Affirmative Action: A Myth of Mental Slavery By Cristina Arra

Even though affirmative action was designed to eliminate discrimination, affirmative action has become an effective tool in creating opportunities for minorities in Corporate America and in the Higher Education system. For years minorities have struggled for equality and acceptance in the “Land of Opportunity” and for years they have been barriers put in place to keep minorities “in their places”. However, President John F. Kennedy issued an Executive Order which created a Committee of Equal Opportunity in March 1961. This committee was created to “take affirmative action” and oversee federally funded projects that ensured companies hiring and employment practices were free from racial bias (Brunner, Borgna 2007).

For centuries minorities have argued for equal opportunity in education and in Corporate America. Though it has taken time America always seem to come up with and plan to ensure that all of its citizens have equal opportunities and share equal rights. With the number of foreigners making their way into this country yearly and grabbing their piece of the American Pie with minimum complaints from the government, why is it that minorities still complain about inequality? America is no longer a nation of one language; it’s a nation of many languages. So many minorities have opened doors and removed barriers thus creating opportunities in education and equal opportunities in the World of Business. Yet minorities still seem to be unsatisfied.
In the year 2000 Florida passed the “One Florida” the beginning of plan to end affirmative action through out the state, also know as the initiative to education (Kareem, Nedra 2009). Governor Jeb Bush’s One Florida initiative prohibited colleges from consider race of applicants in the admissions process (Kareem 2009). Instead colleges are to consider test scores in the application process. The FCAT is a standardize test administered yearly to students in public schools beginning in third grade. This FCAT like many other statewide tests, measures what has been taught through out the year, the student’s ability to comprehend and their ability to use strategies to answer bias questions. In 2003, 12,500 high school seniors in Florida were denied high school diplomas. In the same year in Miami-Dade county, 6,500 students did not pass the FCAT of those 51 percent were Hispanic and 41 percent were African American (Fairtest June 2003). Aren’t those the same races that colleges were discriminating against in the application processes? With the majority of the students affected by these standardize statewide test being of a minority ethnic groups, there is no need for colleges to consider race in the application process. These bias and unfair tests results make up for the blatant discrimination that once existed in the colleges admissions process.

Many minority residents throughout the state were disturbed by the statistics and organized a boycott against the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT) (Fairtest.org 2003). The number of children failing these tests seems to cause a commotion throughout the state with such high number of high school seniors being denied diplomas and almost 40,000 third graders statewide were threatened with being retained due to FCAT results, in the same year and the numbers seems to increase as time progresses. In his book High-stakes Testing, author Robert Murray Thomas quotes Gov. Jeb Bush in a speech he gave in defense of the FCAT program. During the speech he turns to Sen. Larcenia Bullard, an African American Democrat who was also vice chairwoman of the Senate education committee, and said “To suggest that we have a lower standard or a lower expectation for one group of kids, Larcenia, just doesn’t make sense. I know you understand that” (Thomas p.127). Why couldn’t minorities understand then that Gov. Bush had all students best interest in mind when implementing these standardize testing in Florida? What about the percentage of minorities that past the test, they represent those minorities who will continue to open doors and break down barriers. These few individuals will represent the majority of the minorities; for they have met the “standard” so why is it there are still so many complaints? Why can’t minorities look at the entire picture Gov. Bush appointed a minority to over see the testing program it is set in place to ensure all students will have equal opportunities based on their abilities measured in these standardize testing. Why can’t minorities “understand” that?

Have the chains been removed from the wrist and place on the mind? Many would agree that affirmative action is just a form of mental slavery. Minorities have to realize in order for one to feel totally accepted in the corporate world and the Higher Education society there is a process one must undergo. The standardize test is just an initial step in being accepted. According to Gaines and Miller the group of people that seem to be majorly affected by these test results and theories to support the making up of a criminal; one can only conclude these test are use to determine who will be our future criminals and who will be the future business leaders. Minorities make up more than fifty percent of the prison and jail populations, also theories states that criminals more than likely are the result of low income families, with low intelligence and high levels of testosterone, Gaines and Miller (2005). Fairtest plainly states “Students from low-income and minority-group backgrounds are more likely to be retained in grade, placed in a lower track, or put in special or remedial education programs when it is not necessary”. Is it ever necessary?

Affirmative Action and Corporate America
In the walls of Corporate America minorities are breaking down barriers, making changes and creating more opportunities at an alarming rate. Minorities have come along way since the Civil Rights movement and the government continues to create programs to promote and motivate change. “In 1985 African-Americans made up 12.1 percent of the workforce and held 4.6 percent of managerial positions. In 2003 African-Americans made up 13.8 percent of the workforce and held 6.5 percent of the management jobs” (Associate Press 2005). Look how far they have come over the years and it’s a result of America’s Affirmative action program, making progress. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Affirmative Action is defined as “positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded” (Fullinwider, Robert 2009). History has proven and with the election of the current President Barrack Obama, an African American Democrat, minorities should see that change is coming and minorities will are being accepted as equal and no longer is the a distinct separation among race. Many companies have made major adjustment to rules and guidelines to accommodate minorities. For example, Sharon Nelton states in her article: Meet your new workforce – growth of minorities in the workplace; includes related articles on managing diversity and language policy, she tells us how many companies may institute rules that “favor the traditional white male culture” such as banning corn rows for women of color or setting uniformed dress codes (Nelton, Sharon 1988). She also states that many companies do not promote minorities or women fearing they may be “going out on a limb” by promoting women however there should be no complaints because they hire them (Nelton 1988). So why is still so difficult for minorities to grasp the concept?

What minorities must understand is its time to stop complaining and see the bigger picture by implementing standardized testing in the educational system, by implementing personality tests in the workplace, the government is bringing minorities a step closer to equality. The process is to weed out those individuals whose thought processes do not measure up to the standards. The few of minorities that meet these standards will continue to represent the percentage of educated and working class in America and once the mindset changes so will the standards. This is not an easy process. The tests are administers as a monitoring device that handpicks certain minorities without directly discriminating against a certain group of people. The results speak for themselves. It’s the governments way of saying it’s not our fault we aren’t discriminating these individuals just don’t measure up.

The Constitution of the United States was created stating that all men were created equal long before Affirmative Action was set into place. The Bill of Rights was created in 1789, creating laws for the “equal individuals” to live by. For many years minorities have been fighting for a voice, an equal opportunity and justice. Under the ruling of President John F. Kennedy, the government decided centuries later to create a “Committee” of individuals to protect the rights of those certain individuals who, as interpreted by a document in which this country was founded upon, are considered equal. To kill the dream of equality Governor Jeb Bush prohibits colleges in Florida from considering race in the application process, while administering bias standardize test to students yearly only to have those students, who the colleges were discriminating against, look like failures or not college material. As his bother President George W. Bush enforces the “no child left behind” to pass those kids along in school then force them into society to become criminals. Yes Affirmative Action has come along way and minorities still have a journey ahead of them. Even after this Affirmative Action was been set in place minorities are continuing to fight for the same things they were fighting for prior to the creation of the Committees and programs. So the question at hand is Affirmative Action just a facade to assist in keep minorities in their place by disguising discrimination in Corporate America and in Higher Education?

References:

Associated Press (2005). How African- Americans are Faring in Corporate America. Dallasblack.com. Retrieved August 9, 2009.http://www.dallasblack.com/entertainment/corporateamerica

Brunner, Borgna (2007). Timeline of Affirmative Action Milestones. Columbia Encyclopedia. Retrieve July 21, 2009. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/affirmativetimeline1.html.

Fullinwider, Robert, “Affirmative Action”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Retrieve July 29, 2009. URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/favicon.ico.

Gaines, Larry K. & Miller, Roger Leroy.(2005). Criminal Justice in Action: The Core, Chapter 12: Punishment and Sentencing. Retrieved on July 26, 2009.

Nelton, Sharon (1988). Business Services Industry: Meet your new workplace- growth of minorities in the workplace. Retrieved July 29, 2009. Meet your new work force – growth of minorities in the workplace; includes related articles on managing diversity and language policy | Nation’s Business | Find Articles at BNET

Thomas, Robert M. (2005) High-stakes Testing: Coping withColleteral Damage. Retrieved July 28, 2009. High-stakes testing: coping with … – Google Books

Florida Protests FCAT: Fairtest The National Center For Fair and Open Testing. Florida Protests FCAT. Retrieved July 29, 2009. Florida Protests FCAT | FairTest

Florida Protests FCAT: Fairtest The National Center For Fair and Open Testing. How Standardize Tests Damages Education. Retrieved July 29, 2009.http://www.fairtest.org/facts/howharm.htm

Kareem, Nadra (2009). Affirmative Action in the Century and Beyond: Race Relations. Retrieve August 11, 2008.http://about.com

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