October 28, 2016
Dear Future President,
My name is Chad Knight and I am from Westport, Connecticut; a suburban commuter town not too far outside of New York. I am a mixed raced, only child of Chinese and caucasian decent. My father went to Oxford University, and is a small business owner; my mother went to the University of Pennsylvania and has been a banker her entire life. While I am only a sophomore in high school, I have developed my own set of beliefs, many of which coincide with American values. These include the ideal of equal opportunity for all people, despite race, religion or ethnicity. With that being said, I ask you to please eliminate the policy of affirmative action and restore the merit based society on which our country was founded on. Affirmative action is an insult to the American Identity, as it only considers race, religion, and ethnicity, without regard to performance. I am concerned that when my peers and I apply for college, and jobs afterwards, that we will be denied sufficient opportunity, due to our ethnicity and not not due to our overall qualifications.
Up to this point, I’ve lived my entire life in a family, school system, and social network driven by merit. I have been taught both in school and in sports that people are rewarded for excellence. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always dreamed of being a professional athlete and living the life that many of my role models live. After all, who doesn’t, right? But I also understand that they achieved what they have because they are the best at what they do, as result of hard work and dedication; the same reason why you were elected President: after a long campaign, and an even longer journey beforehand, you were determined the best candidate for the job by the American people; not because the United States needed to meet certain social requirements.
The American meritocracy is where my ambition derives from: the belief that I can one day live my dream to attend a great university and become a professional athlete through hard work and dedication is the impetus of my motivation. Over the years, I’ve seen that hard work pay off through success on the field and in the classroom; it has not just been handed to me. However, I have also seen those who work harder than I do achieve greater success, and those who have not worked as hard as me achieve less, which they have 100% earned and deserved.
When it comes to affirmative action, I feel as if this meritocracy is threatened. We retrogress to the situation where gender and race play a role in job or college acceptance. Even some of the people who would naturally benefit from affirmative action have been hesitant to take advantage of this policy. Take for example, Raiye Seyoum, a Latin-American student at Northwood High School, one of the most racially diverse schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. When asked for her thoughts about Affirmative action in an interview conducted by the National Public Radio Organization, Seyoum commented, “‘I don't feel it's really fair. If they [schools] feel like, 'Oh, there aren't many Latino kids, let's accept them,'’... ‘What about that person who's working way harder?,’” (Sanchez). It makes zero sense to me why someone should be given an opportunity solely because of their race, religion, or gender, rather than being judged on their performance. Not giving credit to someone for their hard work would be undermining the value of dedication and determination; both requisite values of the American Dream.
The United States loves to brag about its reputation for being land of opportunity and equality. But for every student or job applicant turned down due to affirmative action, its reputation is put in jeopardy. We can’t teach people that hard work pays off if the eventual reward for their time and commitment is subjected to characteristics beyond their control.
Future President, I beg you, not to promise me my dream job or acceptance into my dream school; not to promise me the lifestyle of one of my role models; not to promise me anything. But vow to the people who devoted their lives towards strengthening American reputation , that the merit based environment that has served as this nation's backbone, will long endure.
Thank you for your service,
Chad Shin Knight