Affirmative Action Harms Everyone, Especially The People It’s Supposed To Protect | Teen Ink

Affirmative Action Harms Everyone, Especially The People It’s Supposed To Protect

March 27, 2019
By Jrosen89 BRONZE, Paramus, New Jersey
Jrosen89 BRONZE, Paramus, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

When it comes to solving the vestiges of our past discriminations, programs like affirmative action first come to mind as a way to “celebrate diversity” and “promote tolerance with differing perspectives”. Despite this incredibly generous description, a multitude of drawbacks come from affirmative action, which prompts individuals to be not so keen on the mere existence of it.

Most recently, Harvard University received a lawsuit over alleged unfair discrimination against  Asian-Americans from their racially-aware admission acceptance rate. Plaintiffs accused Harvard of having a fixed limit on the amount of Asian-Americans applicants they accept, which the university denies.

This case has brought the formerly infamous affirmative action debate back into the spotlight. A lot of the complaints from the allegations are rooted back to affirmative action and highlighting it as a severely broken system. This isn’t the first time a lawsuit has been placed in regards to affirmative action. Back in the 1970s, Allan Bakke took the University of California, Davis, over his application to their medical field after he claimed that they rejected him because he was white.

It’s clear to see affirmative action does have its flaws. The problem is, we’re focusing on the wrong ones.

There’s no cut and clear reason why affirmative action exists. Some say for equal opportunity sake, others say for enriched learning environment sake. While most mean well when they reference the latter, praising affirmative action as a way to bring new and unique perspectives straight from minorities, it comes off more as a way to single out individuals and to expect a much more critical and profound response from minorities than any other average student.

In reality, the sole purpose of affirmative action’s existence is reparations. To balance the playing field for those who used to have the odds not in their favor. That’s what John F. Kennedy intended it to work for in his Executive Order 10925 of 1961, at least.

However, as the years go on, research shows even this much is not achieved. In a 2004 study, it was shown that higher-income students severely outnumbered their lower-income counterparts in selective campuses, a staggering 100 rich students for every 4 poor students. 86% of African American pupils on highly selective campuses were middle or upper class, yet are still low in comparison to the wealth of the white students.

So, what does this mean? What do incomes of student’s families have anything to do with race-based admission?

Let’s take a moment to look at another recent event that has been garnering traction lately. On March 12th, 2019, it was discovered that over 50 wealthy individuals were taking part in an elitist college admission scandal. Celebrities like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman have already been heavily scrutinized by their involvement in the bribery. Through athletic scholarships, donations, and legacy status, children of higher-income families were able to cheat the college acceptance system of elite schools.

Again, why is this connected, if at all, to affirmative action?

Affirmative action can only do so much to protect minority students. At the very least, though, it’s expected it would not take a role in classism.

Only kin of the wealthy, regardless of race, are likely to make spots at the top. This is something that has held true for a very, very long time. Much like profiled discrimination, its past is ugly. The worst part is that both of them have very heavy ties to one another.

An overwhelming majority of students in highly selective campuses are from rich families, also regardless of race. It would be hard to guess how many of them were also in some sort of admission loophole or how many had hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on their schooling to turn them into an institution-made prodigy. Even still, these campuses will always have a significantly higher white presence.

This is a call for race-based admission to go even further than just giving special handouts to the wealthy. This is about helping the discriminated and the poor. Those who are one, or the other, and especially those who are both.

Affirmative Action hurts immigrants, those in urban areas, and those who were brought up with a rough environment. They are the ones who need this boost the most.

The problem all along has not been lazy minorities getting free perks just for being born a certain way in some attempt to ostracize white folks and cause “reverse discrimination”. It is the assumption itself that the only way an oppressed person can make it into the world of higher opportunity is with someone holding their hand and walking them through open doors.

Knowledge is a key tool in one's own economic success. It is a way to unlock the secrets and tricks to help yourself prosper. We should not strip this away from underdogs just to save face and egoism for the elite.

We need to do better. Almost 60-year-old programs are not going to cut it. Educate the poor. That is where most of the problems affirmative action wish it could fix come from. Lower-income minorities are the ones shackled to the ugly past we so desperately want to sweep under the rug. Instead of worrying about something so trivial as to how a minority in your precious all-white campus got in and accusing them of taking a spot away from a white student, focus on why your campus is all-white in the first place and why you believe that spot here doesn’t belong to someone who isn’t.

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