Is affirmative action still needed?

The affirmative action debate is hardly over. In his article for Fox News Latino, attorney Raul Reyes notes that the Pew Research Center found 63 percent of Americans agree with affirmative action, while 30 percent still do not. Since becoming a law in 1965, there is still inequality in hiring, and maintaining women and minorities in the workplace, and colleges are today still fighting in courts whether race should be given priority in admissions processes. 

In the book “Minorities,” edited by Leone, Stalcup, Barbour and Williams, it was found that, when factors like education and performance reviews were held the same, African-Americans are dismissed more often from government jobs, and no one “knows why.”  In the text “Discrimination,” edited by Langwith, women frequently receive lower pay for the same job a man has been hired for, but the excuse given is “She didn’t negotiate a higher salary,” or “She came from a previous job with a lower salary, so she wasn’t started off higher.” 

How can we say the era of affirmative action is over? People often look at women in positions of high achievement, like President Barack Obama, or Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and say, if they could do it, anyone can. 

Look at the things people have said about the President, though. Critics have said he is loyal to Muslims because of his father’s heritage, and have said he is not loyal to America. If a white president had a father or grandfather from Germany, why don’t people say the president is loyal to Germany instead? Racism, and lack of tolerance leads people to say misaligned comments simply because they don’t like Obama’s policies or laws he has put in place. They attack his heritage, not his actual competence.

This leads to another topic-race and politics. Often, Presidential candidates reach out to minorities with promise of reform to policies which cater to minority groups. For instance, immigration law, or funding for low-income (often minority) school districts. In his book, “Not All Black and White,” Christopher Edley, Jr., discusses whether government should have such a broad scope in determining civil rights. This seems ironic, with voters picking candidates on issues that pertain to them, like Gay Marriage. Of course, this article is not about the civil rights about marriage law, but it would be amiss to discuss that the gay community faces discrimination in the workplace and in housing as well. When should the government step in and ensure rights for all?

On another note, women are poorly represented in fields of engineering or physics. Although this could be from socialization, where girls are told to go into fields like education or nursing, why are women not being actively recruited to go into science fields? As a former teacher, this author learned in college that boys are preferred when they raise their hands to contribute, while girls take a backseat. If this is how people treat children when they are learning, why would girls think they can make strides in male dominated fields?

Without going into a diatribe about the woes of inequality, it is easy to see that minority groups still have trouble breaking even. Affirmative action should not be banned, because there is still much work to do to create a society in America that gives everyone a fair chance.