Recently, reports have emerged that the United States Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions will target and perhaps attack affirmative action policies at colleges and universities. Such reports have reawakened the conflict between those who support the need for continued affirmative action plans to address racism past and present and those who argue that affirmative action is no longer needed and, indeed, serve to create preferences for those of one racial or ethnic group over another.
We do not deign to speak for the whole of the Multiracial Community on this topic. There are, no doubt, those within the Community who fall on either side of the debate, and we understand that reasonable and informed people can reach different conclusions.
We would point out, however, that there is an argument in favor of affirmative action that often is overlooked. In so many instances, the discussion about affirmative action is about redressing past injustice faced by members of a particular racial or ethnic group by implementing college admissions policies that seek to break down the barriers that the members of the racial or ethnic group were prevented from surmounting in the past due to overtly racialized and racist policies. The notion being, of course, that past racism, prejudice and discrimination prevented members of the racial or ethnic group from getting into college, so now the colleges should adopt policies that affirmatively help pave the way for these same groups of people to obtain the higher education that they previously were barred from. And, the argument goes, increasing the number of people who attain higher education is good for everyone, and especially so for those groups who have been barred, institutionally, from receiving higher education.
But, there is another argument as well. Simply put it’s this: not only does affirmative action help members of an ethnic or racial group overcome institutionalized bias, affirmative action also helps by increasing the diversity and diversity of voices in institutions. And, time after time after time, it has been shown that diversity creates strength by forcing people to broaden their horizons, deeper their understanding, and increasing their level of empathy. This in turn leads to greater harmony and greater creativity – a population that is filled with empathetic peoples is one marked by cooperation and people coming together to forge solutions rather than spending their time infighting.
So, yes, people can fashion arguments against affirmative action. But, it seems to us that there still are many, many, many more arguments in favor that inure to the benefit of all.
What do you think?