Affirmative action no longer reflects needs of society
Published: Thursday, October 6, 2011
Updated: Saturday, October 8, 2011 21:10
On Sept. 27, a student Republican group at the University of California, Berkeley held a bake sale for charity. Here's the catch: the amount that a person paid for a baked good was based solely on that person's race.
Whites had to pay $2, Asians and Latinos paid $1.50, African-Americans paid 75 cents, and Native Americans were charged 25 cents. If the customer was a woman, her price was 25 cents less than her male counterparts.
Needless to say, the sale outraged many people around the country. The student group knew it would be highly controversial and that was just what they wanted.
The true purpose behind the satiric fundraiser was to inspire Californians to think critically about State Bill 185, proposed legislation that would allow the state's universities to consider an applicant's race, gender, ethnicity and national origin during the admissions process.
Currently, California forbids consideration of these factors when admitting students, and SB 185 changes that so the student population of California universities will more accurately reflect the demographic makeup of the state itself.
The student group hosting the bake sale knew it was inherently racist, and they knew people would be outraged. They wanted people to be outraged.
Their point, according to one of the event organizers, was that anything putting one person at an advantage or disadvantage over another based solely on a person's race is intolerable. The parallels between the bake sale and SB 185 are easy to see.
The group contends this type of affirmative action proposal should not be tolerated by any person of any race.
This raises the question: As it stands, does affirmative action still serve its original purpose?
The answer may not be as black and white as one might assume. We must first examine the original intent of affirmative action legislation. The original purpose of affirmative action was to allow minorities and women the opportunity to compete on an equal playing field with the rest of society.
This need was a reflection of the social and political culture of the times, and without the government stepping in to assist, there would have been no guarantee these opportunities would be afforded to those needing them.
Being an optimist, I like to believe our society has come a long way from the discriminatory culture of the last century. I also like to believe the efforts of previous generations have ushered us into an era in which we are judged on our ability and character instead of our gender and race. Affirmative action laws have helped us achieve these things.
Giving benefits to one applicant based on his or her membership in a racial minority discriminates against another. At the same time it helps the first. There is no way to avoid this unjust certainty.
Furthermore, if we are to ever reach a point when racism is non-existent, race can no longer be a factor in judging a person's qualifications to attend a school or receive a promotion.
As it stands, affirmative action has surpassed its ability to promote racial equality and now serves as equality's detriment. As it stands.
Affirmative action is still desperately needed, but modern affirmative action laws must reflect our modern society. There are still those in need of assistance, if they are ever to be afforded equal opportunity, race and gender can no longer be the primary characteristics of discrimination when applying for acceptance into institutions of higher learning.
Instead, the quality of the public education system one attended, whether or not a person was raised in a stable family environment, and other socioeconomic factors weigh heavily into the opportunities one is afforded.
Affirmative action will always be intended to promote equal opportunity. Today, factors that work against equal opportunity are no longer as broad as race and gender. It is therefore necessary for affirmative action laws to be narrowed in order to reflect the current issues contributing to an uneven playing field. Only by changing the meaning of the term "affirmative action" will it continue to effectively serve its original purpose.