Letter to the editor: response to “Racing to the past”

A concurring opinion on the affirmative action policy

Dear Editor,

In your recent publication, Aayush Singh covered the upcoming Fisher case and talked about affirmative action.

I agree with Mr. Singh’s opinion in full. In addition, I would like to further explain why affirmative action is fatally flawed.

Affirmative action has not worked and will not work by any measure for a very simple reason. Race is a characteristic, not an achievement. Perhaps the fundamental difficulty in using race to give a “plus factor” to a certain applicant is that race fails to correlate with any means of superiority or achievement. I hold, fundamentally, that a black, an Asian, a Native American, a Hispanic, and a Caucasian all have the same potentiality to succeed and self-actualize. They all have the same level of intelligence and character, and the same potential for merit. One who argues otherwise embodies the highest ideals of racism, bigotry, and ignorance.

An applicant should be evaluated on achievements, not characteristics. Any deviation from this standard puts us back into the era of Jim Crow, and institutionalizes racism. This has no place in the 21st century.

Some say racism was used to “remedy past wrongs.” They point to an achievement gap among races as evidence. The trouble with this argument is that the ones with fire-hoses, dogs, and white tanks in Birmingham in the 1960’s are not the ones applying to colleges right now. Additionally, Asian-Americans, who are among those suffering from affirmative action the most, have also been “historically” discriminated against. Treating people differently based on the color of their skin guarantees an achievement gap.

Once the “historical remedy” argument was busted, supporters of affirmative action argued that it is used to promote “diversity.” However, even they are aware that by any measure affirmative action, even in that sense, as failed. African-Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented in higher education and the job market. But the way to solve a racial problem isn’t more racism. Instead, I would like to propose an alternative solution.

To counter under-representation, we should embrace the idea of devolution – transferring money and power back to the educators in the states, without strings attached. It is ignorant for Washington bureaucrats to believe that they know better – that they know more about education than the teacher who wakes up at 6 AM to grade papers, and who stays until 6 PM to help the struggling student. Education should best be left to the educators. When federal grants-in-aid are available, I agree with Mr. Singh in that they should be unconditionally targeted to low-income areas.

To my peers: wake up. Do not think that systemic racism is something reliced to the history books, the documentaries, and the occasional movie. This is happening today, and may affect your life. So the next time you hear somebody saying: “Affirmative action is good”, make sure to differ.

-Anonymous Student