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Hiring Minorities

In recent years preferential hiring has become an issue

of great interest. Preferential hiring, which was devised to

create harmony between the different races and sexes, has divided

the lines even more. Supporters on both sides seem fixed in

their positions and often refuse to listen to the other group's

platform. In this essay, the recipients of preferential hiring

will be either black or female, and the position in question will

be a professorship on the university level. The hirings in

question are cases that involve several candidates, all roughly

equal in their qualifications (including experience, education,

people skills, etc.), with the only difference being race and/or


What we have here is a case of predetermined preference.

The two candidates in question are equal in all ways, except race.

The black applicant is selected, not because of skills or

qualifications (in that case the white man would have provided

the same result), but for his skin color. This seems to be blatant

discrimination, but many believe it is justified. Some feel

retribution for years of discrimination is reason enough, but that

issue will be discussed later. First, lets focus on why this is

not a solution to creating an unbiased society.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream: "I have a dream that

my four little children will one day live in a nation where they

will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content

of their character." He desired a world without discrimination,

without prejudice, and without stereotypes. The fundamental lesson

years of discrimination should have taught is that to give anyone

preference based on skin color, sex, or religious beliefs is, in

one word, wrong. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, judgment based

on skin color must not exist. All preferential hiring does is

keep judgments based on skin color alive. Race and sex should not

be issues in today's society, yet preferential hiring continues to

make these factors issues by treating minorities as a group rather

than as individuals. More importantly preferential hiring may

actually fuel, rather than extinguish, feelings of racial hostility.

Applying the concept of preferential hiring to another

situation may help elucidate its shortcomings. A party of white

men and a party of black men both arrive at a restaurant at the same

time and only one table is free. The headwaiter can only seat one

party and must make a decision. According to preferential hiring

theory it is necessary to seat the black party first, since

historically blacks have been discriminated against when seated

in restaurants. In another situation, a white man and a black man

are both equidistant from the last seat on the bus. Both men are

the same age, have no medical problems, and are equal in all ways

except skin color. Should the black man get the seat since in the

past black men have been discriminated against? We could continue

this practice for several centuries before the debt we owe for

depriving blacks of a seat on the bus would be paid. Perhaps these

examples are invalid. It could be said that jobs are a different

issue. They help define social status and provide economic

well-being. They might even boost self-confidence, something that

discrimination has stolen.

Two points must be considered before moving any further.

First, blacks may learn better from a black, and women may learn

better from a woman. Second, hiring women and blacks will provide

role models for others. The first point Thomson quickly concedes

as likely to be false. Discussion about the second point however

is required, and will, in effect, serve to negate the first point

as well.

First, lets create a character, Bill. Bill is grossly

overweight and unattractive. Studies have shown that many employers

discriminate (whether subconsciously or not), against both overweight

and unattractive individuals. Unfortunately for Bill, he fits into

both categories. His inability to land a job reflective of his

abilities, coupled with years of public humiliation through jokes

made at his expense, has destroyed his self-esteem. This has caused

him to accept as fact the notion that he will never be able to reach

his goals. Few "Bill" success stories exist, only further plummeting

his self-confidence.

This example sounds strikingly similar to a common argument

for preferential hiring. I have been discriminated against, which

has caused my self esteem to fall, and now I am stuck, with few role

models to follow. Bill's success has probably been thwarted by more

sources than the today's average black or female, but there is no

provision in preferential hiring for him. Just like no one can

control their race or skin color, Bill's obesity is caused by a

medical problem beyond treatment. Selective preferential hiring

won't work. Even if one doesn't accept the fact that preferential

hiring discriminates against the white male, one must accept the

fact that preferential hiring discriminates against Bill.

Now let's assume that this argumentation is invalid for one

reason or another. Let's assume the lack of self-confidence and

self-respect that today's blacks and women are suffering from may

deserve some compensation. But before continuing, it seems necessary

to narrow the range of who qualifies for compensation for suffering.

The issue at hand concerns today's blacks and today's women. Today's

society is not responsible for incidents preceding its own existence.

Other opinions may not coincide with this belief, but I do not feel

any responsibility for the positive or negative actions of my

grandfather or my father. However, as a member of society I will

take responsibility for the positive or negative actions of society

today. For example, today's society is not responsible for blacks

or women's lack of voting rights years ago. If for some reason we

were responsible, how could this possibly be repaid? Make a black

or female vote count two or three times? No, this is preposterous.

We have canceled our debts, simply by giving them a right to vote

and a say in the election of their representatives. Now that is

not to say that today's society is not responsible for the

discrimination of blacks and women in recent years. But, even prior

to the lifetime of those that would be most affected by preferential

hiring: both blacks and women have had the right to vote;

discrimination based on race, color, religion, or sex has been

illegal; segregation has ended; and the civil rights movement has

taken place. Clearly, we live in a different United States than

out predecessors.

Today's blacks and women may still experience some repercussions of

discrimination, but for decades laws have been enforced prohibiting

discrimination. If someone discriminates against a black today,

charges could be filed against that person and that person will be

punished. That is the bottom line. Preferential treatment cannot

be given to victims of all crimes. It would become chaotic trying

pin the level of preference a victim should get for different crimes.

For a moment let's digress to the case of Judy. Judy was

raped. All society can offer her is the punishment of her rapist,

if her rapist is found guilty. Sure, Judy will probably suffer for

the rest of her life believing that it was her fault; she will lose

self-respect and self-confidence. But is Judy going to receive

preferential treatment when she walks into an office and applies

for a job? There is no space on a job application for Judy to say:

"I should receive special consideration, because several years ago I

was raped. This rape has caused me years of anguish, and now I lack

the self-confidence I once had. All this has cause me to underachieve

in school and in life. Please consider this when you review my

application." If Judy, who lost her self-confidence and self-respect

through the violation of her rights by a member of society, is given

no compensation for her trauma, why should blacks or women? All

society owes the victim of a crime is that the criminal be punished

if in fact a law was breached.

Possibly their case is more powerful. Not all women (or men)

are raped each year, but most blacks and women have been discriminated

against at some point in their life. Could we possibly owe the

victims of discrimination something?

If, as Thomson claims, all blacks and females have, as a

consequence of their past lack of rights, suffered a lack of

self-confidence and self-respect, then why preferentially give them

jobs? Jobs have no direct correlation to a lack of self-respect and

self-confidence. Indirectly, yes, maybe many blacks and women have

not been able to achieve their highest goals due to this lack of

self-confidence and are therefore handicapped when they enter the job

market. But it seems to me that if we were to solve the problem and

provide repayment with the loosening of qualifications necessary, or

even not the loosening but the offering of preferential treatment

when hiring blacks and women, this does not solve the problem. It

seems to make more sense to dig deeper; to find the root of the

problem and change it. Since we can't go back and change history,

eliminating the poor treatment blacks and women of the past, then the

next best thing seems to be to reverse the effects of discrimination

in the present.

The lack of presence in the upper levels of the job market is

not a direct effect of discrimination. It is, as Thomson states, a

lack of self-confidence and self-respect that has kept toady's blacks

and women down. So the logical solution would be to renew their

self-respect, and to restore their self-confidence. It seems like too

superficial of a solution to simply give blacks and women preference

when it comes to hiring. Certainly it would not bolster my

self-confidence to know that I received a job over another equally

qualified individual, simply due to my skin color or sex. I would

feel as if again race and sex were dominating decisions. Wasn't the

original goal to eliminate the issue of skin color and sex from all


Thomson, in her essay on preferential hiring, tells us that

she is not happy with the solution of preferential hiring in its

entirety: "If there were some appropriate way in which the community

could make amends to its blacks and women, some way which did not

require depriving anyone of anything he has a right to, then that

would be the best course to take." There must be a better way.

Psychological treatment would help give the victims of poor treatment

renewed self-confidence, providing them the confidence to go out and

try to earn a job, rather than get handed a job. The feeling of

accomplishment that results from earning a job would help improve


But now another issue arises. We would owe all victims of

crime some sort of compensation. Maybe there is another way to elevate

the status of minorities without bringing the issue of race or sex into

the arena. If what is desired by preferential hiring is a jump-start

to promote diversity in the workplace and in society, where race and

sex are irrelevant, why not enact a plan where preferential hiring is

not based on these factors? Instead, why not give preference to

underrepresented towns or areas of town (possibly by zip code), to

those that are financially burdened, and to those with handicaps.

This would help relieve the pressure of race and sex in these issues.

The underprivileged will still be given a jump-start, and diversity will

still be promoted.

However, this solution breaches another point that any form of

categorization of people should not occur. The solutions presented are

more acceptable than preferential hiring, though they still have their

defects. Why not bury the issue of race? Discrimination is waning. It

has become a crime to discriminate. Soon blacks and women will become

full members of the job world. There are plenty of role model success

stories available. There is no reason to believe that anyone, in today's

society, cannot achieve whatever they wish. Hard work and diligence will

pay off and eventually race and sex will no longer be issues. The goal

is to make race and sex irrelevant, and preferential hiring only keeps

these issues alive. Let's try to live in a society modeled after Martin

Luther King Jr.'s dream, and I believe the issues of race and sex will

disappear, leaving people to be judged solely on their character.

Source: Essay UK -

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