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Affirmative action solution or confusion

Affirmative Action: Solution or Confusion?

Affirmative action is a plan designed to end discrimination by

guaranteeing minorities will be hired, regardless of race or gender. While

our country hires such groups based upon these guarantees, the

qualifications of such people are occasionally overlooked. Many believe

that affirmative action is a very effective plan; however, the population

which opposes such action frequently includes people of various minorities,

as well as many others who have been wronged by this plan In several

cases, this plan causes minorities to be perceived as being under-qualified

when hired; in addition, it also causes a new minority, the white male.

Our government must acknowledge the fact that affirmative action is not

putting an end to discrimination; in all actuality, this plan has succeeded in

creating new minorities, and more reasons for discrimination.

Affirmative action frequently causes qualified employees to be

looked down upon because some believe them to be "affirmative action

hires". Two of my female relatives are currently on the police force; as a

result, I have encountered many discriminatory comments pertaining to

their positions. The first remark I usually receive suggests that they were

hired for their position solely based on gender. Another comment which I

usually receive is, "Well, being a woman probably didn't hurt their resume."

Both of my relatives are very good at their jobs; one was even on the

popular television show, Cops. Neither of them are "wimps", yet most

males look down upon them as being hired because of affirmative action.

This type of criticism is received by many minorities holding good jobs,

whether they are qualified or not. To quote William Reynolds, assistant

attorney general in the civil rights division:

In many cases, affirmative action takes away from legitimate

minority success. People look at the black banker

downtown who has made it on his own and say, "He got his

job because of affirmative action." Or, an employer hires a

few talented minority people who would have succeeded

anyway and says, "Those are my affirmative-action hires."


In this particular case, affirmative action may, or may not, have

been the reason for hiring, yet that is what most perceive. People of any

race or gender should be able to hold a job where their colleagues respect

them as equals, not as "affirmative-action hires".

My cousin, Christine, has also added to my knowledge on how well

affirmative action works at the hospital where she works. One of the

administrators happened to be a black male--who was very qualified for his

position--yet most of the staff accused him of being promoted because of

his race. This affected his morality to such an extent that he resigned

shortly after his promotion. Another black female--who was hired because

of her race and gender--is not qualified for her position, yet is esteemed by

her colleagues for her accomplishments. It seems that minorities are

accepted to a certain extent, until they become someone's boss. It is also a

scary situation when a person has an under-qualified surgeon performing

surgery on them because of affirmative action.

Affirmative action insists that the employer must "[a]void the kind

of unnecessary escalation of criteria for selection and promotion which has

sometimes been used to keep certain classes of people from entering the

mainstream of our economic life" (Berry 19). This aspect of the plan

creates more openings for minorities; however, it also suggests that the

standards should be maintained at a low to guarantee these openings. In

my opinion, if the standards for any position are raised, the productivity

and accuracy of the country will rise accordingly. When the policy of

affirmative action is to almost lower the standards of our society, this

sacrifices quality for the sake of equality. Roy Wilkins, a former Executive

Director of the NAACP, stated to the congress:

Our association has never been in favor of a quota system.

We believe the quota system is unfair whether it is used for

or against blacks...We feel people ought to be hired because

of their ability, irrespective of their color...We want

equality, equality of opportunity and employment on the

basis of ability. (qtd. in Reynolds 26)

If the people which affirmative action was made for are against

most of it's principles--and the white male loses jobs because of it--why is

the majority so supportive of this plan?

One of the most powerful arguments for affirmative action is based

upon claims from minorities who believe that they deserve a certain amount

of compensation because of the past discrimination which they have

received. Diana Axelson, chairperson of the Department of Philosophy of

Spelman College, states this in her essay, "Affirmative Action

Compensates for Past Discrimination", by claiming, "The first form of

compensation which seems appropriate is compensations...for injuries they

themselves have received as a result of individualized or institutionalized

racism and sexism" (33). In my opinion, the blame of past wrongs should

not be put upon the employer, nor should something which happened in the

past be a factor in hiring practices. To quote Michael Levin, professor of


Other past wrongs have left their traces-acts of theft,

despoliation, fraud, anti-Semitism-yet society has no

organized policy of rectifying those wrongs. It surely seems

that if the consequences of one kind of wrong should not be

allowed to unfold, neither should those of any other. (40)

Although society may sympathize with past wrongs, it is not any

employer's obligation to compensate these people; further, it would be a

great injustice to society's majority to ignore them in order to accomplish


Affirmative action is a successful plan in theory, but hiring a certain percentage of

minorities--qualified or unqualified--has turned into a larger problem than what already

existed. In all actuality, the hiring requirements of affirmative action have caused the

white male to become a minority because they cannot be hired unless the required

percentage of minorities are already employed. A more effective method of hiring fairly,

without discrimination, may be a faceless and nameless interview. If perspective

employees could send in their resumes, be assigned a number, fill out a written interview,

and be hired entirely based on their qualifications, this would solve many of the problems.

Using this method to hire and promote would guarantee the most qualified people would

be hired, and there could be no accusations of choosing a person solely on their race or

gender. We live in a country where a certain percent of the work force is hired based

entirely on their race or gender, not their qualifications. It is quite obvious that affirmative

action does not fulfill the intended purpose; contrary to its objective, this plan has only

created more discrimination than could ever be imagined.

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