COLUMN: Distinguishing races still means racism

Leslie Arntz

More than 40 years have come and gone since the enactment of affirmative action polices began. More than 40 years later, our nation is still struggling with issues of race. Problems with race have grown and evolved because the issue of race is continually highlighted.

The emphasis never left the arena of separating groups by skin color. The scenario is the same: this group of people gets treated differently because of the way it looks. The only difference is that the treatment being doled out is preferential instead of detrimental.

Discrimination based on color, race, religion or origins was to be eradicated. Instead, things were flipped around. The lines are still being drawn. Could taking a system of injustice and simply turning the tables ever hope to heal the rift between minorities and mainstream America? It creates animosity with a reason rather than simple unfounded racism.

Wrong stacked upon wrong leaves nothing that resembles what is right: only a big heaping pile of wrongness. Denying purple people opportunities they deserve in preference for greens is equally as wrong as denying green people opportunities they deserve in preference for purples. It should not be a matter of color.

White, middle-class Americans are not the only group to believe that affirmative action measures are intrinsically misguided. Members of minorities want to succeed by their own merits. A girl doesn’t want to wonder if she was accepted into a university because of satisfactory tests scores or the fact that her mother is Malaysian and her dad is African-American and some old white guy behind a desk decided it was important to enhance the “diversity” of his school.

Limiting diversity to differences in skin tone is perpetuating stereotypes. True variety is found in a person’s background, attitudes, beliefs or unusual characteristics. While all these may be related to race, they should not be limited by it.

Some see affirmative action as stripping their ability to achieve something through their own hard work and aptitudes. And they don’t wish any achievement at the expense of someone else who has worked harder for it.

Denying a position to Qualified Person A in exchange for Less-Qualified Person B is wrong – whether it be based on levels of melanin or not.

When passed, affirmative action was a huge step in the right direction in the eyes of many. Laws demanded businesses and universities change their policies to include groups they may or may not have been ignoring or rejecting. The intentions were right, but often the results were flawed. Things became complex such as in the case of Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education (1986). “Minority” teachers were retained while “non-minority” teachers with seniority were laid off. The system needs to be changed.

Sweeping legislation handed down by the government is being used as a remedy for the evil in men’s hearts. It hasn’t worked. Racism abounds. Trying to fix racism of the past with more racism to look forward to in the future surprisingly does not add up to equality.

If we are striving for a color-blind society, it will never happen as long as the desired diversity is measured by the outside of a person.

Leslie Arntz is a sophomore magazine journalism major and a point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].