‘Member how I said I’d talk more about it later? Later = now.
I received a comment on that post – which I’ll respond to here – once I’ve expanded my discussion on the subject a bit further. So here goes.
Affirmative action is an imperfect program designed to compensate for injustice that has been otherwise propagated in the American system. So-called preferential treatment is given to women and minorities because they are under-represented [not represented in a similar relation to their presence in the population] in public institutions. I say imperfect because there are kinks. Sometimes the program is mishandled [often, IMO, to increase dissatisfaction with the program itself] such that an incompetent minority or woman is given a position above their skill/preparation level. These kinds of mistakes fan the flames of ire from members of the majority, and often invoke comments about “reverse discrimination”. These mistakes also help further racist/sexist ideas that women and members of minority groups lack the abilities to attain these positions on their own [on a so-called “fair” playing field], and that is why there would be so few of them, were it not for affirmative action.
The intention of affirmative action [hereafter called AA] is to level the racist and sexist field of American educational, employment, and government systems. Systems that have existed since the beginning of this country [before, even]. The idea is that those who have benefited from being members of the privileged majority have been able to build wealth and take advantage of opportunities and freedom in ways that were restricted for non-majority citizens. Women and minorities start from behind – from disadvantage – in this race to the American Dream. [And it is a race: that’s what capitalism is all about ~ competition.]
In fact, the ideals of capitalism, and the spirit of competition that are sewn into the fabric of our culture are exactly what allowed things to get lop-sided the way they did – necessitating AA in the beginning. They are also the very reason why AA has so many opponents. Those that have been privileged to receive goods & services, employment, training, and enfranchisement instead of or at the expense of others will certainly view any program giving said ‘others’ the opportunity to get the same goods/services/employment etc. as “unfair”. Unfair because it requires them to give up some ground – where before, they had to give up nothing.
But, of course, saying something is unfair does not make it so. Examining the story from a bigger picture/longer view gives better resolution. Inequities built in to the original system can only be remedied with systemic solutions. AA is that solution, until a more perfect one is discovered and agreed upon.