Updated: Dec 13, 2020
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." -Martin Luther King Jr.
On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered this famous quote among many others. His dream, in essence, was equality for all. At the time he was delivering this speech, America was in the midst of the civil rights movement.
Free Black Americans had truly been discriminated against since the founding of the United States. The civil rights movement ended this discrimination. There would no longer be institutional barriers that restricted African-Americans' access to their God-given and constitutionally protected civil liberties. It was after this period, that we as a society went a little too far.
Affirmative action was a term originally used to refer to the laws passed in the 1960s that made it illegal to discriminate against employees based on race or gender. The term has since become more associated with programs jumpstarted in the 1970s that were designed to systematically inject more minorities into certain career paths or colleges.
Affirmative action is racist by definition. Racism is defined by Miriam Webster as "a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race" Basically, it is the belief that some races are inherently better than others.
After the civil rights movement, many Americans felt they needed to compensate minorities for the discrimination they had once faced. They attempted to do this not by judging them by the content of their character and seeing them as individuals, but by judging them based on their race. Colleges began reserving scholarships for African-Americans, and large employers began making "quotas" for how many ethnic minority employees they were required to have.
Colleges and employers alike should be judging applicants based on their qualifications, not their race. Imagine if in America today, we had scholarships reserved only for White Americans. In fact, that is kind of how it worked before the civil rights movement. I think everyone would agree that is a racist policy. Why then, do we have scholarships reserved only for Black Americans, or Hispanic Americans? Should we deny or allow certain individuals access to education simply because their skin is a different color? No, of course not!
To be admitted into Harvard University as an African-American you are required to score 1100 on the SAT. For those of you not familiar with SAT scoring, that is very low for an Ivy League school. The average high school student in the United States scores 1050 on the SAT. That means 1100 is only 50 points above the national average. The SAT is scored out of 1600, and in order to be accepted as an Asian-American, you're required to score 1350!
Let's take me as an example. I scored 1290 on my SAT. If I were an African-American I would not only be admitted into Harvard with no questions asked, but I may even be given several scholarships. If I were an Asian-American, however, I wouldn't even be considered for admission. Based solely on race!
There is an argument out there, especially in the media, that African-Americans need this leg up because statistically, they come from poorer families. To this argument, I would say, "Why not create a system in which preferential treatment is given based on economic status?" I don't believe in affirmative action of any kind, but at least this would be a stronger argument, as economic status is a much better indicator of scholarship and admission needs than race.
Admission by race is a ludicrous idea. A person should be judged as an individual, not as a member of any particular group. Every race is equally capable of scoring well on standardized tests. The notion that we should lower our expectations of one race or another is foolish and counterproductive. What we should be striving for is equality under the law for all, and it has already been achieved.
Were Martin Luther King alive today to see what affirmative action has become, he would be dismayed. His dream was that people would be judged for their character, not for their race. No man, woman, or child should be judged based on their skin color. That is an uncontroversial statement. It is my hope that one day, Democrats and Republicans alike see that affirmative action is in direct conflict with that statement, and do away with it for good.
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