Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Affirmative Action will die

I  expect Affirmative Action to die.

Any other outcome seems completely unlikely. The program has been the whipping boy of white folks from all political vantage points for years, and increasingly even black folks have come to believe that it's outdated and unnecessary. People recoil at the mention of quotas and inferior candidates being offered positions they don't deserve. Affirmative Action has become a symbol of the mistakes inherent in trying to legislate fairness.

There is some truth to that viewpoint. No one who has studied or considered Affirmative Action can deny its failings. People implementing it have reserved spots for black folks and other disadvantage minorities, they have denied people who on the surface appear to be better candidates a spot at the table. It has been poorly implemented and horribly defended. On many levels, it has failed.

But, how many folks recognize its mission. If you talk to many people they think Affirmative Action programs were enacted to get black folks jobs they otherwise couldn't earn. Or get them into colleges that otherwise wouldn't give them a second look. They think the program was a free gift to black folks to make up for slavery and Jim Crow. It was our reparations.

Ignorance is such an ugly thing sometimes. Affirmative Action was not created to give black folks something, it was created to prevent white people from denying us those things that were rightfully ours as American citizens.The program wasn't created to give the unqualified jobs, but to stop white people from consistently denying black people the right to work in jobs they could do, and attend schools they could prosper act simply because of the color of our skin. It wasn't a program designed to make everything fair, it was designed to stop black folks from getting legally screwed.

Most folks don't get that. They don't understand exactly how unbalanced the system has been in this country for centuries. And if they do understand, they don't really want to acknowledge what that means to their lives today. No one wants to admit that their success is tied directly and indirectly to evil perpetuated by their ancestors. Hell, most folks don't want to admit that their ancestors were evil at all. But it's true, it's completely true.

The program has been thwarted by the complete unwillingness of most white people to ever admit that racism and discrimination cause serious problems until well after those serious problems have become entrenched and intractable.  White people have never, ever been interested in creating a society where they relinquished their position of authority, power and privilege, and they never will be. To believe otherwise is to ignored human history in totality.

Unfortunately that is not a part of life that most Americans will ever deal with. Instead, it's been swept under the rug of forgetfulness. Folks don't want to deal with the true legacy of racism and discrimination because some problems just aren't fun to fix. And they are tired of trying.

So Affirmative Action has to die.



Bill said...

I have been reading your blog for a while now: I am very selected what books I read. My wish list of books to read would be one written by the the President(his BIO from 2006 until he is out of office) and a book written by you. You make things so simple: Keep up the good work.

Imhotep said...

Affirmative action has to die? Lets be clear, AA for Black folks have to die, but AA for white folks as they have enjoyed it for the past four centuries will continue in perpetuity. AA for Black folks is at best an undesirable practice in this white dominated society. AA for Black folks has been on life support since birth. The detractors have always been at the bed side just waiting to pull the plug and snuff out the remaining life of AA. White folks talk about unfair hiring practices, educational opportunities, and “social engineering” but all that is just a ruse to avoid admitting their belief in Black inferiority. White folks have never desired for Black folks to participate in any meaningful way in the economic or social structure of this country. Little wonder that AA is gasping for air, it’s constantly under assault.

Fairness and justice for non-whites are ideas that cannot survive in the world of white supremacy, therefore the death of AA for Black folks is inevitable.

Big Man said...

You know I agree Imhotep. There was never a true effort to make things "fair" because that would require serious sacrifice and pain.
I often use the analogy that if American life was a race, white folks have been running free and unfettered for centuries, while blacks starting the race in shackles after giving white folks a 60 minutes head start. And it wasn't until five minutes ago that they took the shackles off legs, although they kept our arms bound. And then they tell us it's our fault that we haven't caught up.

Thanks for the compliment Bill.

Anonymous said...

What's your opinion on the contention that AA doesn't work because:

AA has created an artificial quota system against Asian Americans to compensate for the systemic bias in favor of under-represented minorities. White representation hasn't really been affected at all.

Is it fair that an upper-middle/middle class African American or Latino should be given an advantage over a lower class Asian American? Shouldn't socio-economic background in conjunction with race be considered in reforming AA?

Should the sons or daughters of black doctors, lawyers, or engineer be held to a lower standard than those of whites or asians? Once a family has reached that level of socio-economic success, is the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow still relevant?

Also what is your response to the the conservative black criticism that AA places many young minorities in academic environments above their abilities, and therefore turns them away from science, engineering, and quantitative humanities (economics, finance, accounting).

I think as a nation we agree some form of affirmative action is necessary - but in its current form, it has become an anachronism.

It's an open secret that the people who have benefited the most from AA are African immigrants, white latinos, and white women.

In its current form, AA hasn't significantly raised the condition of poor minorities, but has only served to fuel the hateful fires of far right conservative rhetoric.

Raving Black Lunatic