Say What, Isaac Newton?
Isaac Newton’s third law of motion states, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” While this is a law of motion, it applies to almost everything else as well. The Civil Rights movement during the late 1950’s demanded action from the government. Those participating in the movement made it clear that if the government did not intervene on the injustices minorities were faced with, they would take matters into their own hands. The United States required a fast acting, strong program to help with this matter. The result was Executive Order 10925 which promised “affirmative action” would take place to ensure equality in places of employment and higher education.
The point in history that affirmative action was signed into existence, which came as a result of the racial tension of the late fifties, helped spawn a revolution. The Civil Rights Movement exploded, because now the government had stepped in.
So many years of affirmative action saw the increase in minority acceptance nation-wide. The government mandate to look closer at race in order to achieve greater diversity, caused establishments to become cognizant of every person’s race that applied for a position. Unfortunately, even though the United States is a far more progressive nation than it was in the 50’s and 60’s, the affirmative action policies remain in most states.
People who understand the law Isaac Newton produced, in a social situation (or any situation for that matter), will many times attempt to act on a prediction of the possible outcome. Unfortunately, society can be unpredictable, and that was the phenomena witnessed here in the United States. The action taken was affirmative action. It was required to be strong to combat the intensity of the national racial tension. However, the policies were “too affirmative,” and the reaction now has swung in the opposite direction in which now the majority is being discriminated against. The policy makers “over shot” their mark. A simple comparison to this failure can be made with a boat sailed by a captain. If the distance to be traveled is far, the captain will be inclined to use more throttle. As the boat approaches its destination, it must throttle back in order to stop at the intended destination. If, however, the captain does not throttle back enough or at all, he will then miss his intended target and be forced to move in the opposite direction.
For affirmative action, the captain of course is the government, the distance to be traveled is the time societal corrections will take, and the destination is eventual UNFORCED equality and diversity. The government never took the essential steps in throttling back to arrive at the final destination. Instead, the destination was passed, and as a result the country must work in a backwards direction to correct it.
An obvious question to be asked is “whether the affirmative action policy makers intended to ever throttle back on affirmative action?” The obvious answer is yes, because they knew how extreme the policies were, which is made clear by the title, AFFIRMATIVE action. The next question is then, “If the government planned to throttle back, than why have they not?” Again, this answer is simple. The process has begun, however it is too late to hit that initial destination is the shortest time possible. Now the United States is moving in the reverse direction.
In California along with a few other states, courts abolished affirmative action in the admission processes of state colleges. According to an article by The Associated Press, found in the New York Times, a federal appeals court upheld this decision after many tried having the ruling reversed (Associated Press). This is significant because it proves that the government is now agreeing with the fact that affirmative action has done too much. In the years to come, it will not be uncommon to continue to hear about states abolishing affirmative action.
Of course diversity will still be an important aspect to society, and those who believe affirmative action is the only way to achieve this diversity are wrong. States in which affirmative action has seen its last days are using different programs to promote diversity, but not discriminate against those of the majority. Richard Perez-Pena provides a prime example of this in California, where “holistic reviews” are being used instead of racial quotas. Instead of lumping all minorities into the same category, each individual is assessed with regard to challenges they have been confronted with and over come (Perez-Pena). This allows the underprivileged access to necessary aid, while those coming from “better” backgrounds are left to represent themselves. Since implementation of this system, numbers of people from certain races have been seen to stabilize in colleges at what they were during affirmative action. This is the alternative to affirmative action offered to Dr. Bridget Terry Long who wrote, “the alternatives to affirmative action are unable to adequately address the impediments of college access for students of color.” (Long)
Another possible alternative that can be used to correct the “over action” of affirmative action is the model used by the French. Danielle Ledford writes how instead of being based on race, France uses economic class to determine who needs assistance (Ledford). An argument against this in the United States is that many minorities are found to be impoverished, so there is no point in implementing a program like this, because they are covered by the current program. But what about impoverished caucasians? What kind of assistance do they receive? The answer is that they are denied the same assistance members of the minority receive. Therefore, using the economic based system would benefit impoverished minorities and caucasians, ultimately avoiding the concept of reverse discrimination altogether.
To summarize, the birth of the Civil Rights Movement caused affirmative action to be created. However, as a result of not “throttling back” on affirmative action, the policies have traveled too far and now cause reverse discrimination. As more citizens in the country recognize it is now time to move in reverse, the policies of affirmative action will continue to be replaced with less extreme, yet diversity promoting ones.
NEW SOURCE: “California: Affirmative Action Ban Upheld.” The appeal of the ruling to ban affirmative action from public schools is denied. The Associated Press. The New York Times, 3 Apr. 2012. Web. 5 Apr. 2012.
NEW SOURCE: Ledford, Danielle. “Is Race Neutrality A Fallacy? A Comparison Of The U.S. And French Models Of Affirmative Action In Higher Education.“Texas International Law Journal 46.2 (2011): 355-378. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Apr. 2012.
NEW SOURCE: Long, Bridget Terry. “Diversity By Any Other Name: Are There Viable Alternatives To Affirmative Action In Higher Education?.” Western Journal Of Black Studies 27.1 (2003): 30-34. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Apr. 2012.
Perez-Pena, Richard. “To Enroll More Minority Students, Colleges Work Around the Courts.“ Nytime.com. The New York Times, 1 Apr. 2012. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.