Gene Lewis Perry

If life were like fairy tales, I'd have been devoured by trolls already.

re: affirmative action

Posted on | November 14, 2007 | Comments Off on re: affirmative action

I have to respectfully disagree with Tiara on affirmative action. Especially this bit:

And how can a white man who has been provided every opportunity in the world honestly say, just because he has a higher GPA or test scores, that he is more deserving than a racial minority or woman who has been denied the same opportunities to achieve his qualifications?

Will we let the resistance of white males to affirmative action renegotiate antidiscrimination law so that efforts to combat discrimination are now discriminatory?

Frankly, the world is still a mighty friendly place for a white guy and to sign this petition is a spit in the face of people who continue to be repressed.

The world does not divide so neatly into white men (privileged) and everyone else (oppressed). And Tiara knows this. She has written too eloquently and sincerely on the plight of poor people in our society to think that being a white guy means you automatically have every opportunity.

She is correct that the lack of outrage against preferential treatment given to children of alumni puts in question the motivations of those who most vehemently oppose affirmative action. However, that doesn’t mean affirmative action itself is the best policy.

Continuing discrimination in America is real, but we shouldn’t ignore that we’ve made great progress since the 60s, 70s, and 80s. At the same time, and especially in the last decade, wealth and income inequality has hugely increased, giving all but the very richest a smaller share of the pie.

We also shouldn’t scapegoat minorities for the problems facing all of us. However, when people’s livelihood and dreams are being squeezed, a backlash against any perceived unfairness is inevitable.

I’m not convinced that affirmative action is the way out of this predicament. No matter what you think of the objections on the merits, it is divisive, and much of the same goal can be achieved by creating more opportunities for anyone escaping from poverty, regardless of race. At a time when all people interested in a more equal society should be banding together to insist on universal health care, a fairer tax system, and better assistance for the poor of all races, affirmative action may be trapping us in the battles of yesterday.

Photo: A Matter of Black and White: The Autobiography of Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher (1996)


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