil rights division:In many cases, affirmative action takes away from legitimateminority success.
People look at the black bankerdowntown who has made it on his own and say, “He got hisjob because of affirmative action. ” Or, an employer hires afew talented minority people who would have succeededanyway and says, “Those are my affirmative-action hires. “(26)In this particular case, affirmative action may, or may not, have been thereason for hiring, yet that is what most perceive. People of any race or gendershould be able to hold a job where their colleagues respect them as equals, notas “affirmative-action hires”.
My cousin, Christine, has also added to my knowledge on how well affirmativeaction works at the hospital where she works. One of the administratorshappened to be a black male–who was very qualified for his position–yet mostof the staff accused him of being promoted because of his race. This affectedhis morality to such an extent that he resigned shortly after his promotion. Another black female–who was hired because of her race and gender–is notqualified for her position, yet is esteemed by her colleagues for heraccomplishments.
It seems that minorities are accepted to a certain extent,until they become someone’s boss. It is also a scary situation when a personhas an under-qualified surgeon performing surgery on them because of affirmativeaction. Affirmative action insists that the employer must “avoid the kind ofunnecessary escalation of criteria for selection and promotion which hassometimes been used to keep certain classes of people from entering themainstream of our economic life” (Berry 19). This aspect of the plan createsmore openings for minorities; however, it also suggests that the standardsshould be maintained at a low to guarantee these openings.
In my opinion, ifthe standards for any position are raised, the productivity and accuracy of thecountry will rise accordingly. When the policy of affirmative action is toalmost lower the standards of our society, this sacrifices quality for the sakeof equality. Roy Wilkins, a former Executive Director of the NAACP, stated tothe congress:Our association has never been in favor of a quota system. We believe the quota system is unfair whether it is used foror against blacks.
. . We feel people ought to be hired becauseof their ability, irrespective of their color. . . We wantequality, equality of opportunity and employment on thebasis of ability.
(qtd. in Reynolds 26)If the people which affirmative action was made for are against most of it’sprinciples–and the white male loses jobs because of it–why is the majority sosupportive of this plan?One of the most powerful arguments for affirmative action is based upon claimsfrom minorities who believe that they deserve a certain amount of compensationbecause of the past discrimination which they have received. Diana Axelson,chairperson of the Department of Philosophy of Spelman College, states this inher essay, “Affirmative Action Compensates for Past Discrimination”, by claiming,”The first form of compensation which seems appropriate is compensations. . . forinjuries they themselves have received as a result of individualized orinstitutionalized racism and sexism” (33).
In my opinion, the blame of pastwrongs should not be put upon the employer, nor should something which happenedin the past be a factor in hiring practices. To quote Michael Levin, professorof philosophy:Other past wrongs have left their traces-acts of theft,despoliation, fraud, anti-Semitism-yet society has noorganized policy of rectifying those wrongs. It surely seemsthat if the consequences of one kind of wrong should not beallowed to unfold, neither should those of any other. (40)Although society may sympathize with past wrongs, it is not any employer’sobligation to compensate these people; further, it would be a great injustice tosociety’s majority to ignore them in order to accomplish this. Affirmative action is a successful plan in theory, but hiring a certainpercentage of minorities–qualified or unqualified–has turned into a largerproblem than what already existed. In all actuality, the hiring requirements ofaffirmative action have caused the white male to become a minority because theycannot be hired unless the required percentage of minorities are alreadyemployed.
A more effective method of hiring fairly, without discrimination, maybe a faceless and nameless interview. If perspective employees could send intheir resumes, be assigned a number, fill out a written interview, and be hiredentirely based on their qualifications, this would solve many of the problems. Using this method to hire and promote would guarantee the most qualified peoplewould be hired, and there could be no accusations of choosing a person solely ontheir race or gender. We live in a country where a certain percent of the workforce is hired based entirely on their race or gender, not their qualifications. It is quite obvious that affirmative action does not fulfill the intendedpurpose; contrary to its objective, this plan has only created morediscrimination than could ever be imagined.