Top 10 Reasons Affirmative Action Is a Bad Idea
Affirmative action is the policy of giving preferential treatment to minorities, women, and other underrepresented groups. It is used in an attempt not only to eliminate discrimination, but to set right the effects of discrimination in the past. The policy was initiated in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy signed the Executive Order 10925, ordering all federally funded programs to take active steps to make sure that minority groups are employed and treated fairly. Later, it was expanded and even admission to institutions and access to healthcare, among others, have been affected by the policy. Well, looking at the current status of our society today seems to indicate that the policy has been quite a success. However, many critics of affirmative action believe that the policy is no longer necessary and has to be eliminated as it already leads to more problems than solutions. The following reasons explain why affirmative action programs should no longer continue.
10. Affirmative action leads to reverse discrimination
Affirmative action was created to finally end discrimination and give everybody an equal playing field, but in reality, it does the opposite. Many white students today, despite having excellent grades and being more qualified, are having a difficult time to get into college because many institutions favor the minorities. Take for instance the case of Allan Bakke, a white California man who was twice denied admission to the University of California Medical School at Davis. In an effort to promote equality, the school’s policy was to reserve 16 percent of its admission places for minorities. Bakke was denied twice because of the school’s “quota” system, despite having higher grades and test scores. The same is true in the field of employment. In 2009, a group of firefighters was unfairly denied for promotions because of being white.
Sure, affirmative action has good intention. But imagine that you were a white male student, who has worked hard all his life to get good grades and qualify for admission to a university, but you were denied because there was only one slot left and that was already reserved to a minority student, even though that student is less qualified than you. What would you feel? Do you think that’s fair? Of course, not.
Many opponents of affirmative action feel that this kind of policy is morally unjust and promotes reverse discrimination. It does not only give the majority group an unfair treatment in the field of higher education and employment, but it also does punish them for crimes that they haven’t done. One of the reasons for implementing affirmative action programs is to make up for past wrongs. But the past is past, and those people who have racist ancestors must not take responsibility of what happened hundreds of years ago. Just because they have racist ancestors doesn’t mean that they will do the same and they liked what happened. After all, they weren’t there, so that wasn’t their fault. And let’s not forget that not all whites were unfriendly toward blacks earlier in history. As a matter of fact, some of them even experienced suffering comparable to that of blacks. Isn’t it unfair to give them all the burden of past wrongs?
9. It rewards wrong people
Another great concern why many critics want to abolish this policy is because it automatically rewards people who do not actually deserve such opportunities. Take for instance the unqualified students who are able to get into college just because the admission standards have been lowered for them, as well as the unskilled workers who are able to get hired for a job just because they are blacks or Hispanics. While not all minorities are taking advantage of the situation, it’s true that there are some minorities who use their “minority” status in order to get ahead in life.
Actually, the real problem is much more complicated than that. Isn’t the initial purpose why affirmative action policy was implemented was to compensate for past discrimination or present disadvantage? If that so, then only people, who have been victimized by past discrimination and slavery, should be given preferential treatment. However, current affirmation programs are providing benefits to “all members” of minorities, whether or not they have suffered unjust treatment. In fact, even those, who are in the middle and upper class, are taking a lot of benefits and using their race and ethnicity to easily advance in life.
8. It encourages people to seek easy access rather than work hard
Affirmative action is also no longer helping the “underprivileged” society, the reason why many critics want to abolish it. As mentioned, many minorities are already taking advantage of their status in order to get benefits and acquire the things they need in an easy way. They no longer work or study hard because they know that they can get help, no matter what. Ultimately, they become weaker and much more dependent.
The truth is, there are so many talented and intelligent people that belong in the group of minorities. However, not all of them are able to discover their true potential because they’re focusing too much on “getting help” than “working hard.” If affirmative action would be abolished, these people would have no choice but to work hard like everybody else, which will ultimately help them discover and use their true potential. I guess it’s truly better to eliminate the racial preference in order to make them realize that nothing in this world comes easy – that you should work hard if you want to achieve something. In addition, it will also make them realize that even if they’re blacks or came from a poor family, they still have ability to compete and succeed in life. Take for instance the famous Oprah Winfrey and President Barrack Obama. These people are black and came from poor, but they never let their background interfere with their success.
7. It devalues the person’s real accomplishments
As we know, affirmative action gives all minorities an increased opportunity for employment and education. And it’s true that since the implementation of the policy, a lot of minorities, especially blacks, have benefited from it.
However, since its policy works by giving “special” treatment for minorities, it’s sending an impression that people from the target group only achieve success because of affirmative action. That even though they are talented and truly achieved their positions though hard work and intelligence, their achievements are still demeaned by the public and they are perceived as someone who only got to the top because of preferential treatment. And worse, this sometimes makes them even question their own competence, leaving a lasting and damaging effect on the emotional and mental well-being of the students. How can you feel truly fulfilled when a lingering doubt about your achievement plagues you?
I believe many of you have seen it occur many times before. Perhaps, you’ve already experienced labeling one of your colleague’s successes as a result of affirmative action. Well, you’ve also seen it during the 2008 presidential election, when Obama won the presidency. Many people, during those times, believed that Obama only got to Harvard Law because he was black. Although he was hard working and gifted, many thought that his success purely came from the policy. The same is happening to many minority lawyers, doctors, and educators. People doubt their real ability and believe that they only got to where they are due to preferential treatment. So I guess, it’s really just right to eliminate the affirmative action policy. Sure, most minorities, even Oprah Winfrey, Clarence Thomas, President Barrack Obama, and other famous black people have benefited from it, but that doesn’t mean that they never worked hard to get to where they are now.
6. It lowers standards and makes people less accountable.
Another reason why affirmative action has to be eliminated is because it lowers the standards of personal responsibility. Ever since affirmative action has come into play, many organizations, particularly schools, businesses, and federally funded establishments, have been forced to lower their standards so that more blacks and certain group of minorities can be admitted to the university and get hired for a job.
However, instead of helping the minorities, this policy only harms them. Affirmative action makes these people so much dependent on the help of others, to the point that they settle for mediocrity because they know that they may get the position anyway. If you were a black student who realized that you can get into Harvard with a 3.0 grade point average (GPA), would you push yourself to get a 4.0? Well, most students will not. Why would you try hard to get an excellent score when you can get accepted even if you only have a good or average point?
This is one of the very reasons why many opponents of affirmative action want to abolish the system. Lowering the standards only leads to increasing the number of students who are ill-equipped in college and at work. And if we think that we’re helping them give the education and job they need, we’re wrong. Because this only gives them much more difficult time to learn. A student or a worker, who isn’t qualified but gets accepted, will only find it hard to keep up and handle the duties assigned to him. Of course, when he fails to perform his duties, he will never be able to get the promotion he needs, which makes him resentful in the end.
So, it’s time to abolish this policy. If we really want to help the minorities and promote equality, we should reward people who really worked hard and performed their best, and not those who only relied on the help of others.