The U.S. government’s situation regarding affirmative action policy, which favors groups who are prone to discrimination in education and employment, is a predicament comparable to that of a student whose classmate is struggling on an exam. The student wants his classmate to perform well on the test, and succumbs to the temptation to supply him with the answers. Though his intentions are noble, his “help” merely allows his friend short-term success.
Well, it’s about time that America stops “giving out the answers.” Women and minorities are still stagnating behind other demographics in the workplace, and just like the struggling classmate who is handed the answers, they aren’t being helped in the long-term by the government’s support of affirmative action legislation.
The unemployment rate for African Americans as of February 2013 was almost two times higher than that of whites, and women still earn between 19 and 25 percent less than their male counterparts. Rather than rectifying this problem by attacking it at its source, affirmative action is a derisory remedy for blanketing it with a better surface appearance.
Standards are in place for necessity and practicality. They ensure that a person’s qualifications render him or her capable of performing well at a job or in higher education. There will be some people who meet such standards, some who exceed them, and naturally some who fall behind.
As a society, we are going about improving the socioeconomic statuses of women and minorities in much the wrong way if we continue to believe that the only way to do so is by loosening these standards. We need to help minorities and women reach these standards.
If we continue to do otherwise, affirmative action, though implemented with honorable intentions, will only cripple the empowerment of these groups by making their successes less about their own merit and work ethic and more about their gender and the color of their skin.
It ultimately must be remembered that diversity runs deeper than gender and skin color. We need to have a greater sense of confidence in this country’s ability to become an accepting and colorblind society, and affirmative action is putting a bind on progress.
Instead, let’s invest in achieving the long-term, genuine success of women and minorities.
I’m calling for a different type of affirmative action. Let’s pursue better early education programs in low-income areas, better living environments, better resources. Let’s stop trying to treat the symptoms of the gender and racial gaps and start trying to cure the disease.