There is a lot of talk about affirmative action being so-called reverse discrimination these days; however, you should be wary if someone at your job or school begins making those claims regarding your hiring, promotion or admission. The person making the claim might be creating a hostile working or intellectual environment.
To help you better understand the purpose of affirmative action and why it is not necessarily reverse discrimination, following are some important points.
The Birth of Affirmative Action
President Lyndon Baines Johnson called for affirmative action in a 1965 commencement speech at Howard University. LBJ, as he was popularly known, believed that African Americans needed help in a post-segregated society after centuries of legalized discrimination.
Johnson used a metaphor about racing. To him, it seemed unfair to suddenly ask African Americans to start life at the same point as others while ignoring their history of unfair treatment. Consequently, the government set up policies to better include African Americans, women and others into mainstream society.
Affirmative Action Under Attack
It was not long before affirmative action came under attack. Most notably, Alan Bakke, a medical school applicant, sued after being denied admission while African Americans and Latinos received acceptances under affirmative action.
In 1978, the Supreme Court allowed Baake into a prestigious California medical school, claiming specific quotas for minorities unconstitutional, but also upholding the right of institutions to use race as one consideration for admissions. This principle still largely stands in theory.
The Reality Behind Affirmative Action and Reverse Discrimination
What those who claim reverse discrimination seem to misunderstand is that affirmative action is merely one of the many mechanisms used to dole out jobs, university admissions and promotions. In reality, affirmative action did not change the American meritocratic system. People still largely get ahead in life based on their abilities. Affirmative action just attempts to ensure that traditionally subordinated groups receive real inclusion.
For example, most universities require applicants to submit test scores, letters of recommendation and previous grades. Admissions committees use this information to admit the majority of students. Then, the committee members have a number of other categories, including affirmative action, in which to consider a smaller percentage of applications. Those claiming reverse discrimination usually ignore this litany of categories, merely highlighting affirmative action.
Get Help if Feeling Under Attack Over Affirmative Action
If you are attending a college or working a job, there may come times when someone attacks you for being an affirmative action case. They may claim that you benefited from reverse discrimination. These sorts of comments may, themselves, be acts of discrimination. The speaker may be creating a hostile environment to intimidate you.
When made to feel uncomfortable about affirmative action policies at your school or workplace, speak with a civil rights discrimination attorney from a firm like the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C. as soon as possible. This legal professional will be able to further explain the principles of affirmative action and work to halt any attempts to question your right to be on campus or at the job site.