April 1, 2022 | OPINION | By Andrew Hoffman
Last block I wrote an article about Affirmative Action and had promised that I would later go through my personal opinions regarding the subject. With that in mind, I want to look at the primary reasons behind Affirmative Action and defend it.
If you remember from my article last block, Affirmative Action is defined as a wide range of policies on the private, state, and federal level that are aimed at increasing racial, gender and social diversity. Furthermore, in my last piece, I largely focused on what is and is not legal for Affirmative Action policies in higher education.
With that quick refresher, I now argue that Affirmative Action is largely based on the idea that gender and racial diversity is a goal that should be aimed for. In other words, there should be policies that encourage diversity. I don’t believe this argument is that difficult to prove as one of the landmark Supreme Court cases defined as Affirmative Action, Brown v. Board of Education, overturned the notion that separate but equal is legal.
Additionally, Affirmative Action’s origins can be traced to President John F. Kennedy’s attempts to encourage racial diversity in government contractors by limiting people’s freedom of choice, and issuing through executive order that government contractors cannot allow their personal racial biases to influence hiring decisions.
Currently, there is pushback against these policies (to which I went in greater depth in my previous article) aiming to increase racial diversity rates due to the perception that these policies are “unfair.” I would contest this point because, as noted last block, racial consideration for higher education in the United States is extremely minimal and cannot even be a deciding factor for college admissions.
Also, as a side note, contrary to the argument present in the cited article that white people are being discriminated against, a growing literature of studies suggest that white women are actually the primary beneficiaries of these studies.
However, while all that is interesting, that is not and should not be the crux of this argument. Rather, I want to highlight the overarching trend of resisting efforts to diversify that seems to persist in America. There are arguments, similar to the one highlighted above, that equate efforts to diversify with an assault on white people.
There are also arguments that efforts for diversity in higher education actually corrupt the academic process, and it simply appears that when calls for greater representation are made, there is always a continued pushback against these ideals.
This baffles me as the evidence for the benefits of racial diversity is quite clear. Firstly, it should go without saying that under-represented minorities are entitled to the same rights and opportunities as the majority of people in America. Furthermore, even as we continue to dismantle the institutions that support systemic racism in America, we must recognize that the infrastructure of America’s past is still in effect and a half measure is not enough.
If we truly believe that all people are created equal and we have equal opportunities, it should not be possible to have such clear racial disparities in many metrics of success. But sadly, that is not the world that we live in.
Given more time and space, I would love to highlight some of the empirical benefits of racial diversity. However, I will end this article on a personal anecdote.
This is not the first time I have discussed or argued about this topic, and I do not believe it will be the last. But the sad thing is that in my own personal experience, when I try to illustrate how equal opportunities and equal people on the macro level logically means that disparities across race should not exist, I have been met with arguments on how race is a relevant factor in defining people’s capabilities. The fact that arguments like these still exist, and that even wealthy Wasian males still cannot escape these kinds of arguments, should force us all to think critically about how we truly conceptualize race in our society.