I’m sure anyone who has read my blog for more than a week knows how I feel about gay marriage. Affirmative action, on the other hand, I haven’t addressed. Maybe it’s because I’m in the midst of college admissions season, or maybe it’s because I’m feeling frustrated from a lack of sleep, but the absolute unfairness of affirmative action – and the fact that so few are saying anything about it – drives me to publish this post.
I hear people say all the time that race-based affirmative action is supposed to ameliorate past injustices. That’s almost completely inaccurate – instead of healing past wounds, it’s opening new ones. Statistics show that Asian-Americans, and to a lesser extent, Caucasians, are disadvantaged in the college admissions process solely because of their race. They have to attain better test scores, grades, and achievements than African-Americans and Hispanics. Several of those receiving benefits from race-based affirmative action never even experienced segregation or slavery, and either way giving preference to one race over another perpetuates the cycle of prejudice. One should never think that their race, sexuality, or gender alone merits low self-worth or low intellect. Adversely, one should never think that they get a free pass just because they’re of a certain skin color.
Another common argument is that affirmative action helps the underprivileged. Now, I am 100% supportive of need-based affirmative action. If someone has had to spend most of their time working to help their parents pay the rent instead of having time to study, they do deserve some help to even the playing field. But race-based affirmative action, in this context, makes no sense. You can have an astonishingly wealthy African-American teen whose mom is a doctor and whose dad is a lawyer, and you can have an Asian-American teen whose parents are both janitors. For the African-American teen to acquire any sort of advantage in this case – and in many other cases – is simply ridiculous. Any person with money can buy SAT review books, SAT prep courses, tutors to help with their college applications, etc. irrespective of their race. It’s the financial factors that truly establish the disparities between who is disadvantaged and who is doing well enough.
Affirmative action decided in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978. I’m sure the Supreme Court had good intentions – they wanted to eliminate racism and give everyone an equal chance. But the exact opposite is occurring now. Everyone deserves an equal chance, but several years have passed, and blacks and Hispanics are receiving more than an equal chance. What began as a moral equalizer has become an ironic mistake of the education system.
Now, I don’t want anyone to be calling me racist – I don’t have anything against blacks or Hispanics or whites or purple-colored people. It’s just that I have many half-white and half-Asian friends, and I always feel a mixture of frustration and sadness whenever they check off “Caucasian” on their college applications because it will help them get in. It’s horrible that they have to – and want to – hide a part of their cultural identity, just because it will make it easier for them to get into a good college.