Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Negative Action

Great read from a local high school senior.   She even got an A!
I had to share this with you.

Affirmative action programs give preference to minority groups to make up for historical discrimination. Affirmative action is one remedy for dealing with the effects of discrimination in American history. Supporters view affirmative action as necessary to counteract the effects of past discrimination, whereas opponents believe affirmative action is reverse discrimination. However, not only do the negative effects outweigh the benefits, but the great decrease in racial prejudice in the past years renders affirmative action unnecessary.

Supporters of affirmative action believe it is necessary to overcome the effects of past discrimination to those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. To make up for decreased opportunities for minorities in the past, we must increase their current opportunities. Affirmative action programs are based on the idea that past discrimination is passed from generation to generation, and minorities therefore continue to experience the effects of discrimination today. Moreover, affirmative action not only benefits minority groups but society as a whole.

Raina Kelley illustrates this idea in her article “Affirmative Action” by stating that “diversity challenges assumptions and forces people to rely on personal experience instead of stereotype.” Diversity in any situation provides a wider range of ideas and perspectives, challenging us to expand our knowledge. For this reason, some believe diverse organizations make better decisions due to a wider variety of opinions. Another point supporters make is that due to the vast diversity in the United States, if each group is given the opportunity to interact, we can better achieve unity. Diversity is also necessary in businesses to service a diverse base of customers. In addition, supporters say diversity does not imply favor toward a particular group, as all groups may benefit from diverse perspectives.

On the other hand, opponents of affirmative action view it as reverse discrimination against whites. Although the goal of affirmative action is to make up for historical discrimination, the programs conflict with the idea of a society based not upon color but on merit. Affirmative action contradicts the goal that we should not judge people based on race, color, natural origin, or otherwise. To impose affirmative action programs is to suggest that minorities are in need of special treatment to succeed, undermining the achievements of minorities who have succeeded without preferential treatment.

In his article on quotas, Rich Tyson describes the concept of affirmative action as “cheapening the successes of those who have worked hard and not looked to have the rules bent to get where they are.” Affirmative action also leads minorities to view themselves as disadvantaged, when in reality they are not, preventing them from reaching their full potential. In addition, we already have anti-discrimination laws in place which are adequate tools in addressing discrimination. Most importantly, demographics are only one aspect of diversity. This detracts from the supporting arguments regarding diversity producing a wide range of ideas, as affirmative action does not ensure diversity of opinion.

Both sides present valid arguments. However, the drawbacks of affirmative action outweigh the benefits. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, we should not be judged on the color of our skin but on the content of our character. If the goal of affirmative action is ultimately to achieve equality, the programs themselves are completely counterproductive. Affirmative action crosses the line from promoting equality to giving minorities preferential treatment. Job positions and school acceptances should be based on qualifications rather than on demographics. Because of affirmative action, qualified whites are passed over in favor of less qualified minorities. In addition, it’s unfair to the individuals who work hard to be successful when opportunities are handed to others because of their race. True successes of minorities may be labeled as a result of preferential treatment rather than hard work. Moreover, our current generation has come a long way since the times of “Whites Only” signs and Jim Crow laws. This is not to say prejudice has vanished entirely; however, the need for antiquated policies that place certain groups over others has come to an end as society has developed over the past fifty years.

Affirmative action continues to receive both support and opposition. Supporters view it as an effective and necessary way of making schools and businesses more diverse, while opponents characterize it as reverse discrimination. Affirmative action may have been beneficial in the past, however, social advances regarding prejudice and segregation have rendered affirmative action programs unnecessary in more recent years. It is well past the time for our society to stop dwelling on the past and begin living the creed of Martin Luther King Jr.


Richard Tyson said...

I was honored to have been quoted. Great job Amy Hughes!

Anonymous said...

An A! Wow! I thought they kicked you out of school these days for challenging a pillar of liberal orthodoxy.