TWO VIEWS, ONE ISSUE: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION Affirmative action: The bigger issues

As I evaluate the controversy surrounding the bake sale by the Advocates for Conservative Thought, I love the fact that many people are missing the even bigger issues at hand. Given that the bake sale was in fact legal despite its racist nature, it was ethically wrong, especially if the participants are justifying their racist actions to protest the racist nature of affirmative action.

ACT and others may argue that they are making a particular statement about a particular policy, but in reality affirmative action is not a simple, one-dimensional issue.

The very existence of it stems from more than just reverse discrimination; it stems from the roots of prejudice that have plagued this country from the moment it was “settled.” Let’s say that affirmative action is unfair in the area of education – then you have to look at the underlying issues at hand. Is it fair that schools in impoverished neighborhoods don’t have the resources or funding to implement valuable programs while wealthier neighborhoods can afford to pump money into making their students? Where is the “fairness” in that?

Is it fair that, despite vouchers, many minorities are unable to afford the costs of a private education? Is it fair that, even if that minority makes it to college, they are still at a disadvantage because their initial education was unequal in the first place?

If you ask me, though segregation is legally abolished on racial terms, it sounds as though socio-economic separation makes it “okay” that some children in this country don’t receive a fair education because of their tax bracket.

I think it is ironic that we all run to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to support our beliefs for or against affirmative action. When Dr. King said he wished that all people be treated equally and not based on race, socio-economic backgrounds, religion, etc., he meant exactly that – total blindness to those differences. However, because this country is still so rooted in racism, whether some people are able to see it or not, there will always be a need to create “fairness,” even by programs that discriminate against the other groups. So we are left with the problem of both groups claiming “unfairness,” and no one is ever really satisfied.

In my ideal world race doesn’t exist, but as long as people see that it does exist and as long as the correlation between economics and race exists, unfortunately we will always try to find biased ways of trying to “equal it out.”

Marquita Bell can be contacted at m.bell3@umiami.edu.

March 5, 2004


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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