Affirmative Action and its Effects

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 action.

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 discriminators?

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


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 once 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 relief.

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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