Affirmative action: There is no such thing as ‘positive discrimination’


by Brandon Biagini, COLUMNIST

10 November 2017


Many students at Oswego East and around the country are submitting college applications to further their education and obtain skills necessary to excel in their desired careers paths. Achieving academic success is a challenge that involves hundreds of hours of hard work, but some of the greatest roadblocks students may find are from forces outside of their control.

Affirmative action policies in education, first instituted by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, aimed to solve the problem of racial disparity and the disproportionate amount of minority college graduates in the country.

Although effective at increasing the amount of minority students attending colleges and universities, these policies are outdated, having already solved the problem of getting minorities into college. Today, they undermine American values of genuine hard work deserving of reward and success no matter the color of your skin.

Meritocracy is the idea that you should be rewarded based on your ability or merit. In the workforce, employees are promoted not because of a certain status they hold but on their ability to complete their jobs the best.

Affirmative action policies are devoid of such principle. Simply based on the color of your skin, university and college administrations put more or less value on you. By definition, this is racism and discrimination.

Imagine a university or college had a quota to accept more white students over minority students. They offered white students larger scholarships and even in some cases lowered SAT and ACT requirements to get them in the doors.

There would be outrage across the country.

But that is exactly what is happening today, however, the roles are reversed. Minorities receive benefits for college simply based on the amount of melanin in their skin cells, not based on the amount of information in their brain cells.

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For example, at Princeton University, certain minority students receive “bonus points” on their SAT scores to increase chances of their admissions. According to the Los Angeles Times in a report published in 2015, African American students have 230 points added to their scores and Hispanic students receive an extra 185 points.

Obviously, if extra points need to be added onto scores, the individual is not qualified to be attending that college. When underqualified young women and men attend a college with higher standards, you are setting them up for failure. This results in low graduation rates. According to a College Board report from 2008, racial groups that benefit most from affirmative action policies have lower proportional graduation rates.

Not all minorities benefit though. Asian Americans, get penalized 50 points on their SAT. Why? They’re Asian, that’s why.

The idea that we should use discrimination to somehow combat discrimination is absurd. This method does nothing but perpetuate division and conflict along racial lines.

The problem is a complete misunderstanding of the current problem at hand. Minority students are no longer systematically excluded from colleges and universities as they were in the 1960s. Intelligence and dedication is not in any way related to skin color either.

The problem of disproportionate representation of minorities in colleges and universities lies in cultural differences among races, not race itself. Affirmative action policies ignore this and instantly assume that because you’re black or Hispanic, you’re of lower intelligence and need boosts to get you into college.

The same College Board report shows that Asian Americans have the highest proportional graduation rate in the United States. To suggest that this has anything to do with their race is unsubstantiated. The “highest proportional graduation rate” does, on the other hand, have quite a bit to do with culture, which is not a bad thing.

Asian Americans spend more time and money on education than any other racial or ethnic group according to the same Los Angeles Times article. We have seen what is reality become almost a caricature in pop culture, but the reality that Asian American culture embraces the importance of education is profoundly true. Emphasis on education and academic success has been commonplace in many Asian communities for decades. This in turn leads to greater percentage of Asian Americans seeking higher education.

Is that such a terrible thing for this country that individuals are raised and taught by their parents to seek a higher education?

This value of education is not exclusive to Asians. No matter your race, ethnicity, gender, or creed, you can dedicate yourself to achieving a diploma.

The unfortunate reality is that these values in education and hard work are not particularly commonplace nowadays. There needs to be a fundamental shift in culture to turn this around. No longer should Asian American culture be synonymous with academic success. No longer should African-American culture be characterized as academically disenfranchised or incapable.

Now is the time for America as a whole to adopt and nurture an entire culture of academic promise and success. Asian Americans shouldn’t be the subject of stereotypes of being smart and proficient in academics. This should become a stereotype for all Americans, no matter your race.

Parents of all races need to instill in their children these values so that they can rise above and become successful individuals.

Affirmative action policies that put emphasis on race instead of merit need to be done away with. They are institutionalized racism, and contradict American principles.

We must all understand that we aren’t white or black, Hispanic or Asian. We’re individual people, with individual strengths and weaknesses, with individual goals. We must stop dividing ourselves based on skin color, and have a fair chance at getting the education we need to make our country an even better place.  



Brandon Biagini is a columnist for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the HOWL

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