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The Story

I recently came across an article published in the economist about Affirmative Action. I was disgusted, although not surprised to find that people are still making the claim for the end of Affirmative Action. The premise is that Affirmative Action is discriminatory and is not fair. The article strays away from the typical cry of White anguish and use of the term “reverse racism.” however, the tone of the article is the same as all the other arguments. The purpose remains the same: to reinforce the delusion of a colour-blind society that pretends not to recognize the uniqueness of the American experience for people of different nationalities. I was appalled to see the author actually use as argument an idea from a book called “Mismatch” that concludes that Affirmative Action actually reduces the number of Black lawyers because it allows Black students to attend law schools for which they are not prepared and, therefore, do not matriculate. The author feels this idea applies generally because affirmative action grants Black students from under-privileged socioeconomic backgrounds and school systems the opportunity to go to prestigious universities, many of them will fail because they are ill-prepared for the academically competitive nature of such schools. The author suggests that had these individual’s gone to a lesser school more evenly matched with the poor education they had already been receiving they might actually graduate from college. The author even goes as far as using the president’s daughters is his closing point, stating:

Governments should tackle disadvantage directly, without reference to race. If a school is bad, fix it. If there are barriers to opportunity, remove them. And if Barack Obama’s daughters apply to a university, judge them on their academic prowess not the colour of their skin.

Well if the author was looking to be provocative, it worked.

The Problem

There is one fatal flaw in that conclusion. In order to suggest tackling disadvantage without reference to race, the root of the disadvantage would have to not involve race. In this case it does. Race/skin color were the factors that were considered when the barriers were placed. Race was the reason people were forced to live in certain areas. Race was the reason those areas were neglected in terms of economic, social, and educational resources. They neglect then disadvantaged those individuals, but the root was race. So race cannot be ignored in finding the solution. Those who feel that society can be colour-blind tend to neglect the details and, indeed, the devil is in the details. Those individuals will neglect the history and legacy of this country and the origins of the people in this country. They will make vast generalizations and send America spiraling in regression. The question is whether or not to consider race/skin colour/nationality in legislative decisions. The question is: Is there any way to not make those considerations and arrive at a fair and just conclusion?

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The Point

One of my undergraduate professors, an attorney and former Black Panther, once ersaid “What’s equal isn’t always fair.” It would be overly ambitious – to say the least – to propose that America go colour-blind. We are not ready. The playing field is being leveraged through programs like Affirmative Action. Perhaps if the playing field was being leveled by goodwill and a sheer commitment to the common good, we might not need such programs. However, Americans have proven that we will exploit one another to the detriment of society. That is why the legal system exists: to regulate and reduce the opportunity for such evil. To that end, it is in the best interest of our country to continue to do so. Fair or not, equality does not just happen. Blind or not, colour exists. Like it or not, Americans see colour. I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’, An Angry Black Man

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Comments
  1. Well written! The question of race-based inequality will never end; and as long as that is so, any nation that proclaims itself in favor of equal opportunity for all has an obligation to even the score so that the playing field is even for everybody. This battle has been raging in Brazil for the past decade in a country that refused to even admit it was racist. A decade later, debunking all of the myths about quotas, thousands of black Brazilians have entered college and vastly improved their lives. This was not possible just a few decades ago: http://wp.me/p1XDuf-1lV

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