We Still Need Affirmative Action …

“You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: ‘now, you are free to go where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.’ You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe you have been completely fair . . . This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson, speaking to the graduating class at Harvard University, 04 June 1965

Affirmative Action: an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education.

A brief (I promise) bit of history:

On March 6, 1961 President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925, which included a provision that government contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” The intent of this executive order was to affirm the government’s commitment to equal opportunity for all qualified persons, and to take positive action to strengthen efforts to realize true equal opportunity for all. This executive order was superseded by Executive Order 11246 in 1965.

On September 24, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, and national origin by those organizations receiving federal contracts and subcontracts. In 1967, President Johnson amended the order to include sex on the list of attributes. Executive Order 11246 also requires federal contractors to take affirmative action to promote the full realization of equal opportunity for women and minorities.

African-Americans, at the time of Order #11246, had been legally freed from slavery for a short 100 years, but they had still not been free in so many ways.  Segregation and Jim Crow laws kept them slaves to the white man for nearly another century, at least in some parts of the country.  And now, Presidents Kennedy and Johnson were doing something about it.  Many will say the government should not regulate such things, and I would agree, with a caveat:  the government should not need to regulate such things.  But when we are unwilling to treat all people equally, when we discriminate on the basis of skin colour (or religion, gender, gender identification, ethnicity or cultural values), then yes, it is right and just for the government to legislate equal opportunity for all.  And thus we have what came to be known as Affirmative Action.

Which brings us to August 2017, when the Justice Department is planning to take funds that are intended to investigate cases of ‘race-based discrimination’ and redirect those funds to investigate and sue colleges that have followed the law of Affirmative Action in admissions determinations.  The project was quickly understood to be targeting affirmative action policies that many on the right see as “discriminating” against white applicants — in particular, ones that might give black and Latino students an edge.

If discrimination against whites actually existed on any significant scale, one might make that argument, but the reality is that wealth, not race, is most often the factor that influences admissions decisions.  Discrimination, overall, remains in this, the 21st century, against blacks, Jews, Muslims, gays, and women.

If we, as a society, do not wish to live under laws that give preferential treatment to one group or another, then the solution is simple:  treat everyone … EVERYONE … as equals.  STOP condoning the killing of blacks by police officers for no reason other than they were black.  STOP perpetuating the myth that blacks are more likely to be criminals.  And STOP believing that people whose skin is darker than yours, are somehow inferior.

Most laws need to be revisited, reassessed and tweeked from time to time, and Affirmative Action is no exception.  Certainly there have been abuses of the law. No doubt there are improvements that can be made, but I certainly do NOT trust the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions to do so.  The bottom line is that if we do not wish laws that enforce equality in hiring, in college admissions, in houring preference, then We The People need to get off our high horses and realize that people are people, no matter the colour of their skin, what church – if any – they attend, what country they or their ancestors come from, or whatever other characteristics they may own.  Until we do that, the government must uphold the laws that enforce equality.  Don’t like the laws?  Then police thyself, friends.

We have seen a recent rise in bigotry of all forms, and white supremacy seems to be gaining a toehold when crimes against blacks, even by police officers, go unpunished.  We have seen states attempt to pass laws limiting opportunities for LGBT people.  The president of the nation has thrown his lot in with white supremacists.  As long as this type of organized and state-sanctioned discrimination exists, we will need laws to protect those being discriminated against.  It’s that simple.

44 thoughts on “We Still Need Affirmative Action …

  1. I would add we should do away with the death penalty as many of those sentenced to it have been black and some later proven to have been innocent. The European Union put an end to it. It’s a medieval type of law and many mistakes are made wherein innocent people lose their lives. It sometimes depends on the ability of the accused to hire a good lawyer. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree 100%!!! I have long advocated abolishing the death penalty. It is barbarous and has no place in a civil society, no place among those with values. I took a semester-long class a few years back on wrongful convictions, conducted by the founders of The Innocence Project, and it was an eye-opener. So far, we have not executed a person who was later proven innocent, but it’s only a matter of time. And you are right … minorities are most often the ones whose lives are on the line, for two reasons: a) they are more likely to be arrested, convicted and sentenced due to racial injustice, and b) they are generally poorer and cannot afford quality legal representation.

      And isn’t it the ultimate oxymoron that the ‘conservative Christians’ who partly voted Trump into office on a single issue, abortion, are screaming loudly that to abort a fetus is murder and cannot be tolerated, yet they don’t blink an eye at the thought of executing a person. Double standard there? Oh yeah.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Can we? I begin to wonder when I consider that throughout the history of mankind, these traits and behaviours have existed. If we haven’t figured it out by now, I begin to hold little hope that we will in the next few thousand years, and frankly, we will probably destroy the human race before then, either with war or the greed of environmental destruction. That sounds rather gloom-and-doom-ish, doesn’t it? And really, I am an optimist, but … it’s rather like the person who keeps doing the exact same thing in the exact same way and hoping for a different outcome each time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Jill,
    DDT’s administration has been catering to White Supremacists in every possible way because these folks are very loyal to DDT.
    i dislike the AG Sessions because he espouses the values of white Supremacists, and yes, he along with DDT, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka are ALL racists/ anti-Muslims etc.
    In addition poor minority students do not have parents who can buy a spot at a prestigious college; nor do they have a legacy benefit because parents are grads of a prestigious college. .
    The right want to live in their alt-reality where racism no longer exists. They obviously don’t live in the real world.
    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I believe there are those who truly wish to live in a country where everyone looks, thinks and acts precisely the same. What a BORING world that would be!!! But, somehow the white supremacists seem to be afraid of anything that is different, and rather than try to learn about other people, other cultures, other belief-sets, they prefer, as did Hitler with the Jews, to simply eradicated those “others”. What a screwed up mindset they have!
      Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I honestly believe the only way minorities have a chance in this country is with affirmative action — despite the abuses (and I have seen my share). We must beware of reacting to the abuses by setting the clock back and denying the disadvantaged the few small steps they have been able to take in recent years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very well stated, Hugh! I struggled with the wording of this post, for I realize it is controversial, and while I don’t mind insulting a few racists, the fact is there have been abuses and I would not want to insult those who have been hurt by it. But you are right … perhaps it needs some tweaking, but let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Human nature being what it is, I do not foresee a time when society can be counted on to always do the right thing, thus we will always need such laws. Thanks for your astute comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As someone who tries to remember every day how fortunate I am to have been privileged all my life – white, middle class, Canadian, etc., I think the real shame of our world is that affirmative action is something that is still needed, as it obviously is when a bunch of rich, white men are trying to take it away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right … the shame is that we cannot remember that we are all of the same race, the HUMAN race, and we cannot treat people fairly, thus we require our government to do so. At the moment, our government is determined to undo as many laws as they can, and unfortunately without giving a thought or a care to the outcome. I suppose if you get down to it, I am prejudiced also, for I have an aversion to ‘fat, old, rich, ugly, obnoxious, lewd, white males who wear ugly toupees’! :/

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s always there Jill. You can go from country to country and you will find discrimination or antipathy between groups, some of it is fairly low key, almost not noticeable; in other cases not so much. This is a flaw in human nature and its is why governments should always work legislation into the mix to guard against.
    Anyone who complains about their rights being infringed or raising the false Spector of government interference is dodging the issue.
    Anyone who tries to raise some filth version of dignity by ‘claiming’ they have a right to discriminate is a criminal against society and a menace to stability.
    This abhorrence will always try and slither back and needs to be stamped upon plain and simple.
    It’s a pity for the USA that it does not in ,moral terms, have a president, merely someone who occupies the Whitehouse.
    Take care folks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Y’know, I have been trying to understand the mentality of racism … well, all my life, really, but especially in the last year or two, as it is seemingly more prevalent than ever in this country. But you may have hit the nail on the head when you said it is a ‘flaw in human nature’. But now, that leads me to two new questions: a) why does it affect only some people — children don’t appear to be born with racist tendencies, so i always thought to some extent, at least, it was an ‘acquired trait’, and b) does this mean it will always be with us, that no matter how much we talk, how much we educate, we will never be rid of bigotry?

      But to the point, yes, I believe we MUST have laws to ensure equality, equal opportunities for all, else we will surely revert to Jim Crow, and perhaps even a form of slavery again. And you are quite right, that we are a rudderless ship with naught but fools to lead us … quite possibly into an iceberg. And you know who will be the first ones on the lifeboats … Trumpty-Dumpty and Company! Fine by me … I shall go to the bottom of the sea and live with the fishies … perhaps even become a mermaid! Bah Humbug!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Racism covers in all forms, shapes and sizes. We all tend to think it’s the preserve of moronic section of Caucasian races, but you go looking across the World News pages of, say The BBC and you’ll find it in each nation. No nation should play the hard-done-by card, none of our histories bear examination, irrespective of colour, religion and so forth.
        I believe it is a flaw bred of ignorance, inadequacy and in some cases just plain ‘filth’ (I wonder how they’d feel about that label? It’s my own) and worked on by the vile sections of politics and society. This is why we need laws, stern, I would suggest draconian laws- annnddd this is where I go authoritarian socialist (sound of allegorical brakes slamming, and deep calming breaths).
        It does seep in where you’d least expect it; I have my own little demons in that direction which I keep to myself, generally locked up and in a dark corner.
        But in conclusion I am sure you’d make a very fetching mermaid, sitting there on rocks, combing your hair, singing, then slipping into the seas to drill wholes in those lifeboats you were mentioning 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ahhhhh …. now you have brought me some peace of mind … the thought of being a mermaid, playing with the lovely fishies, and then … drilling holes in the lifeboats carrying the riff-raff!!! Many holes … HUGE holes … BWAH HAHA! Oh my … now I know it is time for bed, for I actually laughed that evil laugh aloud! 😀 😀 😀

          On a serious note, though … as you know, many things about this “not-so-brave new world” disturb me greatly, but none quite so much as the bigotry, the hatred, the racism … the hate crimes … I have too many friends who are affected on a near-daily basis by it … and it … breaks my heart … makes me want to try to understand, yet makes me want to scream and stomp people’s heads. I tell you, this is not a world I understand, not one I recognize. I want to change it … but how? People are broken. It’s not just here in the U.S., but in many other places too … people are just simply broken.

          And yes, we all have our demons, Roger. We all have thoughts sometimes we may not be proud of. But you are a good man … I know this to be true. A good friend, and one whom I appreciate.

          Wacky Races … coming up next!!! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you Jill for your last words, I will hold them as precious.
            I won’t keep you from sleep (or Wacky Races), but will just say this- sadly this evil which lurks in Humanity is as old as the time one tribe threw rocks at another tribe they’d not seen before and had different colour hair.
            It’s just that with our media outlets we are more aware of it through information and sadly it allows ‘the filth’ to have access to a wider audience.
            Enjoy cartoons, then sleep 😃 😄😴

            Liked by 1 person

            • You are quite right, that the constant barrage of media available at one’s fingertips 24/7 exacerbates the problem … shines a bright light on all the dust bunnies that had once been hidden in the corners. And, you are also right that hatred or fear of those who are different has been around forever. So, I’m thinking it is likely to stick around until we finally destroy the human race. But, I shall keep fighting against it, for to do otherwise would make me have less respect for myself. We can look in the mirror on the wall and see the external flaws … wrinkles, grey hair, crooked nose, etc., but unfortunately there is no mirror to show us the flaws inside.

              Ah … enough of that … time for another cup of coffee and folding towels! 😀 🙃

              Liked by 1 person

              • Another cup of coffee is a good strategy 😃.The quirk about media and the fashionable term ‘fake news’ (In my day that was glad ‘propaganda’, a term with much more gravitas 🤔) is the way it is viewed by some poor deluded folk who wish to appear sophisticated and independent minded. A news item from a recognised and respectable source is treated as manufactured yet anything put out by someone with a tin foil hat or who failed their job applications in journalism is viewed as ‘the truth’.
                (My own little history of ‘The Isles’…Secretly I’m hoping some clown takes it one step too serious and one day angrily challenges me or blathers about my exposing of ‘the truth’ 😉)

                Liked by 1 person

                • Quite so … the masses seem to prefer the three-ring circus that is Fox, Breitbart and Alex Jones to legitimate media that, though they sometimes make mistakes, at least attempt to relate facts and do research. I did have a reader … he since left … who questioned my sources on every post. I usually have at least 5-6 legitimate sources, but he would put them all down as being “fake news”. I was happy enough when he left, for his only purpose in reading my posts was to find fault, not to think and question.

                  I cannot imagine that anybody would challenge you to a duel over your wonderful History of the Isles! But then … there are some loons out there, so one never knows!

                  Liked by 1 person

                    • Yes, you need to make it more well-known, but truly, with the humorous tone, I still cannot imagine anybody starting a fight over anything you write. Hmmmmm … what you could do is have somebody who is in your camp start something and see if others jump on the bandwagon! 😀 Or you could even set up another persona and pick a fight with yourself! Now THAT would be fun to watch! Not sure whose side I would take … yours, or … yours? 🙃

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Funny you should mention the me vs me Jill, I tried that as a publicity stun on Lulu years ago and guess what someone complained about it and some humorousless adjudicator banned me for 10 days.
                      Whereas the company itself and its staff were cool, the there were a persistent clutch of ‘contributors’ to the various forums who were not the most supportive or constructive folk in the world; more like cliques, sour folk who were wannabe kritiks and mediocre writers from write-a-cliché central. Perhaps it’s better these days, I hope so.
                      Give me WP any day 👍 .

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Had to Google Lulu, for I had not heard of it. One would think that those in the literary field would be a bit more … er … broadminded? What a bunch of wussies! Well, if you ever want me to pick a fight over something, just let me know … I am a great scrapper!!! 😀

                      Liked by 1 person

  6. Why is it this message which should be natural has to become a law to make it so?
    Why is it that the message still has to be pounded home with a sledgehammer to some people?
    Why is it a President and a Justice Department can get into power and then try to reverse the good these laws have done, and a large chunk of the population are pleased?
    I was naive enough to hope and believe that we progressed as time went on, not regressed.
    xxx Cwtch xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are asking the same questions I have been asking myself for over a year now, dear David. And I have no answers. Ignorance? Surely that is part of it. Greed? Maybe. But I think the largest part is arrogance. Arrogance coupled with ignorance is a dangerous equation … it allows people to walk around with their noses in the air thinking … actually believing, somehow … that they are better because their skin is white, they are “Christian”, they are straight, etc. But it is fear, also … fear of anybody who is different from themselves, anybody who is physically different, but also who has different ideas. But they wall themselves off from knowledge, from cultural diversity, from the richness that those who are different have to offer. So no, I don’t have any answers, just a lot of speculation from years of mind bounce.

      I, too, was naive enough to believe we had passed the tipping point and were intellectually/emotionally beyond bigotry, but no … we are not … and if we are not now, then we shall never be.

      Many hugs, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jill, thanks for the reminder. As a 58 white man, I can attest the majority of white Americans do not fully appreciate the advantages of being white in our country. Reverse discrimination does occur at times, but it is profoundly dwarfed by discrimination against minorities, especially African-Americans. I would add the election of Barack Obama was a great moment, but it brought out the worst in a segment of Americans which has been made worse by the election of Donald Trump and his appointments of Jeff Sessions and Steve Bannon. We must guard against a return to Jim Crow mentality. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the way you phrased this … “Reverse discrimination does occur at times, but it is profoundly dwarfed by discrimination against minorities …” I kept trying to find the right words when I was writing this post, but you said exactly what I was trying to say!
      I have been pondering lately on the Presidency of Barack Obama. I was thrilled to see him elected, and feel that he was a good president. Certainly he was not perfect, but none have been, and I think history will treat him well. But it seems that, as you said, it also brought out the worst in some who apparently had latent racist tendencies all along. I will always believe that much of the hatred that was directed at Obama was because of his race rather than anything he did or didn’t do in office. And that is a damn shame, for it led to the tying of his hands in some areas, and perhaps he might have been much more successful otherwise. I wonder how long it will be before we drop the bigotry and elect another African-American, or … GASP … a woman? Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Jill. It is past time for a female President. Women are , of course, competitive, but the prevalence of zero-sum politics is less with female leaders in my view. – the I must win and you must lose mindset is unproductive. It should not be lost on anyone that 2 of 3 Republican Senators who wisely voted against the dreadful health care bill were women. And, it took ten female Senators to keep the US from defaulting on its debts resulting from the grandstanding Ted Cruz in October 2013. Keith

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