MY STAND ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION Essay

This essay has a total of 2771 words and 14 pages.


MY STAND ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION





DiLorenzo 2
Nick DiLorenzo
Professor William Clyburn

CROSS CULTURAL COMUNICATION

11 May, 2000


MY STAND ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

When I began to collect research for my term paper, I was sure what to focus on. Every
time I visited a medical facility, I noticed a color line separating the health care
professionals. It seemed apparent to me that the majority of orderlies were African
American and the majority of the doctors and nurses were Caucasian. I believed this was
the case because of prejudice in the human resource department. I felt, especially here
in Sarasota a very segregated community, that African Americans were not getting the same
opportunities as their Caucasian counter parts. With this thought in mind, I proceeded to
interview the director of a local mental health facility. With a pen and pad of paper in
hand I proceeded to probe the inner most depths of this racially instigated problem. What
I found was equal hire for equal skills. According to this head of staff, it did not
matter if the candidate was black, white, green or purple; the best person was hired for
the job. So why was it that so many of the lower educationally demanding positions was
filled by African Americans? That is when it hit me like a ton of lead. EDUCATION is the
essential factor in all of this. This revelation led to many other questions. For
instance, why do more whites


DiLorenzo 3
attend college than blacks? Why do more blacks that attend college drop out than whites?
Why do those blacks that finish college have lower grade point averages?

In the pages to follow I will attempt to explain why this situation is the way it is
today. I will attempt to walk in the shoes of the people who live with this mystery, the
black college student.

Over the past four decades, African American College students have been in the spotlight
more than any other American student has. This is because they are not just students any
longer but they are the governments attempting to make up for so many years of horrible
treatment spurned on by racial bias. The government has instituted programs such as
affirmative action, which allows minorities an equal chance to get a good education in
elite schools that they probable would not have the chance to attend. Nonetheless, the
national college drop out rate among blacks students in the 1990’s is 20 to 25
percent higher than whites. Among those that finish college, their grade point average is
two thirds lower than of whites. Why? One reason may be society itself. Do we
automatically lower are standards when it comes to black students. Too much coddling and
handholding in order to make ourselves feel better? Alternatively, does society not do
enough, neglecting them to the point of failure? On the other hand, is it the black
culture itself? Poor motivation, lack of family and community support, economic
deprivation. In recent years, society has come to view the middle class black family as
not being deprived because of race. Why should a son of a doctor be taken over a poor
truck drivers son simply because he

DiLorenzo 4
is black? This is a big question in the case of affirmative action. With all the
opportunities afforded the black student, why the low-test scores and the high drop out
rates.

Claude M.Steele, a professor at Stanford University, in his article Thin Ice
“Stereotype Threat” and Black College Students, describes the threat of being
viewed through the lens of a negative stereotype, or the fear of doing something that
would inadvertently confirm that stereotype as the main reason for below average results.
He goes on in his article to describe a verbal test given to both black and white students
measuring ability. The results were dramatically different favoring the white students.
His explanation is in matters of race we often assume that when a situation is objectively
the same for different groups, it is experienced the same way by each group. This might
especially seem true with standardized cognitive testing. However, for black students,
difficulty with the test makes the negative stereotype relevant as an interpretation of
their performance and of them. They know that right away they are perceived as having
limited ability. When groups are not stereotyped the way they do not experience the extra
intimidation. Something other than ability was involved and Steele feels it is the
negative stereotype threat.

However, what about motivation or maybe the black students skills were less than the white
students were? Steele then reasoned if the intimidation factor was lessened then the
results would be different. Again, they brought black and



DiLorenzo 5
white students together only this time the test was said to have no bearing on ability.
As if someone turned of William Cross’s anxiety spotlight the black students scores
rose to meet their white counterparts. This one simple instruction had a profound change
on the meaning of the situation. Steele contends with black students negative stenotypes
apply in many situations, even personal ones. Why did that person treat me that way? Why
did the white girl not return my telephone calls? Is it because of race or something else
about him? He cannot fully dismiss the question and this raises even deeper ones, such as
will his race be a boundary to his college experience, to his emotions, to his
relationships, to his life? With time the black student may weary of the extra vigilance
theses situations require and of what the psychologists in the same article, Jennifer
Crocker and Brenda major have called “attritional ambiguity” of being on the
receiving end of negative stereotypes. To reduce this stress he may learn to care less
about the situations and activities that bring it about-to realign his self-regard so that
it no longer depends on how he does in the situation. We have called psychic adjustment
“misidentification”. Pain is lessened by ceased to identity with the part of
life in which the pain occurs. This withdrawal of psychic investment may be supported by
other members of the stereotype-threatened group to the point of its becoming a group
norm. Nevertheless, not caring can mean not being motivated, and this can have a negative
affect on school life,

disidenification is a high price to pay for psychic comfort. Some refuse to pay it


DiLorenzo 6
and just quit.
A second reason I believe falls mainly on the affirmative action movement. Affirmative
action today is very different from what it was supposed to be when it was instituted over
thirty years ago. In a world, so racially divided affirmative action was to desegregate
schools by giving minorities a chance to attend and receive a good education. In this
sense, it sounds like a good idea. Giving minorities an opportunity they would not have
received under other circumstances, I am all for that. Nevertheless, this is not what it
is today. In the article, The Colin Powell Test. Written by Meg Greenfield, she explains
what has happened to the dream. She explains, “Roughly three decades of
interpretation and subsequent implementation, by no means internally constant, has left
the landscape strewn with policy and person decisions taken in the name of
“affirmative action” that can be used anecdotally to prove any point you
want.” Instead of affirmative action being a tool used to give minorities a chance
it is something used to fill quotas, to fill a certain amount of seats with a certain
mount of minorities. This is so near sided because in its attempt to provide minorities
with an education they have not taken into account one huge factor, QUALIFICATIONS. Leave
it to our society to make a good idea a bad one. Now a young black student can work his
or her butt off in school and do all that they can to make sure they have a chance for a
good education, only to be denied entrance into the school of their chose because the
first fifteen seats had to be



DiLorenzo 7
filled by minorities and by god they were. Affirmative action is about equal rights and
equal opportunity not preferential treatment. Take the court case of Sarah Wessman a
fifteen-year-old who had been denied admission to the prestigious Boston Latin school, one
of Boston’s top public schools, because she was white. In the article, Does
“Diversity Justify Quotas? The Courts Say No, by Terence J. Pell, Boston Latin had
used a complicated admissions plan, developed in 1996 with the help of outside consultants
and civil rights lawyers. The school fills its first forty-five seats without regard to
race, evaluating applicants based on an exam score and grades. However, its remaining 45
seats are allocated according to a quota based on ethnic composition of the applicant
pool. The year Sarah applied, the allocation was thirteen blacks, eighteen whites, nine
Asians and five Hispanics. According to the article “the Boston Latin quota aimed
to comply with the late Lewis Powell’s opinion in the landmark case of Regents of
the University of California vs. Bakke. Powell had suggested that “intellectual
diversity” was an acceptable rational for considering race in admissions, though
“racial diversity” was not. Diversity is not a justification for the use of
racial preferences. As long as the school has a certain amount of blacks, everything
should be all right. Nevertheless, is it all right? Not when you have worked so hard
your whole life to fulfill your dream to pursue your goals and it is snatched away from
you because of a racial quota. Preferences no matter how well intended will breed
resentment. Define affirmative action, I mean if it means a program that provides equal
Continues for 7 more pages >>




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