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Few government policies are more counterproductive than affirmative action. Its origins trace back to the presidential terms of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, both of whom sought to curb discrimination and improve the lives of, namely, impoverished blacks. At the time, affirmative action served its purpose. Today, however, affirmative action is outdated and detrimental; it perpetuates a colorized America, an America of the past.
Most importantly, affirmative action discourages accountability among blacks. Proponents utilize blacks’ failures as a justification to increase our affirmative action efforts. And, black Americans’ successes are too often attributed not to one’s work ethic or ingenuity, but to affirmative action. Thus, it categorizes the black man as either a victim of societal racism or a product of this victimhood scheme. Either way, it classifies him firstly as the member of a race and a policy, and secondly, as a member of society.
Favoring color over competence is counterproductive, regardless of the intended beneficiaries’ race. Consider the following role‐reversed example: similar to other industries, the National Basketball Association is an industry in which capability supersedes color. It’s no secret that, generally, the NBA’s most talented players are African‐American. Why? It’s because coaches seek to assemble championship‐caliber teams, and therefore select players based on nothing more than talent.
Let’s pretend that David Stern, commissioner of the NBA, enacts a rule that mandates teams to replace its starting players with five, less skilled men of Caucasian descent. The result of such a rule would diminish the NBA’s aggregate talent, as management could no longer assemble their teams based on merit. Surely, less talented teams would garner less public interest. Consequently, ticket revenues would plummet, as would apparel and food sales. I’m not arguing blacks should stick to basketball and whites to the conference rooms. I’m simply questioning, at what point does the pursuit of diversity overshadow and subordinate excellence?
Nevertheless, Washington promotes affirmative action. According to the Wall Street Journal, African‐Americans comprise 17 percent of the federal government’s workforce, while they are roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population. Why, then, has Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13583, which promotes “Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce”? Blacks serve on our courts, including the highest court in our land. Blacks are also mayors of major American cities. Our U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, is a black American. Furthermore, so is our Commander in Chief. His inauguration unequivocally proves racism isn’t the issue that it once was. Marcus Garvey, a dedicated proponent of the Black Nationalism movement, shares my same sentiments. As does Bill Cosby, who doesn’t blame racist cops or judges, but parental neglect in the impoverished black community, as the primary reason for sustained poverty and incarceration rates. Even Justice Clarence Thomas concludes that it’s harmful to the black community.
Ultimately, it was Milton Freedman who stated, “Freedom to compete fairly for university admissions, jobs and contracts is central to all that America professes to be.” Furthermore, Martin Luther King Jr. dreamt that his children would be judged one day “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Well, what’s affirmative action? It’s an initiative that judges people by the color of their skin, thereby negating our nation’s pursuit of a post‐racial Promised Land.
Alex Gushner is a fourth-year economics major.