Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What was the purpose of Affirmative Action?

Let me share this first:
“WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s decision to send a thorny affirmative action case back to the lower courts for additional review left both sides claiming victory on Monday”.
“Edward Blum, the man who has been the driving force behind the challenge to the University of Texas at Austin ruled on by the court, scoffed at the claims of a victory from groups that support affirmative action. “If they are excited about this ruling,” he said, I think it’s gravely misplaced”.
“The decision, Mr. Blum said, “begins the restoration of the original colorblind principles to our nation’s civil rights laws,” and will both hasten the end of racial preferences in schools across the nation and unleash a flood of lawsuits. Under the justices’ requirement that racial distinctions in admissions be subjected to a tough constitutional test, he said, “it is very unlikely that most institutions will be able to overcome these hurdles”.
“Experts without a strong stake in the case said that neither side should feel fully triumphant, and that the issue was far from resolved”.
“Affirmative action (known as positive discrimination in the United Kingdom, and as employment equity in Canada and elsewhere) refers to policies that take factors including race, color, religion, sex, or national origin into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group" in areas of employment, education, and business".
Affirmative action, was intended to promote the opportunities of defined groups within a society (for example minorities, underrepresented, and underprivileged). It was often used in government and educational settings with the idea to ensure that these groups within a society are included in all programs (trying to give a fair shot). The often stated justification for affirmative action by its proponents was to compensate for past discrimination, persecution or exploitation by the “ruling class of a culture”, and to address existing discrimination
(I paraphrased this from various sources)
In other words, it was designed to help people, especially those who needed help.
Unfortunately, politics and personal opinion often come into play with things like this, and very rarely do people come to the table with a truly open mind and altruistic heart. I had mentioned the other day a 400-year history of discrimination cannot be erased within 50 years. So do we need affirmative action? Probably not in the same way it started, however, the data shows the groups originally targeted for affirmative action still need the scales balanced when it comes to education.
Do not assume that the color of someone’s skin means they need or were an affirmative action case. According to the labels used, I am considered a “minority” in this country simply because of the color of my skin, but I assure you there is nothing minor about my background. I needed no extra help in school because I grew up from generations of privilege and the culture of my parents was strong.
Those who are privileged generally know nothing else and often do not (and cannot) see the reasons for things like Affirmative action. Yes in the United States, the opportunity to make it is there for almost everyone, but it does not mean everyone will. In addition, everyone could use a hand at some point, and that comes in many ways: family, friends, community, church, and education.
Affirmative action is supposed to lend a hand, and for people who profess to be “Christians” what is wrong with lending a hand. Instead of spending all that time and money on fighting something you do not understand, why don’t you try to understand it and then come up a way to revamp the system for the 21st century?
This not about you, it is not about me, it is about helping the next generations be productive members of society. It is about helping people.
Dr Flavius A B Akerele III
The ETeam

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