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Affirmative Action: Who Does It Really Benefit?

Updated on May 26, 2017
Juliet Stewart profile image

Juliet Austin- Holds an M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from E.S.U., she spends her time with her dog's, Heckel and Jeckel.

Our Blackness

By: Juliet Stewart -Austin

Oh Please! As if everyday we don't open our eyes and see;

our beautiful complexion, our beautiful lips, eyes, thighs, hips,

as if we are not grateful and celebrate our simply being.

and sing eternal praise to the Gods for blessing us thus,

the pride in our steps, the singing in our soul.

Our tribute to Mother Africa for giving birth.

Do we not proudly stand each Day in reverence a tribute to our blackness?

As they try to belittle, berate, and take from us our very souls.

We don't have to yell it from the hills, or scream it with our lips.

It's there, In our carriage.

it's the way we walk, the way we talk, our smiles,

It tells the story of how proud and regal we once were, and are.

I don't need a Month in History to tell me to be proud.

I see it every Day it is the way we walk, talk, it's in our carriage.

It's the smile in our eyes that hide Years of pain, degradation, mistrust, and shame.

Yes shame! not for ourselves but for you;

who would defile us, who tried to devour us with your hateful ways.

Your non repentant attitude, who would kill us, and end our very existence.

We who are a proud race, a black race, a race of descendants of Kings, Queens, hunters, warriors, farmers and slaves.

I see the pride, it's the way we walk, talk, it's in our eyes, lips, thighs, and

hips, it's in our carriage.

The Yes Action.

1961 saw America nodding its head at the suggestion that guidelines needed to be made to allow for Women and Minorities to be fairly treated, as it pertained to allowing for the qualified to be given an advantage within the Work Force and as it related to Educational endeavors. Affirmative Action opens the door to a broader segment of the Population, however, it was also extended to People with Disabilities the ability to be normalized into a Society that at one point considered them less than able bodied and capable.

Taking its cue from the Civil Right's movement, Affirmative Action, and it's policies demanded that Businesses and Colleges opened its door for Minorities and Women. In 1961 President Kennedy issued an Executive Order 10925: Government must take Affirmative Action to ensure applicants are employed and employees are treated fairly during their tenure of employment; without regard to their race, color, creed, or National Origin.

I'm sure at the time of its inception, much like any other Law. It appeared to be a positive step in the right direction. After all, it would force companies that had racially biased motivations, to now screen for qualified Applicants. A great idea in concept If, it did indeed encourage the hiring of the targeted group based on Qualifications.

President Lyndon B. Johnson, Amended and Executed Executive Order 11246, which prohibited employment discrimination based o Race, Color, Religion, and National Origin by recipient's of Government Contractor those receiving Federal Funding. Two Years Later Johnson again Amended his previous Amendment to include requiring Federal Contractors, to hire, promote equal rights for Women and Minorities.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963, which aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex, diminished sexual discrimination and encouraged more women to enter the labor market by giving them fair remuneration to help in the raising of families with children.

The Revolution, A Woman's Right To Defining Self

If the 1960s was the gateway to self-exploration, sexual identity, and the right's of Women to choose, it allowed for certain freedoms that before; would not have been recognized.

Then the 1970s, was that critical defining moment, of recognition by the Male Population, that gone were the gender specific roles attributed to Women, and Marriage as we knew it then would not be defined nor determined by the Male. Female vocal artists did their part of establishing and elevating their voices to defying the Male long held beliefs of supreme dominance. Music defined and also united the Women Liberation Party.

Jean Knight, burst onto the scene in 1971 with "Mr., Big Stuff", the Lyrics were bold, defiant and inspirational. Female led groups such as Honey cones, gave Women a voice, the songs boldly stating what most Women everywhere wanted to say out loud, even those not defined by Feminism, embraced the message, "Want Ad's, spoke to Women as did "One Monkey don't stop no show". Helen Reddy further inspired us with what I like to call the Women's Anthem, "I am Woman". No longer were Women settling for or agreeing to be defined by her ability to snag a Man based on her looks, and homemaking skills. The Pretty Woman Syndrome, which devalued and heralded that Women, without a Man, was inferior or lacking in sexuality due to her choices to remain single or non-Childbearing became unacceptable.

Misconceptions And/Or Implications Regarding Affirmative Action

Blacks even if accomplished will carry with them the stigma of Affirmative action. There are some who have benefited from these Laws, maybe myself included, just by virtue of being black, and Female. Educationally, however, we all my Friends and I really excelled. Every opportunity that presented itself would be room to open the door to brag to our Caucasian counterparts about our achievements. No one asked, or treated any of us with disrespect, or disdain, but the feeling and stigma followed us; for me, it propelled me to work harder in order to eek out my own niche, to be seen as Worthy.

The stigma that follows and attaches itself to most Blacks Male or Female, is one most of us will fight very hard to overcome. Like anyone else we are appropriately pleased that this Law, allowed us to be able to become Educated in whatever Field we desire, as well as opening up the door to Employment. We would rather see a Society that did not require Laws to tell People how to behave ethically, and morally. Unfortunately, however, Society has not progressed to that point.

Devaluation Of Self And Stigmatization: The Equitable Exchange.

Skeptical regarding the outcome and a little embarrassed I attended College in the 80's, wondering if the color of my skin and my sexual orientation would somehow propel me to the forefront, instead of my qualifications. Even though I graduated High School with remarkable Grades a very High SAT Score and ACT Scores, the humiliation brought on by the label of Affirmative Action was one I struggled with. One of four Black Students in a majority White Catholic College we clung Together because of commonality, skin Color being one. Three Women and one Male, we the student in attendance, were all raised Catholic. Self-esteem tends to be tied to what an individual value about themselves, being a good Parent, Financial Wealth, Employment, Education level etc.

Devalue: To place less emphasis on, or underestimate worth or importance. (synonym belittle, depreciate, denigrate).

Stigmatization: To characterize or brand, to label unfavorably.

Devaluation of Self: As it relates to Affirmative Action, although opening the door to opportunities we would otherwise not be considered for, the result of such Law helps to further divide the Population. Most Blacks, Women and Men alike will tell you, that the Law is demoralizing, it's a just Law with unjust repercussions. It takes away the pride and determination of a group of People that if given the opportunity based solely on ability; would thrive, and be productive.

The need and or will to become Employed, to attend College or learn a Trade or just to work a position we are qualified for, is what we all strive to do. Self-esteem tends to be tied to what an individual value about themselves, being a good Parent, Financial Wealth, Employment, Education level or all the previously mentioned.

The thought that our ability to care for our Families by working hard (based on experience) is tied to a Law which forces People to hire qualified Individuals, shows a prevalence of the racial divide and or bigotry that exists.

Stigmatization: It is popular assumption still, that on the basis of being Black Male or Black Female especially, that employment obtained was simply by virtue of skin color; Affirmative Action. Being qualified is never seen as a viable reason, and is viewed as forced inclusion for the unqualified, or under-qualified. As per Paul Ryan "There is a tailspin or spiral in our community..., we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner City, in particular, generation of Men not working, not thinking about working or learning the value or culture of work. So there is a real culture Problem that has to be dealt with".

The image that has followed the black population is one that is unfair, as well as being a false impression of a culture of People who have struggled through and by Slavery and denigration. We could revisit the root cause of the problem that has created the chasm in wages as it pertains to the Black Male, however, it's been discussed ad nauseam.

"Whiteness in America is a different symbol—a badge of advantage. In a country of professed meritocratic competition, this badge has long ensured an unerring privilege, represented in a 220-year monopoly on the highest office in the land". Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Racism and bigotry In hiring practices.

We live in a Society that is all too accepting of the concept that Caucasian Men have every qualification that a job requires, or that they work harder or prepare harder for the World of work. What we really have is a Society that is dominated by Caucasian Men. They control the hiring and firing, and in most cases will, and have bent the rules in order to accommodate Friends and Family, occasionally hiring from the Community to meet Government fair hiring practices. Even then a majority of the hires are Women, Caucasian Women are of course first consideration for hire, then other minority groups before a black Female applicant will be available for consideration and lastly the black Male.

Taken from excerpts accredited to Ta-Nehisi-Coats, in which President Obama is quoted as saying. "I’m careful not to attribute any particular resistance or slight or opposition to race. But what I do believe is that if somebody didn’t have a problem with their daddy being employed by the federal government, and didn’t have a problem with the Tennessee Valley Authority electrifying certain communities, and didn’t have a problem with the interstate highway system being built, and didn’t have a problem with the GI Bill, and didn’t have a problem with the [Federal Housing Administration] subsidizing the suburbanization of America, and that all helped you build wealth and create a middle class — and then suddenly as soon as African Americans or Latinos are interested in availing themselves of those same mechanisms as ladders into the middle class, you now have a violent opposition to them — then I think you at least have to ask yourself the question of how consistent you are, and what’s different, and what’s changed".

White Privilege Does not Exist The unwavering long-held belief by some.

Most Caucasian males have an entitled self-view; a harsh but fairly accurate observation, they are reared from birth believing that hard work pay's, they have never had to worry about being denied an interview based on an outdated question on a job application: What is your Ethnicity? This question can and is often phrased in such a way as to require an answer based on skin Color. The Caucasian Male has no idea what it feels like to be denied an Interview just based on how one answers that question. The Federal Government understanding the implications of, and perhaps missing out on qualified Applicant, has in recent Years removed the racial identity question from their Application process, in some cases a perspective hire is a three-fold process and is done by phone. It is still not a foolproof process, but it is a step in the right direction.

The Caucasian male has no idea what racism, bigotry, and devaluation feels like unless they are Members of the non-gender specific Population, Gay, Transgender etc.

Charles Murray a professed White Nationalist explains that "certain groups are disadvantaged because, on average, they cannot compete with white men, who are intellectual, psychologically and morally superior. Murray advocates the total elimination of the welfare state, affirmative action and the Department of Education, arguing that public policy cannot overcome the innate deficiencies that cause unequal social and educational outcomes".

These opinions while not factual shows again the hatred and disregard that is ever prevalent in this Country. History has established that intelligent Men and Women come from all walks of life. Intelligence is not a birthright of the Caucasian Population and has nothing at all to do with color, but more to do with early Education, positive role models and the ability to access services that enrich life.

It was never more apparent, than in this instance that Affirmative Action is not only required but a necessity.

A Jackass will bray even when it's well fed

Much like the esteemed ( by his colleagues), Paul Ryan has no idea what it takes to actually live, work or try to maintain a Family on minimum wage. He will never know the stigma racism and bigotry carries. He can, however, stand on the sidelines spewing baseless, factually incorrect opinions.

Paul Ryan cited Charles Murray, a conservative social scientist who believes African-Americans are, as a population, less intelligent than whites due to genetic differences and that poverty remains a national problem because “a lot of poor people are born lazy.” Although Blacks have been the major contributors in the areas of Banking, Science, Music, and other valuable usable inventions. This long-held incorrect documentation is one a small uneducated population of Society still holds to be true. In fact, a great many writings, Inventions, to include our current system of banking was either stolen or mimicked by our Caucasian counterpart.

Wage disparity

People have very short term Memories when this Law was first enacted it was for the benefit of Black People, (Men and Women), raisingThe Disabled, and Caucasian Women.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963, which aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex, diminished sexual discrimination and encouraged more women to enter the labor market by receiving fair remuneration to raise families and children.

The assumption is that Affirmative Action is a biased reverse form of discrimination. However, this Law benefits only the Caucasian Female. It's long term effects are demoralizing to Blacks and People with Disabling Conditions. Employers found a way to circumvent the Law while their hiring practices still favored able-bodied (NON-DISABLED) Caucasian Male, who despite their complaint of reverse discrimination make up more than 50% of the gainfully employed.

By combining or grouping, a segment of Society they managed to uphold the Law by doing as little as possible. A Company required to hire a Minority, Disabled, and Female, will use a variation of ploys in order to meet Federal requirements, by hiring one or two People meeting the criteria's listed.

Ex: Disabled black Female, Disabled Black Male, Caucasian Disabled Female- eliminates the need to hire two People who may be qualified, by hiring only one that meets both criteria's.

A triple find eliminates the hiring of two additional Employees. Black, Female, and Disabled.

The Black Male does not really benefit, and over time we see a decline in the Population of Black Men becoming Gainfully employed, the unfair misuse of or interpretation of the Law; though legal is still biased. Statistics show that as Black Women and Women, in General, advance the Black Male is still not afforded a Fair opportunity under the Affirmative Action Laws. Most employers will do as little as possible in an attempt to cut cost. the hiring of a Black Female ensures they have a Token, Minority and Female. We see an increase in Black Females in positions Traditionally held by their Caucasian Counterparts(Male or Female). This holds true to a certain extent for Higher Education.

Benefactors of Affirmative Action; A Return to Matriarchy.

Although it is widely assumed that only Blacks Benefit from the Yes action. the notion should be dispelled as the major beneficiaries are Women. America has seen a steady increase, since 2006, in the number of Women in the workforce due to a variety of reasons, decline in Male being employed, due to lack of Education, experience and a decline in College attendance.

According to the U.S.A. Census Bureau Of Labor Statistics, as it concerns employment gainful or otherwise. 67.4% of the Population eligible to Work are employed. Women from the age of 16 and above hold 16% of those jobs.The largest percentage of employed women (40.6 percent) worked in management, professional, and related occupations; 32.0 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 21.3 percent in service occupations; 5.2 percent in production, transportation, and material moving occupations; and 0.9 percent in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations.

The largest percentage of employed White, Asian, and black women (46.1 percent, 40.6 percent, and 33.8 percent, respectively) worked in management, professional, and related occupations. Hispanic women showed their strongest attachment to service occupations at 33.2 percent.

Although the Employment rate is on the rise for Women statistic shows that Caucasian Women, as with their Male counterparts have a higher rate of Employment in the Workforce.

While it is true that integration into the Secondary Educational System, tend to be fairer in its ability to empower People of all Races that meets the Federal Guidelines. Black Women and in a few cases Black Men, who know that Education is vitally important in order to be considered for entrance. Will work harder during the formative Years in High School, score well on State recognized Test to ensure that they get acceptance into College. The balance of Minority acceptance as compared to Non-Minorities is still vastly underrepresented. Men Caucasian and Minorities are opting for a Secondary Education, although the ratio of Caucasian Male obtaining a Secondary Education is still higher than the Minority group.

Differences in academic achievement, progression rates, types of courses taken, the level of effort, and field of study may all affect the labor market opportunities of women relative to men..., Although overall proficiency scores have increased or remained relatively constant over time, differences between female and male proficiency remain. Compared to males, scores at age 9 for female students are higher in reading, similar in mathematics

Statistics show that since the early 1990s 100% of Females vs. 80% of Males were more inclined to register and apply to College. The gap between the employment rates for women and men narrows, as education levels increases. More Women than Men are inclined to enter a Masters Program. Women in the workforce first surpassed men in obtaining college degrees in 2006 when 34 percent of working women held bachelor's degrees, compared to 33 percent of men.

Does Affirmative Action Benefit only Minorities(Blacks)?

See results

The Paradigm Shift (A change In basic concepts and Daily practices).

Black women are now the most educated group in America, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. A higher percentage of black women — 9.7% to be exact — are enrolled in college than any other racial or gender group, including white men, white women, and Asian women.

The stigmatization that has followed primarily Women, (blacks and other Minority groups) should now be dispelled, as Race does not seem to be the determining factor as it concerns Educational achievement. As the black Women enter the workforce It seems to have more to do with Education qualifications, than race.

Although Academically Black Women are advancing, becoming more educated that carries a responsibility. The Power to be a Humanitarian: To embrace all cultural differences, to educate others, to illuminate what is good and right about differences. Simply put, unlike her Caucasian counterpart the use of the position of power and influence does not negate the need to hire unqualified like cultured applicants.

Although Educationally there is an increase in the number of Black Women becoming Educated and holding positions of Authority in the workplace, Black Women are still below White Females in the job market. This still speaks to the need for fairness and impartiality in the workplace. We also see a disparity or unequal pay rate for Black Women vs Caucasian Women who are similarly educated and qualified, as it relates to the Civilian sector. As it relates to the Federal or State Gov't., there is more evidence of pay equality.

However distasteful the implications of the Affirmative Action Laws may be, it needs to remain an integral part of the Constitution, as a means to protect those it was intended to serve.

"Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) is an American lawyer, and writer. She grew up in the Southside Chicago, Illinois, her determination and preparedness led her to obtain a degree from Princeton and then Harvard School of Law. Mrs. Obama spent her early legal career working at the law firm Sidney Austin where she met her husband", the 44th President of the United States.

It's time to tear down that wall, the wall of silence that has and continues to plague Black American's, and People of Color. The stop and frisk, stop and kiss, the killing of unarmed dark skinned African descendants, the brutal attacks on our Children. It's time to eliminate the race questions on job applications. From this point on It should not be a question, it's insignificant. All that should matter is employment based on experience, and qualification only.


The Educational Progress Of Women: (1995), National Center For Educational Statistics.

U.S.A. Census Bureau Of Employment And Statistical Information, (2010).

Ta-Nehisi Coates, My President Was Black:

Copyright clause: As it pertains to all written work Copyright Laws and plagiarism Laws applies cannot be copied or used in part or totality without giving credence to the Author as it stands under intellectual property laws.


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    • Juliet Stewart profile imageAUTHOR

      Juliet Stewart-Austin 

      2 years ago from San Antonio, TX.

      Thank you for your comment, I've been off site for a while. I find it's very difficult to change Peoples perceptions when they get to a certain age, however it's not impossible. Yes you get it! Communication, honest open dialogue is the way.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      or does something you just hate, find a frenid to vent to until you can find good attention for him again.Gradually over the course of many conversations you can begin to offer other ways of looking at things. You can share your experience and how it's different from his. Affirming and appealing to his basic goodness ( I know you're such a kind and frenidly person and I know you wouldn't want to hurt someone else or however you'd say it), you can let him know, from your heart, how some of the things he says and does make you feel, and why this stuff matters so much to you. It could be very helpful to share how you're exploring and what you've discovered about your own white privilege and what you're doing about it.This process goes better when we respect the other person and reach for their core goodness. It doesn't work so well when we feel self-righteous, on a mission to show people where they're wrong so we can fix them. A clue to how you're doing: if he's talking a lot, you're doing fine. If he gets defensive, then somehow he's feeling judged and you may want to back up or try another approach.Useful framings: Isn't it funny how white people ? Here's what I've noticed about white people: ______. Why do you think we do that? That's an interesting idea/thing to say/perspective. Where did that come from? and a little later: Can I suggest a different way of seeing that? Don't be afraid to use humor, if that's natural in your interactions with him. As one NCBI ( trainer put it, Racism can be heavy stuff, but working to free ourselves from it doesn't have to be. As you might imagine, this is a long process, an unfolding conversation and a commitment to someone you really care about. It can be heart-breaking to see how deep the stuff is, but the process can be profoundly liberating. On the way you get to build a deeper relationship. I once attended a children's book conference where I met the renowned African-American illustrator Tom Feelings. I was very involved in antiracism work, somewhat self-righteously, so I complained to him about how difficult it was to try to get white people to change their attitudes around race. His response: You've got to love them to it. Good luck with this great endeavor! I'd love to hear how it unfolds.


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