Anti-Affirmative Action

May 6, 2009
By Katie Dean BRONZE, Waxhaw, North Carolina
Katie Dean BRONZE, Waxhaw, North Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

While the principles behind affirmative action and the programs designed to implement equality among the races appear beneficial in many ways, no policy exists without flaw. According to, affirmative action “promotes the rights or progress of disadvantaged persons.” However due to recent distortions of the intentions of affirmative action, reverse discrimination, an unfortunate byproduct of said programs, twisted its way into this system. For example, the 1977 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke court case foreshadowed the way in which reverse discrimination would taint how college admissions programs once viewed accredited applicants. Allan Bakke, an almost overly qualified white male, applied to the Medical School of the University of California at Davis in 1973. Despite his commendable test scores which surpassed many of the minority applicants’ scores of that year, the university declined his requisition to enter the college solely because the last sixteen openings were previously set aside—specifically for minorities. Not willing to give up his dream, Bakke re-applied the following year, and again the university refused to admit him. Three years later, Bakke’s case made its way to the Supreme Court where justices challenged the legitimacy of the university’s actions. The justices turned to both Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution when formulating their ruling on the matter. Title VI clearly states, “no person shall be subjected to… on the ground of race.” The fourteenth amendment promises “equal protection of the laws” to every United States citizen. In accordance with these laws, the justices found it unsound to deny a qualified individual based on his or her race—especially when the underlying purpose of affirmative action programs promoted this practice in the beginning (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Therefore, when universities such as Notre Dame and the University of Michigan award three points each on college applications to “an outstanding essay, leadership, [and] personal achievement” verses “twenty to fifty extra points… for simply existing as [a] minority,” how then does this promote equality and uphold the nation’s constitutional beliefs (Bookrags Staff)?

Aside from the hateful act of reverse discrimination, an even more heinous action occurs as a result of the affirmative action programs—presumptuous entitlement. La Shawn Barber, an active member of Project 21 (or the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatists) ardently believes that today’s current form of affirmative action encourages “that blacks openly and shamelessly assert their right to lower standards.” For example, after a hefty sum of African American teenagers from Florida failed to pass their Comprehensive Assessment Tests in spring of 2003, “the NAACP filed a civil rights complaint while others demanded the test results be thrown out” (Barber). In 2004, studies revealed that twelve percent of United States citizens were African Americans, yet “seventy-five percent of NBA players [were] black” (Parnell). However, no citizen created a program which placed quotas on the amount of minorities versus majorities who could play on teams in the NBA in order to keep representation from each race equal in the “sports world.” The athletes who compete on sports teams earn their positions—no special treatment required (Parnell). Whether in school, on sports teams, or within the workforce people of every race should receive what they earn, depending on how much effort they put into what they aim for—that’s reality! Well, perhaps not. Following the 2003 complaints in Florida, Governor Jeb Bush called for a set up in which the minorities who fell short of passing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests, could still graduate as long as on their SAT or ACT scores they correctly spelled their names (as that approximately equaled the amount of points they then needed to pass the tests after the governor’s final decision) (Barber). This promotes equality in what way? “‘Racial minorities are not less qualified, talented, or capable than the majority. Therefore it is time to stop treating them so by giving them special privileges’” (Parnell).
Sylvester Monroe wrote an article for TIME Magazine in which he researched how the effects the low standards that affirmative action programs hold affects certain minorities once they enter the workforce. “Mignon Williams, 42, a black marketing executive in Rochester, New York,” believes that because the company hired her in through one of its first affirmative action programs in 1977, she feels as if her coworkers (although nice) presume the sole reason for her hiring resided in her ethnic background (Monroe). “‘[I] feel like [I’m] under a microscope and have to constantly prove [myself] by overachieving and never missing the mark’” (Monroe). Thus, how effective are affirmative action programs, although rooted in great intentions, when they cause certain minorities to feel entitled to preferential treatments and others to feel as if they must incessantly prove themselves?

The author's comments:
This article is part of a much larger research paper that juxtaposes the pro's and con's of affirmative action. While this is only my portion, the entire paper was written in sections and pieced together by me and three other friends for our AP Lit. class. it was great to be informed of the many perspectives on affirmative action programs.

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