Affirmative Action Response

Rob, the BusinessPundit, correctly states that the government should neither restrain nor aid the American people in their pursuits. (By the way, he used a quote from Thomas Jefferson, of all people, to make that point.) But he fails to even mention the centuries of free labor through slavery that helped to build this great nation. While I know there are flaws in the current affirmative action system, I haven’t heard a better proposal for fixing the centuries of discrimination & abuse against minorities. (I won’t even get into the stolen land and genocide.) Rob also makes a good point about some kids making poor choices. But we have to look a little deeper than the surface. If a people have been stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty, discrimination, poor education, and poor housing for centuries, can you really expect them to compete fairly with people who reaped the benefits of their free labor? (Many whites will say that their ancestors didn’t own slaves, etc. But society as a whole benefited from slavery. The wealth generated off of the backs of slaves trickled all throughout society.) Please remember that it was illegal to even educate Blacks in this country for centuries. And it’s only been 50 years (2 generations) since schools were desegregated by law (they still aren’t desegregated in practice). Rob offers up a solution to these problems – changing the culture of ‘inner city African Americans’. Well, for many of the reasons stated above, that’s easier said than done. Again, I know there are no easy answers to this issue, but don’t the government and the American people owe some kind of reparations for the centuries of past wrong-doing?

UPDATE: Idols of the Marketplace has also responded to Rob in his post entitled ‘Affirmative Action: Punching Bag for the Clueless‘ There’s also some good discussion going on at Brad DeLong’s blog, and at Truck and Barter.


  1. Rob,

    I just read that Business Week article that you linked. That article is definitely in-line with what I’m saying about the real issue is a class issue, not a race one. Maybe some day more people will see that distinction.

  2. Pingback: BusinessPundit
  3. This was just e-mialed to me:

    Mike, this is an interesting MSNBC article that highlights an exercise on privilege done in a Whiteness Studies class at UMass. Participants stand shoulder to shoulder on a “starting line”. The facilitator reads various statements, one at a time, and if the statement applies to you, you take
    a step forward. If it doesn’t apply to you, you take a step backward. An example of possible questions could be:

    I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
    I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
    Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

    (I took these questions from Peggy McIntosh’s paper: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Napsack .

    This speaks to the point about how whites want to claim that they or their families never held slaves and then make the leap that that fact holds them harmless relative to issues of race and racism.

    My position is to hold individual whites accountable for understanding how they derive privileges from their whiteness and how they exploit those privileges. I hold the United States government accountable for any reparations for the institution of slavery and its fallout. Enjoy the read!

  4. Well said Walter. This discourse is sorely needed. One of my favorite classes at Stanford was called ‘small group discussion’. And not just b/c it was an easy A. 🙂 All we did in that class was discuss race, gender, and class issues. It was amazing to see the disconnects between people over the smallest things. I hope that we can all learn a bit more about each other through these exchanges.

  5. Pingback: Move the Crowd
  6. The anti-merit character of affirmative action is bad for business and bad for society in general. It has to be that way; otherwise there is no advantage to be gained by using the affirmative action system. But this sets all these groups into conflict; therefore we should be anti-affirmative action, anti-quota system utilization, but pro-merit, pro-ability and the like. Otherwise, officials get to damage and even set off warfare to increase their power.

  7. So the ends justify the means eh? Just because white ancestors enslaved Africans you wanna get them back by making todays whites suffer for something that is utterly out of their control. I thought minorities would want to be better than the “evil” white man and get along without harming or ruining other’s dreams of school or employment. And just look at todays Hispanic population. I’ve seen hispanic men stand outside of a bathroom in a diner and after anyone comes in and out, they clean the bathroom. I asked one how much he was getting paid and he said $10 a DAY. If the minorities dont even want to use the law to make equality, why force schools and buissnesses do so? Cuss me out or give me your own ideas at my email address:
    Just what ever happend to equal oppertunity???

Comments are closed.