January 10, 2010
By alyssamichele SILVER, Houston, Texas
alyssamichele SILVER, Houston, Texas
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Affirmative action is still being debated amongst people of all ethnicities today. It has been the deciding point for many people’s futures. While some people believe in bettering minorities’ and women’s futures, others believe that it causes more hatred and if not used correctly, more segregation. While both sides of the argument have merit, the pros have tilted the playing field in favor of affirmative action. Affirmative action can give minorities the initiative and opportunities to strive and be the best they can be.

When universities only look at an applicant’s high school transcript, this might cause them to overlook the child’s full potential. In order to fully understand what the child is capable of, university admittance committees need to look at the individual and his or her circumstances. For example, the standardized test called the SAT is suppose to test the scholastic aptitude of the child, but instead it measures “absolutes like native ability and merit but accidents like birth, social position, access to libraries, and the opportunity to take vacations or to take SAT prep courses” (Fish 3). Originally, “the principle deviser of the test was an out-and-out racist” (Fish 3). Although a non-minority may have scored a few points more on the SAT or any other standardized test, the admissions committee needs to take in consideration that the minority might have had to overcome more obstacles than the more privileged applicant. To reaching the same goal, one child might have had to work harder. The minority might have taken “the road less traveled by” (Frost).

Researchers have proven that obstacles such as living in a bad environment result in higher dropout rates. It is proven by William Harms, a children psychiatrist, that using complex sentences around children increases their ability to understand elevated syntax. If a child that is a minority is living in a bad neighborhood because they weren’t given the same opportunities as others, their learning comprehension would greatly suffer. On average lower-income environments tend to have worse conversation skills then people of other classes. Typically lower income schools look like they are full of desperation, which the overwhelming amount of cracks and hole on the building try to hide. “These children are told by the conditions of their school and the quality of their education that they are worthless” (Kozol 1991). On the same level as this belief, “Branham (2004) found that the quality of the school infrastructure was related to school attendance and drop-out rates in the Houston, TX school district such that students were more likely to be truant and to drop-out altogether in schools that were in need of structural repair” (Walters 2). The evidence shown not only proves that more opportunities and recognition can better a community, but it shows how affirmative action can change someone’s life. Affirmative action helps remove those obstacles.

A man by the name of Khaled Ali Beydoun experienced the mercy and hope of affirmative action. Sometime in the eighties his single mother and his self came to America from Lebanon. They were in search to better themselves. Coming from Lebanon, he and his mother basically spoke one language, which was Arabic. He was academically behind all the American students that he met. He found ways to speed his learning and these places were called affirmative action schools. These schools were for minorities that needed to be academically caught up with their piers. He worked hard and strived. He is now in his twenties attending UCLA. Affirmative action gave him the hope when normally he would have been pushed aside. Playing the minority game is heart aching and “when the deck is stacked against you in more ways than you can even count, it is small consolation to hear that you are now free to enter the game and take your chances” (Fish 2). Affirmative action can give people like Khaled a future. Affirmative action has opened the doors and all he has to do is walk right in.

Those that believe affirmative action causes racism completely disregard the fact that affirmative action doesn’t segregate people, but it actually intermingles the groups, bringing them together. Affirmative action is “a product of human endeavor to find the friendliest solution to racism” (Fish 3). Affirmative action is created to give and help the minorities to gain a better future. It is the friendliest way to try and not cause reverse racism. Affirmative action has been proven “to help correct previous racisms, and it is not a chance to gain revenge” (Fish 3). It is faulty to even call it revenge or reverse racism because the “racism” brought on by the minorities to the white people is not the normal denying of rights, abuse, or stealing. The real definition of affirmative action is a design “ to redress the imbalances caused by long-standing discrimination” (Fish 2). Affirmative action is proven to close the gaps between minorities and white people. “The distinction must surely be made between the ideological hostility of the oppressors and the experienced-based hostility of those who have been oppressed” (Fish 2). This distinction is clearly not reverse racism, but is only a way to try to level out the playing field. In fact, “the playing field is already tilted in favor of those by whom it was constructed in the first place” (Fish 2). The playing field is already tilted which proves that affirmative action can’t be the source of reverse racism, but is the solution to stop racism.

Also, affirmative action apparently causes more segregation. Affirmative action does not cause segregation but allows the “possibility of racial admixture” (Fish 3). It allows people to intermingle. As Fish states, “The American way is to focus on the rights of the individuals rather than groups.” If the leaders of our country use affirmative action to help individuals with specific problems, our country would be more successful and in turn, it would allow minorities to intermingle with people of different ethnicities. It puts everyone equal to each other. If we have minorities with the same job opportunities as non-minorities, people will not look at them as useless or different, but they would just look at them as another person. Affirmative action gives the minorities a chance to be equal to the majority allowing them to take on cultures and customs through work and school. Affirmative action both leads to more jobs opportunities and in turn, more racial admixture.

Overall, affirmative action is still being debated in America today. Affirmative action gives minorities possibilities that would never be available to them otherwise. From Khaled to many others, affirmative action has been the deciding point between a good and bad future. Bad environments have been proven to lower a child’s academic performance. Why make minorities settle for bad environments? Why not give them the hope that no matter who they are or where they came from they can still open the door to success? Affirmative action is needed and only builds our country up for success.

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