Audience: US CongressOnce upon a time, there were two people who went to an interview for only one job position at the same company. The first person attended a prestigious and highly academic university, had years of work experience in the field and, in the mind of the employer, had the potential to make a positive impact on the companies performance. The second person was just starting out in the field and seemed to lack the ambition that was visible in his opponent. Who was chosen for the job?, you ask.
Well, if the story took place before the mid-sixties, the answer would be obvious. However, with the adoption of the social policy known as affirmative action, the answer becomes unclear. After the United States passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it became apparent that certain business traditions, such as seniority status and aptitude tests, prevented total equality in employment. Therefore, president Lyndon Johnson decided to do something to remedy these flaws. In 1965 he issued an ex!ecutive order that required federal contractors to take “affirmative action” to ensure that applicants are employedwithout regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin. When LBJ signed that order, he enacted one of the most discriminating pieces of legislature in the history of the United States.Order now
Affirmative action was created in an effort to help minorities leap the discriminative barriers that were prevalent when the bill was first enacted, in 1965. At this time the country was in the wake of nation wide civil-rights demonstrations, and racial tensions was at its peak. White males, who controlled the hiring and firing of employees, occupied most of the corporate and managerial positions. The US government believed that these employers were discriminating against minorities and believed that there was no better time than the present to bring about change. When the civil rights law passed, minorities, especially African-Americans believed they should receive retribution for the years of discrimination they had endured.
The government responded by passing laws to aid them in attaining better employment as reprieve for the previous two-hundred years of suffering their race endured at the hands of the white man. To many, this made sense. Supporters of affirmative action asked, “Why not let the government help them get better jobs, after all the white man was responsible for their suffering”. While all this may be true, there is another question to be asked. Are we truly responsible for the years of persecution that African-Americans were submitted to? The answer is yes and no. It is true that the white man is partly responsible for the suppression of the African-American race.
However, the individual white male is not. It is just as unfair and suppressive to hold many white males responsible for past persecution now as it was to discriminate against many African-Americans in the generations before. Why should an honest, hard working, open minded, white male be suppressed, today, for past injustice? Affirmative action accepts the idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Do two wrongs make a right?Affirmative action supporters make one large assumption when defending the policy. They assume that minority groups want help.
This, however, may not always be the case. It is my belief that they fought to attain equality, not special treatment. To them, the acceptance of special treatment is an admittance of inferiority. They ask,” Why can’t I become successful on my own? Why do I need laws to help me get a job?” African-Americans want to be treated as equals, not incompetents.
Thousands of white males, who do not discriminate, are being punished because of those who do. The Northern Natural Gas Company of Omaha, Nebraska was forced by the government to release sixty-five white male workers to make room for minority employees in 1977. Five major Omaha corporations reported that the number of white managers fell 25% in 1969 due to restrictions put on them when affirmative action was adopted. You ask,” What did these white males do to bring about their termination?” The only crime that they were guilty of was being white. It hardly seems fair to punish so many innocent men for the crimes of a relative few.
But the injustice doesn’t end there. After the white male has been fired, he has to go out and find a new job to support his family that depended on the company to provide health care and a retirement plan in return for years of hard work. Now, because of affirmative action, this white male, and the thousands like him, require more skills to !get the same job than a lesser-qualified black man needs. This is, for all intents and purposes, discrimination, and it is a law that our government strictly enforces. Do not get the impression that affirmative action is only present in the workplace.
It is also very powerful in education. Just as a white male employee needs more credentials to get a job than his minority opponent, a white male student needs more or better skills to get accepted at a prestigious university than a minority student. There are complete sections on college applications dedicated to race and ethnic background. Colleges must now have a completely diverse student body, even if that means some, more qualified students, must be turned away.
A perfect example of this can be found at the University of California at Berkeley. A 1995 report released by the university said that 9. 7% of all accepted applicants were African-American. Only 0. 8% of these African-American students were accepted by academic criteria alone.
36. 8% of the accepted applicants were white. Of these accepted white students, 47. 9% were accepted on academic criteria alone. That means that appr!oximately sixty times more African-American students were accepted due to non-academic influences than white students.
It seems hard to believe that affirmative action wasn’t one of these outside influences. Another interesting fact included in the 1995 report said that the average grade point average for a rejected white student was 3. 66 with an average SAT score of 1142. The average grade point average for an accepted African-American was 3. 66 with an average SAT score of 1030.
These facts show just how many gifted students fall between the cracks because of affirmative action. I believe that the problem has been identified; affirmative action is becoming a form of reverse discrimination. Society should work towards broad based economic policies like public investment, national health reform, an enlarged income tax credit, child support assurance, and other policies benefiting families with young children. Widely supported programs that promote the interests of both lower and middle class Americans and deliver benefits to minorities and whites on the basis of their economic status, and not their race or ethnicity. This will do more to reduce minority poverty than the current, narrowly based, poorly supported policies that single out minority groups.
However, if this, or another remedy is not taken sometime in the near future, and affirmative action continues to separate minority groups from whites, we can be sure to see racial tension reach points that our generation has never seen.