The issue of affirmative action leaves me at a standstill, to the point that sometimes my brain shuts off when attempting to discuss it in public, especially if I’m nervous. Part of me is against it.
Sure, I’m against discrimination in any field, particularly when it is based on something as meaningless and arbitrary as race when there are so many better reasons to dislike someone. Nevertheless, I don’t believe implementing some sort of minority quota is the solution. Not only should this decision be based on merit and ability, but also when it comes to the private sector, if a workplace is actively hostile to you for no reason whatsoever, what would forcing them to take you in accomplish? Yes, a paycheck is nice, but I fail to see how anyone can get any sort of job satisfaction in a place where they are not wanted.
Worse, how can you even feel like you’re the best person for the job, knowing that a quota placed you there? The very notion of earning your keep becomes shaky in such a situation.
And that’s the honest side of the problems.
Affirmative action is conversely a great exploit for people to use; a back door into all sorts of benefits due to accidents of birth. I should know. As half White -European and half Hispanic, I’ve played the race game as far as it was convenient. During most of my high school career I was by and large white, yet the moment college time came my applications were either white or Hispanic depending on the area I was applying to and the advice of my guidance counselor.
My scholarship search also benefited greatly from my sudden burst of Hispanic spirit, and in a few occasions my Hungarian accent became whatever Hispanic accent people wished to assume it was. Needless to say, the hypocrisy of my own actions tends to weaken whatever stance I adopt in this issue. But as much as I may not like it, I have to admit there really is no better solution proposed at the moment. Even I know that Miami is by no means indicative of the general climate along the Unites States. The inherent cultural diversity of this place has more or less forced the hand of the populace, making affirmative action much less of an issue than in other areas of the country. As far as I’m concerned, affirmative action is as close as our government (and by extension us, its people) gets to admitting that racism does, in fact, exist. I wish it wasn’t an issue, but until that day comes, I’m glad that it is being discussed by far better people than I.
Endre Enyedy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.