The Supreme Court will soon decide Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which challenges the university’s race conscious admission policies. The case resolves around Abigail Fisher, who believes that she was rejected from Texas because she was white, even though she believes she was more qualified than some minority applicants. This case has brought back up discussions concerning the fairness and effectiveness of affirmative action. Some believe it is a form of reverse racism while others believe it is necessary to atone for hundreds of years of discrimination.
I would love to live in a society where race was not relevant and we are judged on our merits. However, we do not live in that society and we have to deal with discrimination. That is why I believe that affirmative action is necessary and I do not think is it a form of reverse racism. I believe the argument of “reverse racism” is based upon common misconceptions about affirmative action that need to be dispelled. First of all, the point of affirmative action is not to give unqualified minorities opportunities over qualified members of the majority. The goal of affirmative action is to put qualified minority candidates on equal footing with their white counterparts. Secondly, government entities cannot have “quota systems” because they have been held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court so race alone will not get anyone into college. Other factors, such as grades, test scores, community service, and work experience, must be considered. Therefore, unqualified minority candidates do not take the spots of qualified white students. In fact, there are probably just as many, if not more, white students who are admitted to college due to “legacy admissions” as there are minorities admitted due to affirmative action, but I haven’t any complaints about that lately.
My only problem with affirmative action is the perception that goes along with the policy. Affirmative action can sometimes undermine the hard work that a minority has put in to be admitted to college. When minority candidates are seen on college campuses a lot of them hear comments such as, “You’re only got in because of affirmative action,” which is unfair because they worked just as hard, if not harder, as everyone else who is admitted to college.
Bill Mears of CNN.com believes that the mostly conservative Supreme Court will strike down Texas’ policy in some way, but will not invalidate affirmative action all together. I hope he is right because even though affirmative action may be an imperfect system, it is only system we have right now that will make sure minorities are given every opportunity that whites are given.