When J.R. Constable, A white male, was rejected from California State University at Fresno because of his race, he was outraged. “ ‘We can’t admit you, because we have too many white males enrolled in your major.’ ”said one of the schools counselors.
J.R.’s response was something that most African-Americans would sympathize with. He recounts the after-affects of the incident to Slate Magazine:
“I wish I could say that within a few weeks I got over it, but I still find myself once in a while having the thoughts that I missed a promotion because of my gender, or race. Or that because I’m white I don’t have as much potential, or ability. That I was being viewed as a failure. If life is supposed to be so much easier for me, why do I have to struggle so much?
Immediately after the incident, I was at the worst of my self-loathing, I was constantly hating myself for what I was, a white man. I hated myself for what I was becoming, a bigot. Race and gender went from being a non-issue, to being the only issue. I was crushed, and I dropped out of school. I settled in to the fact that because of something that happened to me at conception, that I had no control over, that is an insignificant part of the larger sum of me, I’d been doomed to being at the bottom.”
Then there was the case of Abigail Fisher, who sued the University of Texas after her application was rejected in 2008. Fisher claimed the individualized, discretionary admission policies violated her rights, and favored African-American and Hispanic applicants over whites and Asian-Americans.
Fisher’s case was brought before the Supreme Court last Wednesday (Fisher v University of Texas), on October 10, 2012. The decision of the 10 Supreme Court justices may very well decide the future of Affirmative Action in the United States.
A Brief History of Affirmative Action
In 1961, President Kennedy first used the term “affirmative action” as a means of correcting discrimination that persisted in spite of civil rights laws and constitutional guarantees. His Executive Order 10925 established the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and required government contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.”
President Johnson furthered the idea with the assertion that “We seek… not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.” His Executive Order 11246 set new, stricter guidelines for companies seeking government contracts, and that businesses maintain and furnish documentation of hiring and employment practices upon request.
White backlash was fast, furious, and persistent. Angry white males claimed that Affirmative Action was reverse racism , and used the case of Allan Bakke to attempt to destroy it. Bakke, a white male, had been rejected twice by a medical school in 1978 that had accepted less qualified minority applicants to fulfill Affirmative Action quotas. His case was heard before the Supreme Court which then outlawed inflexible quota systems in affirmative action programs, which in this case had unfairly discriminated against a white applicant.
In 1986, the Reagan administration (those bigoted bastards) opposed affirmative action requirements. The administration drafted an Executive Order that limits “quotas, goals, or other numerical objectives, or any scheme[,] device, or technique that discriminates against, or grants any preference to, any person on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Luckily, the draft was never issued as it faced bi-partisan opposition in Congress that threatened to counteract it by enacting Executive Order 11246 into law by a veto-proof majority.
A Taste of their Own Medicine
To me, Affirmative Action has given those who think their race entitles them to privilege a taste of their own medicine.
We know that the metal illness that is white supremacy is founded on a false belief of entitlement. The University of Texas allows students in the top 10% of their class automatic entry, and looks at other criteria, including race, for students with lower grades. Fisher’s grades were below the top 10% of her class, and thus she was denied the privilege of automatic entry. When she was forced to compete below the 10% – and with other minority applicants – she felt as if she had been denied some constitutional right. (According to The New York Daily News, Fisher’s lawyer, Bert Rein, told the court Fisher suffered “constitutional injury” because of her denial to the college of her first choice.
Its important to note that African-Americans in Texas as a whole represent 12% of the population, but comprise about 5% of students at the University of Texas.
It’s interesting… only white people think they are superior to other races. So, when they fall short of something they think they are entitled to – “because they are white and therefore other races can’t possibly be better” – they claim it is the minority who deprived them of that to which they are entitled.
But Is Affirmative Action Really Fair?
Blacks have a 375-year history on this continent: 245 involving slavery, 100 involving discrimination, and only 30 involving anything else. — Historian Roger Wilkins
If we as African-Americans are cheering on Affirmative Action and “doing onto the white man as they have done to us”, is that really fair. What does it benefit us to assume the same bigotry and nepotism that our former oppressors once used against us. I dare even ask would a system of Black supremacy be any more just than this current system of white supremacy?
The answer is no.
At our current stage of social evolution, any system that is built and supported should be based on the original values of collectivism, cooperation, common heritage, natural law, and contribution. Affirmative Action is not about the selection (or rejection) of any particular race over another – its about dismantling some of the last vestiges of white supremacy to move America towards a more fair and impartial society. There is no doubt that there are racist bigots in nearly every branch of government, and in nearly every sector and industry. Policies like Affirmative Action are barely capable of keeping these invisible menaces from infecting their organizations – but they help.
I would also argue that the number of people actually adversely affected by Affirmative Action is much smaller than the number of people who believe they were adversely affected by Affirmative Action. But without a doubt, Affirmative Action has helped a great many minority students who would never have had access to higher education or better career choices.
To destroy Affirmative Action is to give these bigots free reign. That, truly, would be a “constitutional injury”.