Affirmative Action: Self-Perpetuation of Racism based on Differences in Skin Pigmentation

Affirmative action broke on the scene to right a wrong. To level the playing field after years of oppression based on race and ethnic background that  plagues American history. Affirmative action was meant to blur and eventually erase the line created by socio-economic divisions created absent American values of freedom and liberty. BUT – is affirmative action still relevant in 2013 or does it perpetuate the idea that all people are not equals because of skin color?

Black & White

I’m a white man – but unlike a lot of white people in America I grew up in a black neighborhood in South Atlanta. I grew up poor and witnessed (and sometimes experienced) how racism, social expectations, and history can make life tough. All because you are a certain skin color, dress a certain way, and learn a different set of acceptable social norms.

Inequality exists not because their skin was black, specifically, but because society had set a certain standard for being black. And moreover, some black people set a certain expectation for themselves. It’s a subconscious and cultural phenomena that is almost impossible to notice unless you witness it first hand. It’s the common phenomena of rising to meet the expectations (or lack there of) expected from you.

If you are expected to “act black” you do. Just like if you are expected to be a gentlemen, become a lawyer, doctor, graduate college, or be a nobody – one usually rises (or falls) to the occasion.

So I do not deny, that even today, there are numerous cultural and historical factors that when combined act as a weight that make it difficult to be a person of color in the United States. Like the famous anecodote by Maya Angelou – the difficulties of racism are like a cage. No one bar serves to cage you, just like no one factor prevents an individual from being successful. It is when those factors combine – to form many bars of the cage – that trap you. Such is America, but still, does affirmative action really help?

Does Affirmative Action actually Help?

Most people who understand that many minorities are still hindered by the unseen forces of American society would argue that Affirmative Action is necessary. It makes things equal. But I disagree. From my view Affirmative Action, in 2013, serves to maintain the status-quo. Not to change it.

Affirmative Action is government sanctioned racism. It recognizes that people are different based on skin color and it plants a seed of racial inferiority in the soil of American societal foundations. It validates young black people’s idea that they are different. That they need special treatment to be successful. It validates the idea that their culture is more violent, poor, less successful, and incapable of being as successful as non-minorities.

While Affirmative Action attempts to address the social injustices faced by minorities it instead suggest certain individuals are less capable of conquering adversity. That certain groups need or deserve more help from the Government to be equals. It validates and sanctions a negative stereotype. What’s worse – it suggest that those minorities who have earned their place at the table of success did so because they were helped. They were given a hand-out so their successes are somehow less valid than everyone else’s.

For these reasons, among others, I think Affirmative Action in 2013 is counter productive.

6 thoughts on “Affirmative Action: Self-Perpetuation of Racism based on Differences in Skin Pigmentation

  1. hhh4u

    Some of what you discussed pertains to the Role Theory. I talk about it in one of my posts about what it means to see someone. Thanks for your post.

  2. Jon

    Not sure how i feel about the question. But your piece is as persuasive and well-described as any I’ve read. It has the scent of real insight and truth.

  3. philebersole

    I think affirmative action is a bad idea not only for the reasons you mention, but because it clouds the real issue. Affirmative action is presented as a means of redressing the injustices of the past and draws attention away from the more important issue, which is the racial discrimination the exists in the present.

    The classic proof of this was when two testers went out, one black and one white, and they were as identical as they could be made to be except that the white tester said he had a prison record and the black tester said he had a clean record. The white guy supposed ex-convict got more job interviews than the black guy without a criminal record. If you want more documentation, click on the links in the posts below.

    The political scientist Thomas Ferguson says that affirmative action was a scheme for de-fanging the civil rights movement. Instead of providing full employment and equal opportunity for all, affirmative action provided a means by which selected black people could join the elite. (That doesn’t mean I blame black people, or anybody else, for taking advantage of any opportunity that is open to them. Lots of us, myself included, get things to which we are not strictly entitled.)

    More recently, Michelle Alexander wrote a book, The New Jim Crow, about how the drug laws are selectively enforced against young black men who live in the poor areas of big cities. Surveys indicate that white and black people use marijuana and other drugs in roughly the same proportions, yet almost all the arrests are of poor young black men (I emphasize the poor – the Barack Obamas are not in jeopardy).
    Once out of prison, these black felons lose many civil rights and become legitimate targets for discrimination.

    She observed in the book that educated black people such as herself would better spend their time campaigning against injustices such as these as trying to defend affirmative action. I myself would certainly support her more in the former than in the latter.


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