Against Affirmative Action
Thirty-eight years ago, there was discrimination occurring in America that made it necessary for our government to create and enforce a law called Affirmative Action. Although this was a positive intervention at the time, Affirmative Action is no longer necessary today.
Affirmative action is any plan or program that promotes the employment of women and members of any minority group (Britannica 172). This term, first used by President John F. Kennedy, is an action taken to remedy the effects and specifically end job and college entrance discrimination (Neiss 244). In nineteen sixty-four, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of nineteen sixty-four which made job discrimination illegal and really began to push Kennedy’s affirmative action. When President Richard M. Nixon took office, he became the first to implement federal policies designed to guarantee minority hiring.
Over the years, there have been two significant court cases involving affirmative action. The first case occurred during the nineteen-seventies. A young man named Allan Bakke; who applied twice to the University of California medical school, was rejected in the result of affirmative action policies both years. Bakke took his case to the Supreme Court, and in nineteen seventy-eight, the court ruled in his favor. Allan Bakke’s case resulted in an established affirmative action quota in colleges, and he was also admitted into the University of California medical school.
The second significant court case involving affirmative action occurred more recently. In nineteen ninety-six, a forty-three-year-old mother named Barbara Grutter applied to the University of Michigan law school. Grutter was not admitted into the school based on its racial preferences. The following year in nineteen ninety-seven, two other white students with good grades and high SAT scores were also denied admission at the University of Michigan. All three students took their case against the University of Michigan to the Supreme Court as Allan Bakke had done nearly twenty years before. President George W. Bush has expressed that he disagrees with affirmative action policy and that if the court rules in favor of Grutter, affirmative action policies may change throughout the country. If the nine justices strike down the use of race as a factor in admission at the University of Michigan, there will be far less racial diversity at the best-known colleges in the United States.
Affirmative action has been controversial since its beginning. Arguments against Affirmative action can basically be divided into two categories. The first is a category of arguments that oppose Affirmative action policies on moral principle. The second is a category of arguments based on the bad consequences of Affirmative action. Supporters of affirmative action say that these policies are the only way to create an integrated society in which the whole population has an equal opportunity to share in education, jobs, and other benefits (Gutmann 23).
According to Lino A. Graglia, who is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, black high-school seniors, on average, have a combined SAT score about two-hundred points lower than that of white high-school seniors.
In nineteen ninety-six, the American Lawyer reported that only forty-five Hispanic students and sixteen black students in the country had an LSAT score at or above the 92nd percentile and a grade-point average of 3.5 or better—scores good enough for admission to three-quarters of the nation’s law schools, but below the mean scores of the students admitted to the nation’s seven or so most selective schools, including Michigan.
Minority applicants cannot be considered in competition with white and Asian applicants if they are to make up at least five to ten percent- the usual objective- of the entering class of selective colleges and universities. Therefore, at the University of Michigan Law School, for example, black students are basically admitted automatically even with scores lower than those with which white and Asian students are automatically rejected. If each applicant had an A average, a white applicant would have to score at the 96th percentile to have a chance of admission equal to that of a black applicant scoring at the 70th percentile (Graglia 7). Altogether, race-based preference creates reverse discrimination.
Although affirmative action has a positive-sounding label, it has resulted in negative actions. Instead of considering the qualifications of all candidates, without racial considerations, affirmative action favors selected races and, thus, bias the outcome. Race-based policies should be abolished in America. Both minorities and Caucasians have the same opportunity to learn, whether or not they take advantage of it. Because of affirmative action, minorities can never know if they were accepted to universities or hired for jobs because of their qualifications or ethnicity. This also holds true for Caucasians who are rejected.
The problem with this policy is that it assumes black students cannot be expected to meet requirements applicable to others, and therefore may be exempted from them. Is this really the long term solution for achieving racial equality?
Affirmative action hurts dignity. When universities use race-based admission systems, they minimize the achievements of Hispanics and blacks who do not need special treatment to be admitted to college. Weighing skin color over standardized test scores does not make sense. When any student is admitted to a college with less-than-average marks, they are less likely to succeed incompetency with other students.
It has been forty years since affirmative action was implemented here in America. The outdated law was originally a temporary measure that is now doing our country more harm than good. Systematic discrimination is not likely to have affected an eighteen-year-old in his/her lifetime to justify systematic discrimination in his/her favor. Affirmative action policies benefit individuals who have not suffered discrimination and burdens individuals who have not participated in discrimination. Turning the tables on previously favored groups is as unjust as the original discrimination. Relatively higher dropout rates of minorities from colleges and universities is due to affirmative action policies that place students at more competitive colleges than they can handle (Clegg 4).
Why is the only relevant discrimination to consider the discrimination that occurred in the United States? Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Asians, American Indians, and Americans of Irish, Italian, Polish, and German origin have all been subjected to discrimination at one time or another in the United States. Why does affirmative action only apply to a couple of these groups?
America is supposed to be the land of “equal opportunity.” Why create unnecessary resentment when we can learn to live together in harmony and respect? Affirmative action recreates the very problem it is supposed to solve: discrimination. Affirmative action should be outlawed. Although affirmative action was a brilliant idea thirty years ago and a positive intervention at the time, it is no longer necessary today.
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