Affirmative action are programs that are designed to give members of groups that have been injustly treated in the past access to educational and employment opportunities. This policy was implemented in the late sixties, early seventies. During this time colleges and businesses had to meet a quota for the admission or hiring of minorities and women. Today quotas are no longer legal, but programs and incentives are used to bolster the enrollment of minorities in college. There has been much debate whether affirmative action is helping people or is reverse discrimination. Some people such as Clarence Page believe that affirmative action benefits minorities. Others such as Shelby Steele feel that affirmative action does more bad than good by promoting racial representation rather than racial development. In my opinion affirmative action is an attempted remedy for the injustices of the past and widens the gap of ethnic toleration.
Clarence Page used affirmative action on a different level to get his foot in the door. Page is a reporter and during the riots more black reporters were needed to cover the story because blacks could get closer to the story. His column, overlooked in the past, was soon bought by his hometown newspaper. He believes affirmative action was a way for him to get past a society that was against him. On the other hand he also believes affirmative action to also benefit white people. The University of Indiana Law School broadened its acceptance criteria to open the doors for promising applicants who did not score well on the tests which was beneficial to such people as J.Danforth Quayle. One of the claims of people against affirmative action is actually proven false in the example above. He feels that until minorities feel trust and comfortable in the marketplace there will always be a need of measures to target jobs, scholarships, and contracts to minorities. Page believes that affirmative action is essentially better than nothing in our general society today. Shelby Steele feels that affirmative action is not the remedy to dealing with minorities it only adds entitlement because they are black.
Shelby Steele takes a strong stand against affirmative action on a number of reasons. She feels that making black the color of preference, these issues have given back to society the same preference (in reverse). She feels that whites are using affirmative action as a way to clear up the wrongdoing of the past. Affirmative action gives minorities a false sense of power that in some ways they did not achieve on their own accord. A major issue is the idea of racial representation and racial development. Racial representation deals with a means of manufacturing a thought or perception on how things should be. Racial development is something that is earned and sought out to achieve. She uses the aspect of self victimization in the black community. Victimization of what happened in the past to make the “victim” feel that they deserve some recourse. This has no benefit because it only creates preference which creates discrimination. Steele’s main idea comes at the end when she states that Blacks need to take responsibility for themselves developing economically and educationally. Whites have no recourse of what happened in the past until discrimination is erased and helping those minorities to develop.
Affirmative action is another way of trying to correct an issue that has been around for years, the issue of discrimination. Whites have not always been the most pleasant and understanding to other racial backgrounds. Society today is much more open minded about race relations than in the past, but discrimination is still alive. Having affirmative action is keeping the separation of ethnic authority around. It widens the gap between different ethnic backgrounds because it acknowledges there is a difference and their needs to be something to accommodate it. On another level however, in my opinion government programs to aid those people that live in poverty or economic hardship that are qualified to meet or exceed certain positions is very good. In the statement about being the victim, I could not agree more. Some Blacks use the past as a way to blame their misfortunes on the future. The basic attitude of “you owe me,” in this day in age is outdated. My family came from Italy and suffered economic hardships. None of my relatives had a slave or dealt with any organizations that kept from the support of equality, so why am I responsible for what happened in the past? If people would let go of past issues and look towards the mold of a more equal future, our society would benefit immensely. This is the greatest reason of all not to support affirmative action because it does not benefit change or progress with ethnic relations, it keeps us separate.