Affirmative Action: Yay or Nay?

Cross posted on Saira Says

In 1961 President Kennedy issued Executive Order No. 10925 which began an era of Affirmative Action based legislation that set out to ensure that hiring and employment practices are free of racial bias, this went on to include schools and colleges. Today,  there are many proponents and many opponents of Affirmative Action . Tomorrow one of those opponents will have their day in court. The Supreme Court of the United States will be hearing Fisher v. University of Texas and as Andrew Cohen says in The Atlantic:

No matter how hard good folks have worked to argue otherwise, no matter how many amicus briefs have been filed, I do not see five votes to sustain the university’s policy here. Instead, I see five strident votes to do away with that policy — and others around the country.

Plenty has been said about the advantages and disadvantages of Affirmative Action. But what do your regular everyday folks think? As you’ll see below, I’ve compiled quotes and comments from friends, acquaintances, and the mosh-pit that it the internet to provide an honest, albeit sometimes grim, look at why some folks support or don’t support Affirmative Action.  I will be updating this list as I get submissions and find more comments.

In my opinion, if there was no race section on the application, court cases like this wouldn’t exist (on either side) because no one could claim unfair treatment.. It says UT said they wouldn’t have accepted her regardless and if there was no race section she would have to accept that and move on. Besides, a check mark in a box doesn’t necessarily tell a university anything about the person’s background. I think programs like Meyerhoff and CWIT who are funded for the purpose of helping underrepresented groups should be given more attention instead, and the focus should shift from race/minorities to under served communities such as rural areas and inner city. – Kate W.

I’ve always thought of affirmative action as a kind of “false start.” A racist/sexist entity taking in more minorities and those of opposite sex while limiting access to the more established groups solely to fulfill some arbitrary quota so as not to appear racist/sexist is still racist/sexist. You haven’t really done anything. You’ve changed the law in the hopes the culture would change with it. There’s also the question of at what point do we still need affirmative action and societal norms can take over? The only real reason we keep it around is because we haven’t thought of a better system and until we do we’re going to keep running into problems like this. The problem isn’t just limited to the schools. I know multiple people who have been trying to get a job as a police officer and been flatly told “we have enough white officers. – Sean L.

As long as you continue to acknowledge race as a characteristic that defines and divides people, be it in an educational, professional, or scholastic manner, you will be plagued by these issues. Its just as Kate said, “If we took the checkboxes away what would happen?” I recognize that discrimination and racism are not totally extinct and that measures to ensure equal opportunity need to be taken, but our focus should be on economic opportunity based on family income, poor kids have a tough time growing up and getting those opportunities regardless of their color. Stop using race as a category, in the spirit of capitalism, “Let us be judged by our monies!” – Ben D.

It is a high possibility that Abigail Fisher was denied because she was part of the white demographic not because she is white.Texas’s population is 70.4% white, 37.6% Latino with African American, Asian, American Indian, etc. accounting for 16%. The university in my view is simply seeking to receive students which fall into that 16% to have a more well rounded student body… and to not look discriminatory and have a PR nightmare…oh wait. – Ivan S.

Honestly, Abigail probably souldve been selected had done exceptionally well in academics or some other field. I believe that the more average the person, the more likely they are to get denied based on race. HOWEVER, its as simple as this: the check boxes for race should be taken off every application…school and otherwise. – Lauren R.

Stop making it about race, start making it about socio-economic status. I think children born into low opportunity households should be given an extra chance or two somewhere down the line to fight disparity of wealth. -Wylie B.

The following comments were tagged as “affirmative action” on Tumblr. Please don’t let the blog names fool you, tumblr is an online community where people don’t usually attach their actual name to posts, their tumblr url appears instead.

White privilege is assuming that the only reason you were not accepted to a university was because of some type of unfairness, not because of your own lack of qualifications. Sub point: white privilege is also assuming you know how affirmative action works, and it works against you, because you didn’t feel the need to actually read any of the court cases delineating what legal affirmative action was/wasn’t. You just knew that anything that equalized the playing field for POCS automatically infringes on you rights.

Little known fact about Allan Bakke, of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke: he was 33 when he applied to a 6-year medical school program and was repeatedly rejected for being “too old.” Thus, a case that should’ve been about ageism was instead “racialized.” In Ms. Fisher’s case, she “racialized” her mediocrity. What an incredible sense of entitlement. – No More Texas Governor

Abigail Fischer’s case is bankrolled by affiliates of the Koch brothers. Her father is close friends with those conservative loonies. Their *whole plan from the beginning* was to take this to the SCOTUS and get affirmative action/race based admission overturned. -Spooky Princess Kitten

The fact that she blamed her rejection on black students and affirmative action in general is racist in itself. Basically she is saying that all PoC at that university are a result of affirmative action as they could not have possibly gotten in without it and they are taking “her spot”. Just a disgusting amount of privilege oozing from this one. -Blckboi

Someone should tell her that most benefactors of affirmative action have been white women (such as herself), not people of colour. Also, it’s hilarious to me when people complain about affirmative action considering for decades, people of colour were denied from universities because of their race and that there are still disparities in education according to race since race and class intersect (many lower class citizens happen to be POC). Not only that, but no one complains about legacy admissions—legacy admissions that afford white students opportunities to get into universities because their great great white grandfather went to a university back in the day when POC couldn’t. Additionally, special admissions systems benefit white students the most. Affirmative action is there to level a playing field and that has not yet been accomplished because there are still systems in place that present huge obstacles for POC. This student is obviously blinded by her privilege and doesn’t realises that she’s blaming the wrong people. She’s pointing fingers at POC and only looking out for herself. I hope she loses and I hope that whoever’s responsible for the case serves her up some truth tea.  – Pumpkin Melancholy

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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