After the United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, itbecame apparent that certain business traditions, such as seniority status andaptitude tests, prevented total equality in employment. Then President, LyndonB. Johnson, decided something needed to be done to remedy these flaws. OnSeptember 24, 1965, he issued Executive Order #11246 at Howard University thatrequired federal contractors to take Affirmative Action to ensure thatapplicants are employed . . . without regard to their race, creed, color, ornational origin (Civil Rights). With the signing of that order, and withoutknowing it, President Johnson created reverse discrimination.
Affirmative Action was created in an effort to help minorities leap thediscriminative barriers that were ever so present when the bill was firstenacted, in 1965. At this time, the country was in the wake of nationwide civil-rights demonstrations, and racial tension was at an all time high. Most of thecorporate executive and managerial positions were occupied by White Males, whocontrolled the hiring and firing of employees. The U.S. government, in 1965,believed that these employers were discriminating against Minorities andbelieved that there was no better time than the present to bring about change. This action, that started with good intentions, would later lead to a differentand more complex form of discrimination.
When the Civil Rights Law passed, Minorities, especially African-Americans, believed that they should receive retribution for the earlier yearsof discrimination they endured. The government responded by passing laws toaide them in attaining better employment as reprieve for the previous twohundred years of suffering their race endured at the hands of the White Man. Tomany people the passing of these laws was an effort in the right direction. Supporters of Affirmative Action asked, why not let the government help themget better jobs? After all, the White Man was responsible for their suffering.
While this may all be true, there is another question to be asked. Are we trulyresponsible for the years of persecution that the African Americans and otherMinorities were submitted to? I am not so sure.
It is true that past generations of White Men are partly responsiblefor the suppression of the African-American race. However, the modern WhiteMale is not responsible for the past. It is just as unfair and suppressive tohold White Males responsible for past persecution now, as it was to discriminateagainst many African-Americans in the generations before. Why should an honest,hard-working, open minded, White Male be suppressed, today, for past injustice? Affirmative Action, in it’s current function seems to accept and condone theidea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Do two wrongs really make aright? Definitely not, in my opinion. If Affirmative Action accomplishedstrictly what it was set out to do, that would be fine, but all it seems to bedoing is turning around the tables, instead of alleviating the problem at hand.
Affirmative Action supporters make one large assumption when defendingthe policy. They assume that Minority groups want help. This, however, may notalways be the case. My experience with Minorities has led me to believe thatthey fought to attain equality, not special treatment. To them, the acceptanceof special treatment might be an admittance of inferiority. They ask, Whycan’t I become successful on my own? Why do I need laws to help me get a job? These African Americans want to be treated as equals, not as incompetents. Inmy Idealistic world neither Black, White, Mexican, Asian, Woman or Man shouldneed nothing, except their skills.
In a statement released in 1981 by the United States Commission onCivil Rights, Jack P. Hartog, who directed the Affirmative Action Project, said:”Only if discrimination were nothing more than the misguided acts of a fewprejudiced individuals, would Affirmative Actions plans be reversediscrimination. If today’s society were operating fairly toward Minorities andWomen, would measures that take race, sex, and national origin into account be preferential treatment? Only if discrimination were securely placed in a well-distant past, would Affirmative Action be an unneeded and drastic remedy”. Whatthe commission failed to realize was that there are hundreds of thousands ofWhite Males who are not discriminating, yet are being punished because of thosewho do.
The Northern Natural Gas Company of Omaha, Nebraska, was forced by thegovernment to release sixty-five White Male workers to make room for Minorityemployees in 1977 (Nebraska Advisory Committee 40). Five major Omahacorporations reported that the number of White managers fell 25% in 1969 due torestrictions put on them when Affirmative Action was adopted (Nebraska AdvisoryCommittee 27). You ask, What did these individuals do to bring about theirtermination? The only crime that they were guilty of was being White.
The injustice toward the White Male does not end there. After the WhiteMale has been fired, he has to go out and find a new job to support his family,that depended on the company, to provide health care and a retirement plan, inreturn for years of hard work. Now, because of Affirmative Action, this WhiteMale, and the thousands like him, require more skills to get the same job that alesser qualified African-American Male needs. This is, for all intents andpurposes, discrimination, and it is a law that our government strictly enforces.
Affirmative Action is not only unfair for the working man, it isextremely discriminatory toward the executive, as well. The average businessexecutive has one goal in mind, and that is to maximize profits. To reach hisgoal, this executive would naturally hire the most competent Man or Woman forthe job, whether they be African-American or White or any other race. Why woulda business man intentionally cause his business to lose money by hiring a poorlyqualified worker? Most businesses would not. With this in mind, it seemsunnecessary to employ any policy that would cause him to do otherwise. But,that is exactly what Affirmative Action does in todays society. It forces anemployer, who needs to meet a quota established by the government, to hire aMinority, no matter who is more qualified.
Another way that Affirmative Action deducts from a company’s profits isby forcing them to create jobs for Minorities. This occurs when a company doesnot meet its quota with existing employees and has to find places to putminorities. These jobs are often unnecessary, and force a company to pay forworkers that they do not need.
Affirmative Action is not only present in the work place. It is alsovery powerful in education. Just as a White Male employee needs morecredentials to get a job than his minority opponent, a White Male student needsmore or better skills to get accepted at a prestigious university than aMinority student. There are complete sections on college applications dedicatedto race and ethnic background. Colleges must now have a completely diversestudent body, even if that means some, more qualified students, must be turnedaway. A perfect example of this can be found at the University of California atBerkeley. A 1995 report released by the university said that 9.7% of allaccepted applicants were African American. Only 0.8% of these African Americanstudents were accepted by academic criteria alone. 36.8% of the acceptedapplicants were White. Of these accepted white students, 47.9% were accepted onacademic criteria alone. That means that approximately sixty times more AfricanAmerican students were accepted due to non-academic influences than Whitestudents. It seems hard to believe that Affirmative Action wasn’t one of outside influence.
Another interesting fact included in the 1995 report said that theaverage grade point average for a rejected White student was 3.66 with anaverage SAT score of 1142. The average grade point average for an acceptedAfrican American student was 3.66 with a 1030 average SAT score. These stunningfacts shows just how many competent, if not gifted students fall between thecracks as a direct result of Affirmative Action.
If it has been unclear up to this point I would like to make it clear. My problem is strictly with Affirmative Action. If the true goal is to enddiscrimination and suppression of people as a whole, then the way AffirmativeAction is currently being implemented needs to change. At present it only seemsto be giving some an easy way out and others a firewall that can be difficult toget through. I don’t think that is healthy for either party involved. Affirmative Action has truly become a form of reverse discrimination. I reallybelieve that there are other ways to conquer these problems. Society needs towork towards broad based economic policies like public investment, nationalhealth reform, an enlarged income tax credit, child support assurance, and otherpolicies benefiting families with young children. Widely supported programsthat promote the interests of both lower and middle class Americans that deliverbenefits to Minorities and Whites on the basis of their economic status, and nottheir race or ethnicity, will do more to reduce Minority poverty than thecurrent, narrowly based, poorly supported policies that single out Minoritygroups. However, if this, or another remedy is not taken sometime in the nearfuture, and Affirmative Action continues to separate Minority groups from Whites,we can be sure to see racial tension reach points that our history has neverseen.