Friday, October 9, 2009

Is Affirmative Action Good for Everyone?

Before I start I want to admit that I am an American white male. Many who read this may just write me off as being racist or unfair. Others will think I just don't understand the plight of minorities, but all I want in this world is equality for all mankind. I see affirmative action at this point doing exactly the opposite of what its original intentions were.

 
Affirmative action was started by President Kennedy under Executive Order No. 10925. The purpose of this was to ensure that when a person was considered for a government job that no one was denied by their color, religion, or gender but by their qualifications. This of course was a good idea, because everyone does deserve a fair shot at any position. If you are qualified to perform a duty and are able to function on a daily basis at that position, you have all the rights in the world regardless of who you pray to or what you look like. Of course in the 1960's this was easier said than done. Racism, was of course everywhere in our country, and forcing people all of a sudden to follow this directive by a President would not be taken lightly.

        In 1965 President Johnson took affirmative action to a whole other level with Executive_Order_11246 . This order forced any company doing work for the US federal government, with the government, or by the government to hire a certain percentage of employees of different races regardless of qualifications. This is where this program went completely hay wire. This was a good short term plan that should have gradually been scaled back into Kennedy's original plan. However, once you raise the bar you can't go back, especially when it comes to race relations.

      With Johnson's plan, it gives great opportunities to minorities, which I have no problem with in the short term. Minorities at that time had very little opportunity and they needed a jump start to get experience in important positions in society. The keyword to all of this is "short term". Long term, this program is no different than the inequalities that were placed upon minorities prior to the 1960's.

       What this program does is give people jobs because of their race, not because of their qualifications. Remember, under affirmative action, companies need to hire a certain percentage of people based on their race. If there are not enough qualified members from a certain race, it doesn't matter. That company still needs to hire based on those percentages. That leads to people who are unqualified in positions they don't deserve. While those who are qualified are out of a job.

        I want those who read this to take a minute and have that last paragraph sink in a little bit. Prior to the 60's, we will all agree that whites got jobs that they didn't deserve solely because they were white. Many of them were unqualified but got the job because of their race. How is that different from affirmative action? Its not.

        Today affirmative action is creating the same inequalities for white people that society created for minorities prior to the 1960's. Obviously there are still many issues regarding race in our country. At this point, the thought that your race can keep you from getting a job is not nearly what it was in the 1960's, at least not for minorities. There are many examples of people who are more than qualified for a position, but lose out because they are not the right race. There are many examples of companies not getting government contracts because they don't have the right mix of people who are racially diverse.

       As a white male I have no issues losing a position to a person of a different race if they are just as qualified for the position as I am. They worked just as hard and have the skills needed to do a job that is highly competitive. What is hard to swallow is when you lose the chance at a position solely because you are a certain race. When you're more than qualified and the best suited for the job, then you lose it because the company needs to hire someone of a different race. At this poin,t under this program it is doing exactly the opposite of what it was intended to do. Improve our country and give everyone equal opportunities.

      Affirmative action was an incredible program that was needed at a time of great social upheaval during the civil rights movement. Today however, it has run its course of need and fairness. In this world, where the most powerful man in it is African American, the field of opportunity has definitely grown for minorities. It is time now to make our country truly equal for everyone and scale back programs that only promote further inequality.

      I don't think affirmative action should be completely abolished. President Kennedy's version of the program is more in line with what the program should resemble, not President Johnson's. I want equality for everyone, but like 50 years ago when minorities were not getting a fair chance, now so too are whites under this program.

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'When Affirmative Action Was White' Ny Times
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ACLU

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