Affirmative Action

Eva Deguara-Pagan



Affirmative action is a pretty tricky topic to discuss because there are so many complicated ways to answer the question of whether or not we should actually be using it. Unfortunately, my stance on this situation is just as complicated as everyone else’s, and though many will disagree, my stance on this topic is that in certain instances, affirmative action is okay, but if we can avoid it we should. One of the reasons that I firmly believe in my opinion is the fact that we can formulate many less harmful valid solutions that can better assist each unique individual applying to a college. A reason for affirmative action being necessary in select circumstances is that in some areas, students of color actually don’t get a fair chance, whereas in predominantly white areas, affirmative action might be the only option. However, affirmative action is also psychologically quite damaging on students who end up feeling like their race is the only reason that they were seen as worthy of a college. Obviously, more explanation and evidence is needed to help you see why I view this conflict the way that I do, but I have full confidence that eventually, you'll understand why affirmative action truly should only be used when necessary.

My first reason to support my thesis is the fact that there are so many other reasonable solutions that work better to suit the factors that’ll benefit both college students and the colleges. A good way to start off my argument would probably be with the quote from the 1st wordgen packet, “More privileged students might have advantages, such as access to better schools. They may have access to better tutoring, support…”. You might not see yet how this relates to my argument, but this quote displays to me that financial stability is fairly important to a student’s overall chances to get into a college. Minority households are typically lower income then the average white household, but in this day and age when people are starting to be looked at equally, statistics are changing little by little, and there are obvious exceptions. It seems apparent to me that colleges should be looking at household income as opposed to race as a factor for admissions, because there are wealthy hispanic households with children who have access to amazing learning resources, and white families who aren’t as lucky, and vice versa. We can't stake all assumptions of a person’s college readiness on their race, because that's quite frankly ignorant of people's circumstances. Another piece of evidence supporting alternate admission methods isn't actually a quote, but just a general fact that I couldn't find a quote to support. This fact is, affirmative action shouldn't be necessary in diverse places like NYC. If you take NYC as an example, you'll see that the percentage of minorities living here is far over 50% of the overall NYC population, meaning that the balance between races applying for college is probably fairly equal, meaning race should be less of a factor. Replacing race with household income would be helpful, because that way we will have a proper grasp of the resources given to each student, and then judge their grades on what matters based on the student. This would better suit the college’s and the student’s needs.

The diversity of an area has quite an impact on the overall effectiveness of affirmative action, and just like it is less necessary in notably diverse areas, it is incredibly impactful in less diverse areas, which is unfortunate because affirmative action truly does introduce some toxicity into the overall college process. I'll get into that later. For now, I think explaining the true significance of affirmative action in less diverse areas might be fairly important. What I said earlier about looking at household income is completely irrelevant in states with alarmingly low diversity, because the amount of white people just eliminates its impact. If we use Tennessee as an example, with a percentage of whites at a shocking 78.4 percent overall, eliminating affirmative action will mean an absurdly low number of people of color in Tennessee colleges, which will in turn lead to general issues within colleges. An article I found online called "The Importance Of Diversity In Education" states, “Studies have shown that having diverse classrooms help develop tolerance and a greater sense of security when in environments with other foreign cultures present.” In a state that has literally banned teaching about critical race theory in schools, lack of diversity within colleges could very well be fatal for combating prejudice within schools. Additionally, from Newsela affirmative action article 3, there's a quote that stuck out to me which states, “The school also showed that abandoning it’s process would lead to a sharp decline in diversity.” If we go back to the Tennessee scenario, we’ll see that if they actually abandoned affirmative action, the average college would probably have an essentially nonexistent black/hispanic population.

However, another incredibly negative aspect of affirmative action is the dent it makes on colored students’ confidence in their abilities. A quote from the wordgen article which is told from the perspective of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, stated that it made his Yale law degree “worth 15 cents”. He wrote, “I’d graduated from one of America's top law schools, but racial preference had robbed my achievement of it’s true value.” This is just one person’s perspective on the issue, but I have no doubt that thousands of other students felt exactly the same, because if I were to put myself in the shoes of any of these students, I would feel like a poster child. I would feel like someone accepted as a mere afterthought, and considering college is a massive experience, I would absolutely carry that shame with me for the rest of my life. Affirmative action is a sort of psychological torture in this way, because despite being intended for the exact opposite purpose, it undoubtedly makes people of color feel inferior in a thousand ways. To add on, a quote from another wordgen article states, “In an attempt to bring more equality and equal opportunity to underrepresented groups, affirmative action treats those groups differently, which isn’t technically “equal.” This truly shows how damaged this system is.

Ultimately, affirmative action seems to me like the easy way out for colleges but students deserve more than that, because nobody deserves to feel inferior to their peers for simply being born a certain race. Sadly, at times affirmative action must be put into action, but that's just life. You could argue that affirmative action is a truly helpful method, but I think all it takes to change your opinion on that is reading my essay. I urge you to assess the affirmative action policies in your state and ask yourself if it could be replaced with an alternative method.