Affirmative action is discrimination

Andy Hudlow and Libby Grygar

Here in the United States we’re told that in order to get into a good college all we need to do is work hard in high school, study hard for the ACT or SAT, and keep up a robust extracurricular resume. Now that assumption seems logical, fair, and above all that would apply to everyone equally and reward hard work and effort. But now something has corrupted that chain of events and led to a barely acknowledged injustice that affects each and every high school student who intends on going to college: Affirmative Action.

Affirmative Action, for those who don’t know about it, is the process of assigning value to certain minority ethnic or racial groups that will play a part in a college’s admissions process. So, if academically identical white and black students apply to the same school, the black student would most likely be accepted to the school over the white student on the basis of promoting the ever present goal of diversity. The premise was that because America has had a horrible history with race relations (no denying it) and that it’s modern America’s duty to make up for the past by making it easier for minority students to get a college education.

But the basic problem at the root of Affirmative Action is that by enforcing it, more discrimination is actually occurring. Logically, this does not, and cannot, help defeat racism or racial inequality. One cannot ever hope to defeat racism with more racism. This is still systematically assigning value to someone’s race when the whole point of the entire Civil Rights movement was to break down barriers between different races, to stop seeing someone’s race as something that can be preferred or valued.

By allowing Affirmative Action to continue in the United States, we continue to erode trust in our institutions of highest learning as well as eroding confidence in the minority students who are admitted into those institutions. If a minority student is accepted into a prestigious university, the question will always be whether or not he or she would’ve gotten into that college without help from Affirmative Action, and that’s not fair. Why should a student who’s undoubtedly worked hard his or her entire way through high school be denied the credit for attending a great college? In this manner, the program specifically designed to uplift minorities and provide them with a higher education will continually call their competence and worthiness into account, by no fault of their own.

It’s essentially telling minority students that, without their ethnicity, they would not have as good of a chance at getting into college as their white counterparts, implying racism even as it strives to combat it.

And if the goals of Affirmative Action are truly to help the underprivileged, then any sort of preference in enrollment should be based off socioeconomic factors instead of racial ones. Is an impoverished white student who attends a terrible public school more “privileged” than a wealthy Hispanic student from a tremendous private school? No, absolutely not, but Affirmative Action in its current form treats it as so. A middle ground between abolishing Affirmative Action and continuing it would be to shift it to focusing on socioeconomic factors, still helping the target minorities that it is supposed to, but actually having real fairness, instead of racism, ingrained into the system.

Simply put, at its most basic form, Affirmative Action is an attempt to cancel out racism with even more racism. Its goals are noble, but the effect of those goals only perpetuates the notion that without programs such as these minority students would be helpless to advance their own academic careers. In the words of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race.”