Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

THE LAST WORD: Don't Affirmative Action Critics Watch Old Movies?

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

THE LAST WORD: Don't Affirmative Action Critics Watch Old Movies?

Article excerpt

THE LAST WORD: Don't Affirmative Action Critics Watch Old Movies?.

After reading "Message Rebuffed" (Black Issues, March 23), which concerned the atrocious hate mail incidents that occurred at Cal Berkeley's law school, I felt I simply could not ignore something of this magnitude.

While mulling over my options, I read a recent Tennessee newspaper editorial by a white male student author who stated that affirmative action "flies in the face" of Dr. Martin Luther King's dream that people would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Had his dream come true, the author argued, affirmative action would not be needed. This twisted logic compelled me to set the record straight.

A reading of our country's history reveals that, for hundreds of years, minorities and women were systematically discriminated against. In addition, nothing in our history supports the premise that people in our society will freely do anything positive to alleviate prejudice and racism. Legislation such as affirmative action has always been the only way to make even modest progress toward equality in this country. Citizenship, voting rights for women and minorities, the rights to a quality education and the abolishment of slavery were not created through the "free and goodwill" of the inhabitants of this country. These rights were created through legislation. Without this legislation, I, along with most other minorities and women, would be in the same quandary we were in just 30 years ago.

The editorial writer goes on to state that, "If the recipient of affirmative action were better qualified than his/her competitor, there would be no need for affirmative action." This statement reveals what he truly thinks of minorities and women. He seems to feel that they could not possibly be more qualified than people similar to himself, therefore, they must be given preferential treatment to gain key positions. The writer should be reflecting on how many times in the past qualified minorities and women have been snubbed by companies, universities and corporations so someone's son or friend could have a key position? The number of times this has occurred is probably too staggering to imagine.

Affirmative action was created to alleviate these types of situations, not to create "handouts" as many would have us believe.

It seems that many other citizens feel that minorities have gotten too much, and it's time to put a stop to this and get "their" country back. Don't they understand that the opportunities afforded women and minorities during past years have been minimal? Has it ever crossed their minds that many members of these groups are more qualified than they are? This thought probably did not occur because some people in our country believe in the "bell curve" theory and other nonsense that creates a false sense of superiority.

According to several American history books, Blacks first came to this country in 1619. Native American men and women were here long before Blacks arrived. It amazes me that after all the years of discrimination and racism experienced by minorities and women, a number of people are just now declaring war on discrimination. Don't they know that some of the best jobs that Blacks with master's degrees or Ph. …

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