The importance of affirmative action in America and why it remains relevant.
Dear future president,
This country, a diverse melting pot, is still in need of affirmative action despite the citizens that say it is no longer required. Education does not cease its significance to the modern individual’s success in society today. The fact still remains that minorities are more likely to be part of socio-economically depressed areas than non-minorities. Affirmative action is a policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education; positive discrimination. Please work to keep this policy in use during your time in office.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the graduation rate of Hispanics(76%), Blacks(73%) and American Indians/Alaska Natives(70%) is lower than those of Whites(87%). The enrollment rate in schools of White students is significantly higher than that of minorities according to statistics from the NCES in 2013-2014. 24.6 million White students enrolled in schools that year while 7.8 million Black students, 13.3 million Hispanic students enrolled in schools. There is an obvious need to level the playing field across the board. A government census from 2007-2011 recorded that 14.3% of Americans lived in poverty. The races with the highest rates were American Indians/Alaska Natives(27%) and Blacks(25.8%). While people argue for White poverty levels as well, the same census puts Whites at a 9% poverty rate. According to “Patrick Sharkey’s Stuck in Place, White children in poor neighborhoods are more likely to live in middle class neighborhoods as adults while Blacks are more likely to remain living in the same surrounds as adults” (Washington Post, Valerie Strauss). Are we not all meant to be given equal opportunities in this country?
It is of popular opinion to those against affirmative action that a racist past cannot be undone through more racism, there are minorities benefitting in higher positions they otherwise would not have without special preference and finally, the argument used most often, Martin Luther King Jr. believed in a colorblind society. I would like to deconstruct these arguments future president. Firstly, racism is a system that benefits racial majorities; if a person benefits from that system because of their race, they can not be subject to racism. White people can most definitely experience extreme prejudice but, not racism. Secondly, the belief that a person “must have” gotten their job based solely on account of their race and not their qualifications perpetuates harmful stigmas on minorities. Lastly, it is a myth that Martin Luther King Jr. believed in a colorblind society. He wanted a world where people would “not be judged by the color of their skin” which is not the same thing as ignoring a person’s race. Not acknowledging a person’s race is refusing to celebrate cultural differences and disregards the struggles of minorities in history such as those of Blacks in American History therefore, allowing one to ignore uncomfortable racial differences.
We can no longer ignore our American history and its foundations. This nation was built on the backs of African American slaves who worked without pay and without rights violating the country’s Constitution. Banned from education, raped, looked down upon as though they were not even the same species, and persistently stigmatized. Attempting to calculate the debts owed to African Americans by this country is impossible. Leveling the playing field by giving minorities college admission preferences for demographic purposes is a small step towards justice. Perhaps one day we can all be seen as equals unafraid to acknowledge and celebrate our differences, but until that day has come, affirmative action should remain in practice. Thank you for your time.