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Affirmative Action

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9/11

ENGL 101

14 Nov. 2006

 

Affirmative action is the giving of special treatment to minorities in situations such as admission into universities and employment in businesses. President Johnson introduced this method 1965 (Brunner). The original intention of such action was to prevent discrimination and unfair treatment of students/employees based on minority factors such as race and gender (Messerli). From the beginning, affirmative action was intended to be a short-lived remedy that would end as soon as there was a "level playing field" for all Americans (Brunner). Now, it is doing the complete opposite of what it was designed to do. It is now creating discrimination and unfair treatment of students/employees based on non-minority factors. For this reason, I believe affirmative action based on race and gender should be banned.

Affirmative action was originally designed to stop discrimination against minorities. It is now causing discrimination against those who aren’t minorities. Minorities had been victims of slavery and oppression for a long time, but compensating minorities now for the hardships their ancestors had to face is not fair. Those who aren’t minorities are suffering now for what was the fault of their ancestors.

Affirmative action lowers the standards for minorities. These lowered standards aren’t pushing students/employees to perform better. If they can get into the university or get the job without trying as hard, they don’t have much of a reason to try. Most people need that extra incentive to do their best. "We should reward hard work, discipline, and achievement" (Messerli). People shouldn’t be rewarded merely because they are a certain race or gender, nor should they be punished simply because they aren’t. When the standards are lowered, those who are accepted for this reason are often unprepared to handle the schools or jobs to which they’ve been accepted.

Those opposed may say that those "starting at a disadvantage need a boost" (Messerli) but I don’t believe being a minority race or gender is a disadvantage and they, therefore, do not need a boost. They are no less intelligent than those who aren’t minorities. It is belittling to suggest that minorities cannot achieve their goals through their own hard work and ability (Messerli). Those who are from lower income families are, a lot of times, deprived of some opportunity to succeed, but that is not the issue presented here. There are plenty of minorities who fall into the middle or upper class, and many who aren’t minorities who live in poverty (Messerli).

It is very important to interact with those who are different—whether it’s differences in race, gender, income, beliefs, etc. But, those who aren’t minorities shouldn’t be punished and, likewise, minorities shouldn’t be rewarded just to succumb to this desire of diversity or importance of interaction with innovation. America is a diverse nation; therefore, Americans are likely to experience diversity in some part of their life. Affirmative action is not needed to make sure people experience diversity. Other physical attributes, such as height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc., are not considered in job positions except for logical positions, such as a modeling or athletic position (Messerli). Why, then, should the color of your skin or your gender be taken into account? "There’s no association between hair/eye color and intelligence, discipline, ambition, character, or other essentials" (Messerli). Likewise, race and gender have no effect on such essentials.

Although some stereotypes may have never been broken without affirmative action, now it is doing more harm than good. Now, it is known that blacks are no less capable than are whites. This stereotype and others have been broken. Affirmative action is no longer needed to break such stereotypes. Now, it "demeans true minority achievement" (Messerli). Success of minorities can easily be thought of as the result of affirmative action rather than their own hard work and abilities. This isn’t fair to minorities because they are just as capable as anyone else.

Affirmative action based on race and gender should be banned. As Carl Cohen says, "The original intention of affirmative action—the elimination of racially discriminatory practices—is honorable" (Cohen). Unfortunately, the plan is not working. Affirmative action is not doing a sufficient job of what it was designed to do. In effect, those who are not minorities are suffering. Continuing such action will not eliminate discrimination because it is discrimination only now it’s against non-minorities. If affirmative action based on race and gender continues, the only thing that will change is who suffers from it—the minorities or the non-minorities—and this will flip-flop many times in order to compensate the previous sufferers. "Wouldn’t it be great if we, one day lived in a society when skin color was ignored as much as hair and eye color?" (Messerli)

Works Cited

Brunner, Borgna. "Bakke and Beyond." Infoplease. 2006. 9 Nov. 2006 <http://www.infoplease.com/spot/affirmative1.html>.

Cohen, Carl. "Affirmative Action in Admissions Harms College Students." Enotes.com. 9 Nov. 2006. 9 Nov. 2006 <http://soc.enotes.com/interracial-america-article/45053>.

Messerli, Joe. "Should affirmative action policies, which give preferential treatment based on minority status, be eliminated?" BalancedPolitics.org. 14 April 2006. 2 Nov. 2006 <http://www.balancedpolitics.org/affirmative_action.htm>.