Anyone who has grown up and received education in the United States is sure to have seen videos and stories of racism and apartheid, lynching and slavery, blacks and whites and the struggle for equality that is interwoven in America’s history. Many people have witnessed extreme racial inequality firsthand. We’d like to say that those days are over and racism isn’t a problem anymore; however, racism still exists all around us, though it’s subtle and systemic rather than overt as it used to be. Racism is cultural and policies like affirmative action are a necessary step toward equality. 

Affirmative action is a series of executive orders issued from 1961 to 1967 that were meant to enforce the nondiscrimination mandate of the Civil Rights Act. Affirmative action simply enforces that employers “not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color or national origin,” and “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color or national origin.”

Institutions of higher education use affirmative action in order to diversify the student body. The Associated Press reported on evidence submitted to the court in Fisher v. University of Texas reporting that states like Texas are more diverse now because of affirmative action measures. There seems to be a popular myth that universities have a racial quota to meet, but quotas are illegal and are not part of affirmative action policies.

Even with a diverse campus, many ethnic groups stick together and form cliques. Asians hang out with Asians, blacks hang out with blacks and Latinos hang out with Latinos. In May 2012, guest columnist Kenny Catlege said that multiculturalism is a failure precisely because “when diversity and multiculturalism are forced upon us, we self segregate.”

Sure, cliques happen on campus and in society in general as evidenced by all the different cultural groups and societies that have formed. Has anyone considered why individuals stay with other individuals of the same ethnicity? There’s a level of safety that staying with members of your group provides. No one questions you about your background or traditions. Everyone else in the group just gets it, so to speak. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. 

But we should also consider all the people who break the boundaries and don’t settle with the clique and move beyond their comfort zones to cross bridges and build relationships. Understanding and compassion for other ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds blossoms from relationships formed by people who have ventured beyond their cultural borders. 

This learning and understanding is what diversity movements are about and this is why policies like affirmative action are necessary. Diversity policies encourage and facilitate compassion and understanding for those who are willing to reach out. 

Catlege’s most poignant argument came at the end of his column in which he urged the university to “stop promoting diversity at our expense.”

Again, quotas are a myth and are against the law. Affirmative action is an absolutely necessary step toward diversity. What if a few — whites — had to sacrifice so that everyone — minorities — could have an equal opportunity at life? Here’s a scenario to demonstrate how society already caters to the dominant group — whites — and how it could shift itself to be all-inclusive rather than white-exclusive:

Computers and computer accessories are manufactured for right-handed people, the majority. Using a mouse is difficult for left-handed people, the minority. Scroll keys are on the wrong side of the keyboard, the mouse points in the wrong direction and in general, everything is positioned for the comfort of right-handed people. Righties don’t even consider the discomfort of lefties, but it’s guaranteed that lefties feel their exclusion every time they use a computer. 

Now imagine if computers and their accessories were manufactured for neutral-handedness. Righties would have to sacrifice devices manufactured exclusively for their comfort so that lefties could also enjoy comfort at the computer. But that sacrifice wouldn’t be felt by righties, though lefties would immediately notice an improvement in quality of life. 

Should anybody be judged by his or her skin? Of course not. But it’s hardly ever the case that things are how they should be. People are indeed judged by their skin or background or sex or any other factor and policies such as affirmative action and diversity training are a necessary step in the right direction. True equality will not come from rainbows and dreams, but will come from working hard toward establishing it across the nation. 

By Rachel Elmalawany


(7) comments

Common Sense
Common Sense

Or this nugget.

“It’s hard to see racism when you’re white.”

Common Sense
Common Sense

How's this for diversity. Just read this today.


I completely disagree. Now I also don't live in Texas so I can't speak for your state but I can speak for mine.

Affirmative Action, present day, is reserve racism. We do not have issues with Race, Sexuality, Gender, and Age here in my State. We are a very diverse place and I've worked with all kinds of ethnicities, cultures, ages, etc. People are also far more Politically Correct (more than even necessary) these days in comparison.

Racism began because people made a big-deal about the color of someone's skin or either ethnicity. Affirmation Action is making a big deal about someone's background/color of their skin/ethnicity/gender... it fixes nothing. It gives these minorities a handicap as if they have some kind of disability - as if they are some kind of endangered species. That is wrong! We are never going to move forward nor past the issue until everyone is truly treated equally - and that doesn't mean everyone gets the same life/results.

The entire nation is falling apart because we are far too concerned about so-called new-age equality. It's getting obnoxious. Life naturally is a competition. It's been that way since we traded crops and meats with one another to survive. If you are the best you deserve the best, if you are mediocre you deserve mediocre. People need motivation to not fail; and the only way to do that is force them to try - and try hard.

As far as being a Left handed person, everything being right handed made me very ambidextrous. It's made me stronger. I think I have one up on everyone now.

The world doesn't need to be tailored to fit everyone. Life is about diversity and each human has things they are good at and things they aren't good at. And everyone in their own right is "successful" in some area of life if they work to their full potential. We need to stop trying to compulsively preserve life, save every soul, make life easier on every person.... let's all just live. There are some who succeed. Some who struggle. Some in the middle. And that's just life!

You are right. Racism is all around us. It's called Affirmative Action.

Equal Opportunity is called Standardized Testing. Not that I'm a huge fan of standardized testing.... but equal opportunity means everyone is given a chance. All children are allowed to take the SATs to get into college. All children are allowed to apply to schools. And if they weren't the best they shouldn't be picked based on the color of their skin, that is racism.

I am just in complete disagreement with this. And I'm sorry if that's not the case in Texas. But I think each state should be handled differently.

Common Sense
Common Sense

My fiancé is in the same position regarding being ambidextrous. She is a lefty too!

It very much is the case in Texas. I've actually been experimenting with this problem for a while. I make two applications for loans and magically the one in which I claim to be black on always gets through…. It’s amazing really. Then I'm told it doesn't exist.

Country Boy
Country Boy

I miss the time when the opinion column was used for more than just baseless rants.

Common Sense
Common Sense

Your ametaphor is retarded. You give no context on how being racist against whites even remotely compares to your computer metaphor.

Just to prove how retarded it is, I will take your exact argument and sub in "white and black" for "left and right" and "life" instead of "computer".

"Life is manufactured for white people, the majority. Living is difficult black people, the minority. [removed because there is no equivalent], everything is positioned for the comfort of white people. Whities don’t even consider the discomfort of blackies, but it’s guaranteed that blackies feel their exclusion every time they try and live life.

Now imagine if life was manufactured for mexicans. Whities would have to sacrifice their life manufactured exclusively for their comfort so that blackies could also enjoy comfort in life. But that sacrifice wouldn’t be felt by whities, though blackies would immediately notice an improvement in quality of life."

Let's also just completely forget the fact that you can change mouse settings to accommodate a left positioned mouse. Further, there does exist left handed computer peripherals. Also, if you don’t like the selection then guess what, a business opportunity is waiting for you go make a million. (You're welcome. No charge.)

You allude that everything is made for white people, yet you offer no examples. You allude that the world is made so that whites are the only ones considered regarding comfort, yet you offer no examples. You allude that the world caters to the whims of whites, yet you offer no examples. You allude that whites get everything they desire and are placed on a pedestal, yet you offer no examples.

Not once has the color of my skin gotten me further in life. In fact, because of people like you, it has actually been a burden. Oh but I see…. It’s just reparations and racism against whites doesn’t exist…. I deserve to have my “comforts” taken from me because it should be given to someone of a minority for their comfort. And then you argue that the “sacrifice” wouldn’t be felt by “whites/me”?.... Really? GTFOH.

BTW- look up (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 US 244 – Supreme Court 2003) where the supreme court said that Uni's could use race as a factor in who to extend offers to.. Just because "quotas" are illegal doesn't mean institutions don't use them, you know like Cops don't have monthly quotas on tickets they issue either.... everyone knows that.... shhhhhh...


Sorry, but the discussion in this column bears little relationship to reality, in terms of either the law or policy. The use of racial preferences in university admissions, for example, has nothing to do with "executive orders," and the notion that racial discrimination is justified by a few more interracial conversations -- the rationale colleges now use -- is ludicrous. See this column:

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