Readers Write: Affirmative action is still needed in the US

Letters to the Editor for the November 19, 2012 weekly print issue: Affirmative action helps eliminate the ignorance of racial bigotry and animosity. It is needed as much today as it was in 1968. The notion that the races are fighting over a scarce number of places is a shallow argument.

Affirmative action is still needed

Regarding the Nov. 5 editorial, “A race lift for campuses”: When I read the question “Is official discrimination against white applicants justified if a state-run school finds a compelling interest for racial diversity in campus learning?,” I thought back to 1968 when my university was engaged in the program of affirmative action.

There was one upperclassman and a few athletes who were African-Americans. I don’t think any of us could have foreseen the day affirmative action would be called “discrimination against whites.” Back then, discrimination against minorities was overtly institutionalized. We’ve come a long way – or have we?

It’s essential to base arguments on correct premises. The need to integrate schools for racial diversity is education, just as much as foreign student exchanges and cultural immersion to learn a new culture or language is a part of education. The notion of scarcity of places available at universities, causing competition between the races, as the editorial argues, obscures and confuses the fundamental purpose of affirmative action. 

No one takes someone else’s place. Opportunity should be available to the broadest possible selection – whether we enter universities on affirmation action or through our parents’ alumni association. Why should a student who is accepted to a university because of a parent’s monetary gifts to the school be more important than a student entering on affirmative action? Affirmative action brings a different culture and new perspectives to a learning atmosphere.

We all gain something valuable by learning to think more broadly and inclusively. Multicultural exchanges help awaken moral and civil courage as well as the ability to think logically rather than emotionally. This can mitigate interracial conflict when those involved in the dialogue are truly educated – in the broadest sense of the word. All American students deserve that education. 

Affirmative action is thus a win-win situation that helps eliminate the ignorance of racial bigotry and animosity. It is needed as much today as it was in 1968. 

The notion that the races are fighting over a scarce number of places is a shallow argument.

Jackie Reid

Tujunga, Calif.

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