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Affirmative Action Still Very Necessary

Martha Greenburg |
April 2, 2013 | 8:30 p.m. PDT



Whether we are men or women, white or people of color, we all need to question our success. (Josie Luis, Wikimedia Commons0
Whether we are men or women, white or people of color, we all need to question our success. (Josie Luis, Wikimedia Commons0
Congratulations America! Our president is of African descent, and therefore our country is a racist free, accepting and progressive union. Look how far we’ve come! We are no longer selling human beings as property or demanding that certain people drink from separate water fountains. Don’t we all deserve a pat on the back?

Michigan and Texas seem to think so, as they push the Supreme Court to ban the affirmative action policy in effect for college admissions as well as government hiring and contracting. Affirmative action is a policy that takes race into consideration in employment and education. If two applicants are both completely qualified for one spot, the minority will receive the job or be admitted to the university.

What Michigan and Texas are essentially saying to the country is that their schools and businesses no longer require this policy and have become completely diversified. Yet, while a majority of the country is patting itself on the back for all of our “accomplishments,” racial minorities in America continue to suffer from the hurtles of their past as well as the racism that still exists today. 

“What racism?” you say. “I have three black kids in my chem lab and a few Persians in my math class.”

Because most of us have yet to acknowledge the fact that minorities are still at a disadvantage in this country, we obliviously support a system that continues to widen the gap between whites and nonwhites. 

In March of 2011, 34 percent of whites had a bachelor's degree or higher. This was true for 20.2 percent of African Americans and only 14.1 percent of Hispanic Americans. The unemployment rate in 2011 for whites was only 7.9 percent, but 15.8 percent for African Americans and 11.5 percent for Hispanics. None of these numbers translate to equality, and Michigan and Texas are not exempt from that reality. Our society is currently built to support and benefit the white man and while changes have been made, they are clearly not enough. Affirmative action is one of the only programs that has successfully addressed the education and occupational challenges of our nation.

Affirmative action also benefits women in education and the workplace. In 2010, full-time working women  earned an average of $36,931, as compared to $47,715 for men. In fact, men earn more than women in every single racial category. If you are a man and are now smirking, thinking to yourself how awesome you are instead of recognizing your own advantage, you should know that you are the reason this country is struggling to reach equality.

Whether we are men or women, white or people of color, we all need to question our success and wonder just how we were able to achieve it. If you have something to be proud of, you probably worked hard to get it, but can part of it be attributed to your race or the social privileges you were granted based on your phenotype? And if you have been challenged in achieving success, is it partly due to the color of your skin or the stereotypes that make attaining your goals more difficult?

It is 2013. Please don’t say that these statistics are due to the fact that biologically, men are more equipped than women academically and therefore are more successful in the business world. And please don’t try to convince me that white kids are simply smarter than minorities and genuinely are more deserving of a college degree. You are wrong. Once we address these issues and embrace the fact that America has a long way to go on the path to equality, we can give ourselves one pat on the back. And once affirmative action is used at all businesses and college admission offices, we can give ourselves another.


Reach Contributor Martha Greenburg here; follow her here.



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