Ilias Janus '26
With the issue of affirmative action raging across the nation, I want to provide a perspective on its benefits in this article. Affirmative action is the consideration of race in the admissions process of schools, because certain minorities have faced many issues throughout our history, and they are disproportionately affected by wealth inequality and generational poverty. With black households having one-third of the wealth that white households have, they typically have fewer opportunities leading up to college. White students are also more likely to be legacy students, making it even easier for them to get into college. Additionally, on many campuses, people of color are underrepresented in the student body. There is another major problem: teachers tested for implicit bias usually have a prejudice against children of color, leading to harsher punishments for the same offenses and records that reflect worse behavior.
Affirmative action offers a possible solution to many of these problems, as people of color who graduate college are more likely to get higher-paying jobs than those who do not. There are also benefits to the student body at large. According to the Century Foundation, a diverse student body is less likely to have a racial bias and is instrumental in increasing self-confidence. Diversity, therefore, benefits students of all races. There is another group of thought that believes affirmative action does not promote merit, leading to a smaller incentive to work hard. However, affirmative action still promotes hard work and ability over other qualities. An additional possible problem is that affirmative action prioritizes some minority groups over others. While this needs to be addressed, the benefits of affirmative action far outweigh the disadvantages. While we’re on the right track, the fundamental problem of inequality is not yet solved. For example, even with affirmative action, blacks on average make thirty-thousand dollars less annually than their white counterparts. The whole purpose of affirmative action is to raise minorities' wealth, to a point where it is no longer needed. Some also argue that affirmative action can be a reparation for all of the generations that could not get a decent education. However, others counter that reparations lead to additional interracial tensions.
It is worth noting that affirmative action is by no means a new idea, but dates back to 1961, when President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925, requiring government contractors to “take affirmative action” to ensure employers are not treated or employed differently according to their race. Lyndon Johnson later built on this legislature, making workplaces create new job opportunities for minorities and, in 1971, for women. Affirmative action continued to be expanded, with a few hiccups over the next decades, until the early 2000s, when many voters demanded change, claiming that its purpose was complete. However, affirmative action remained in play until the Trump administration came into power. The Justice Department scrapped many programs and battled universities over the issue, leading us to the state of affirmative action today.
Today, affirmative action supports underprivileged kids to get into good schools, helping end countless years of poverty cycles. Although it favors several minorities, it still does lots of good throughout the community and helps to stop systemic racism. Although it should not last forever, it is necessary for now. As we wait for this issue to go before the Supreme Court, it is important for us to recognize that affirmative action can help heal many of the divisions in our society.