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An Inequitable Process to Produce An Equitable Society

As a result of years of segregation, discrimination, and injustice, America


has forever been plagued with unequal economic opportunity. Yet,
Affirmative Action, passed by Executive Order 10925 by President John F.
Kennedy in 1961, would soon become a catalyst for the degradation of this
inequity. Race-based Affirmative Action in college admissions strips
educational opportunity from qualified white applicants and grants that to
equally qualified black applicants. This inequity, however, allows whites and
blacks to broaden their perspectives and produces an equitable society,
diminishing economic disparities between blacks and whites.
Race-based Affirmative Action grants black applicants an added advantage-taking away opportunity from equally qualified white applicants--by
considering not only applicants individual accolades but also the color of
their skin. Although critiqued based upon constitutional law, social
psychology, and expertise, Affirmative Action must be considered against
American history (Bollinger). Affirmative Action serves as a means to grant
those blacks with historical disadvantages a leg up in the college
admissions process (Levine). In fact, Supreme Court Justices agree that
when highly individualized with race considerations, Affirmative Action is
a compelling interest of the United States, as it is necessary that the
path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of
every race and ethnicity (Supreme Court Rulings on Michigan Action
Cases). Hence, the consideration of race along with other merits serves as
the true testament to ensure that qualified blacks retain the ability to
ascertain a higher education and therefore assume leadership positions in
this world. Yet, it is important to realize that the capacity of an individual is
not holistically demonstrated by his merits, for merits simply demonstrate
how well one has played the hand life has dealt him (Michaelson).
Because [minorities] have lost opportunities as a result of past prejudice
and racism, many black students do not have substantial resources, so they
often produce unimpressive resumes (Affirmative Action). This reveals that
the idea of qualification is, in fact, not necessarily a tangible calculation of
merits. It is, however, dictated by a black applicants intangible commitment
to education. Hence, Affirmative Action serves as the means to grant black
students--with the capacity to succeed as demonstrated through their
individual attributes, not their resume virtues--the opportunity--often
awarded to privileged white students who have demonstrated their
qualification with extensive resumes--to control their lives and manifest
their maximum potential by means of a higher education.
This policy in collegiate institutions engenders diversity and thereby grants
renewed educational opportunity to not only black students but also to
white students. Some opponents to race-based Affirmative Action argue that
diversity in classrooms truly has no impact: What unique perspective does

a black student bring to a physics class? (Affirmative Action). These critics


fail to realize however that a given black student--from an educational
background contrary to that of many privileged whites--can bring a different
type of comprehension--a different style of learning; this in turn can aid the
academic development of fellow white students in a classroom, allowing
them to understand a physics problem in a nuanced way (Sax). In a study
to test the effectiveness of diverse classrooms, results show that students
were 50% more accurate when in diverse company (Levine). This reveals
that diverse academic environment allows students of different races to
learn from each other, acquiring new ways to critically think and problem
solve (Steinberg). Still, critics highlight that heterogeneous campuses can
lend themselves to homogenous islands, becoming segregated based on
race and failing to achieve the goal of diversity (Bruni). However,
classrooms rich with racial diversity are like a breath of fresh air, as they
benefit all who experience them (Levine). These classrooms force black and
white students to engage in cognitive friction: defending their perspectives
while listening to and learning from that of others (Levine). Hence, diverse
classrooms force students to recognize the possible validity of a perspective
they may not have deemed as such before. In turn, students rid of their
ingrained assumptions about certain races and broaden their frame of
reference, producing insightful citizens rather than insolent bigots. Initially,
in a heterogeneous environment, people will naturally flock to those similar
to themselves; yet diverse classrooms grant black and white students the
opportunity to build consensus with individuals from different
backgrounds, translating the forced heterogeneity in the classroom to
natural heterogeneity beyond the classroom. Thus, race-based Affirmative
Action is necessary to engender raw diversity in higher education, granting
whites and blacks the equal opportunity to veer from groupthink and racial
prejudgments by learning nuanced perspectives different from their own
(Business, Lawmakers Show Support for Affirmative Action in College
Admissions).
Finally, Even though race-based Affirmative Action puts qualified white
applicants at a disadvantage and grants privilege to equally qualified
black applicants, this inequity is necessary to produce an economically
equitable society. Affirmative Action seeks to rectify past discrimination, yet
the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating
on the basis of race (Affirmative Action). Hence, if this policy discriminates
based upon race, opponents argue, it solely perpetuates the discrimination
and racism it tries to amend. Yet it is important to realize that from 1960
through the 1990s, over 30% of the black demographic was impoverished,
as a result of a limited economic opportunities (Who Is Poor?). Yet in 1995,
Supreme Court Justices contended that Affirmative Action was a temporary
solution, and that it would be perish in 20-25 years, for Affirmative Action,
which considers an entire race, becomes increasingly unjust as individual
African Americans regain their economic footing (Supreme Court Rulings on

Michigan Action Cases). Still in 2011--21 years later--the average income of


black households stands at 32,000 while the average for white households
stands at 55,000 (Distribution of Household Income by Race); black
unemployment runs at 13.6% while white unemployment is 6.4% (Desilver);
finally, 41.2% of people in black families still remain impoverished (Poverty).
Hence, granting blacks, who show an earnest for learning, an added
advantage over other white applicants is not an injustice at all, for black
america is still far behind white america. In a nation that promises equal
opportunity for all, Affirmative Action is necessary to provide qualified
blacks with the opportunity to achieve success for their race as a whole.
Statistics show that Affirmative Action has actually yielded a significant
increase in Bachelors Degrees earned by black people (Affirmative Action).
Thus, this policy is proponent for an equitable society, as Bachelor Degrees
enable one to obtain $14,000 more annually than someone who only has a
high school diploma (Gulbrandsen). In fact, since race-based Affirmative
Action was implemented in college admissions, the difference in poverty
between white and blacks has decreased by 20% (Who Is Poor?). Hence,
black applicants, who may not have extensive resumes but do have an
earnest commitment to education, must benefit from this policy to produce
a society where white and blacks retain a similar economic footing.
Affirmative Action at elite institutions is the opportunity that grants black
applicants--no matter their privilege--the opportunity to equal the economic
playing field by attaining individual success that reflects the success of
greater black community.
Race-based Affirmative Action defines an individual versus community
ethical tension in which the community must trump the individual. As of
2015, 27% of blacks in America were impoverished while 10% of whites in
America were impoverished (Community Needs and Readmissions).
Admitting an equally qualified black over a white person was and still is not
an injustice, as it helps broaden students perspectives and level an
economic playing field that has yet to be leveled; the admittance of one
black applicant--no matter how privilegedreflects a step towards an
insightful and equitable society.