25 March 2013
Affirmative Action: Racial Inequality
After many years of immigration, the United States has become a melting pot for people all over the world with a wide-range of races and ethnicities. Although American culture emphasizes diversity and equal opportunity, its unique history of immigration has shown that people of different races are not created equal. The White race is dominating throughout all aspects of the American society. Fact: "White males are 33% of the population, but 80% of tenured professors, 90% of the U.S. senate, 97% of school superintendents, and 100% of U.S. Presidents" (Jackson 9). What happens to the rest of the American races? Where are the Blacks, Latinos and Asians? Some experts believe that, people who belong to those groups are grossly misrepresented. In 1964, racial inequality in American was being recognized as a problem that needed to be addressed on a national level. A systematic solution was urgently needed to address the racial inequality. Affirmative action was thus born in 1964 with the ideal of creating a better society with equal chances of success for people from different backgrounds and races. Broadly defined, affirmative action refers to efforts to increase educational and employment opportunities for minorities and women. More specifically, it applies to various policies and programs designed to increase the number of minorities and women hired by government and industry and admitted into colleges and universities. As good as the ideal sounded, we have encountered many obstacles implementing the idea into reality. For many decades, because of its impact on individuals, races, and social economic classes, affirmative action has become a source of controversy and a focus of many heated debates. In his book, Hunger of Memory, Richard Rodriguez expressed his belief that affirmative action has devalued the achievements of people of color, and that a system that prefers one race over another is nothing more than another form of racism. For some individuals of minority the existence of affirmative action is a threat rather than an aid to their personal success. They believe that affirmative action undermines their personal achievements. Granting certain privileges to minority groups creates the perception that their positions were given to them rather than earned and that minority people are incapable of competing with white people. Richard Rodriguez testifies to this with his personal experience. Growing up in a poor Mexican immigrant family, he has invested a tremendous amount of effort to achieve the academic level of a scholar. To him it was a scholarship boy's dreams come true (Rodriguez 164). However, his academic success was always associated with his minority status. Mr. Rodriguez speaks his unpleasant feelings towards such an association. Mr. Rodriguez was extremely sensitive about the issue. He believes that being "labeled" as a "minority" has put him in a position that he can never compete with other people without prejudice. Meanwhile, the supporters of affirmative action believe that being racially conscious is merely acknowledging one's social identity. Understanding one's own social identity means recognizing the differences as well as the advantages and disadvantages of being an individual in a diverse society. Affirmative action simply gives people who are socially disadvantaged a "leg up" so that they can compete equally with rest of the society. In an 800-meter race, the runner at the outermost lane gets to start ahead of the runner at the innermost lane, simply because it is a longer run to complete the race at the outer lane than the inner lane. This analogy can be applied to the racial disadvantages of minority students as well. Because of their lack of educational resource and unfavorable study environment, they have to endure many more difficulties to achieve the same academic goals of the majority....
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