In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson used the term affirmative action to inform federal contractors to treat job-applicants and employees without regards to their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin (Lyndon B. Johnson). In the preceding year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed simply to make laws color-blind . However, such movement went further than merely giving equal opportunities to everyone, it progressed into the real meaning of affirmative action, which is measures taken by the United States to give opportunities to minorities by favors such as hiring and promotion, college admission, and the awarding of government contracts. Such policies did not express the true meaning of equal opportunities, which was introduced in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but rather took its own steps into a form of discrimination. Equal opportunities means that it should not be given with regards to the race, color, religion, gender, and national origin of the recipients but should be based solely on the merit of the individual. Instead of practicing affirmative action, which produces an effect of discrimination, reverse discrimination, and the inability of competition, the society should help the minorities to become more qualified and, the unqualified shouldn t be given the chance unless the opportunity requires the employment of a specific minority.
Affirmative action was originally designed to help minorities to get a better chance to compete with everyone, but it has gone too far and produced a sense of discrimination. Since all types of discrimination, which is the act of making distinctions on the basis of class or category without regard to individual merit, is outlawed in the United States, there can be no prejudice involved in making public decisions. Therefore, by saying you are hired because you re black is relevant to saying, you are fired because you re black , but in a more positive manner. Racial-preference is felt by many of the minorities as an act of prejudice and one even said, I wouldn t accept a job or college admission based on color. I would not want the stigma, the cloud hanging over me. There could be no greater insult (Ward Connerly). On the other hand, those who don t belong to the minority groups were being reverse-discriminated. Over the decade since affirmative action has been enacted, the non-minorities are losing out on positions such as jobs and college admissions, which are strictly reserved for the minorities, even though they have higher academic achievements as the minorities. One event of reverse discrimination occurred with Jerry and Ellen Cook, whose son had been rejected by the medical school in San Diego despite the grades so good that he got into Harvard (Terry, RPO). After it was proven that whites were being passed over for admission in favor of blacks and Latinos with lesser academic records and test scores (Terry, RPO) by simple college admission statistics, an anti-affirmative action activist has said that It was preference, pure and simple (Ward Connerly). Once again, affirmative action has been proven as discrimination and everybody should only be judge by his or her academic abilities. However, those who has less qualification should have assistance to make them more qualified.
You do not take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, you are free to compete with all the others and still justly believe that you have been completely fair (President Lyndon B. Johnson). What President Johnson has said instigated the affirmative action movement. However it shouldn t be necessary to favor the less qualified minorities over those who are qualified. In order to be fair , as Johnson had said, the minorities should be helped or simply work harder to become more qualified. As for someone who had trouble passing the bar exam, which is a police promotion test, he said, I flunked the bar exam twice . I had to keep studying harder and harder and harder. I passed it the third time . That s it. Study Harder (Mayor Richard M Daley). By assistance and hard work, the minorities can earn themselves the qualifying merit. One reason for such an alternative to affirmative action is that it was proven to be not working and therefore the less qualified shouldn t be given the chance.
From simple statistics, affirmative action can be proven to be useless. For example, Under affirmative action, 42% of the blacks at the University of California at Berkeley dropped out of the years 1988-91, as opposed to only 16% or the whites (Ward Connerly). Even though that affirmative action has been the most beneficial to the minority students in college admission, they weren t able to compete equally with everyone else since their standards of college admission has been lowered. And some critics of affirmative action have added, it says minorities can t earn admission into prestigious schools without getting extra points (Terry, RPO). Thus, unqualified people shouldn t be competing with those who are qualified because they don t meet the same qualifying standards and, therefore, there will be disadvantages to the less qualified. And with the consideration of being fair, people should always be judged based on their achievements and in the mean time, no prejudice should be allowed. However, racial-preference can be condoned only when there are specific requirements or goals to favor specific minorities group.
Generally, there are two types of dealings with affirmative action: setting a goal or establishing a quota. In setting a goal, for example, a company might advertise job openings on Spanish-language radio shows (Gross). A goal means that a company would not hire less qualified people but only qualified minorities for a rational cause. However, by establishing a quota, companies restrict themselves to hiring minorities, even if they are less qualified. Therefore, people who were denied of their merit are deprived of their opportunity to compete in a country where it is guaranteed that all men are created equal .
In a country where fairness is an issue in the everyday debates, favoritism is a factor that must be factored out of the equation. Under affirmative action, the people are judged by who they are instead of what they ve done. Thus, it produces a sense of discrimination to either side (minorities or everybody else). To rectify the problems caused by affirmative action, less qualified people shouldn t be given a chance but should be assisted to be more qualified or simply, work harder. Especially in this land of opportunities, we must forget about the differences of people base on who they are, but look broader to people s merits.
Affirmative Action. Encarta Encyclopedia 1998 ed.
Glastris, Paul. The thin white line. U.S. News and World Report. August 1994: 53-54
Gross, Andrea. A Question of Fairness. LHY Select. March 1996: 2-5
Terry, Wallace. Racial Preferences are Outdated. Parade. May 1998.