Affirmative action aims to address discrimination and unequal access to education and employment opportunities. In the United States, blacks and other social minorities do not enjoy equal access to education and other social and political opportunities. There is therefore a need to take deliberate actions to ensure that no member of the society is discriminated against by employers and schools administrators. This has however been treated as racial preference in some quarters. Ironically, affirmative actions began early than many Americans know. In the early 1790s, America decided to grant full citizenship to all European immigrants. Other races were not conferred citizenship. This was the first instance of racial preference with a tinge of white privilege. This paper will employ various sociological concepts to explain the racial preference of white Americans.
Racial profiling is a sociological term that means relying on a person’s racial orientation as the basis for engagement. In the United States, this has been the norm rather than the exception. Both the Federal government and other states agencies accord whites and blacks differential treatment. Michigan State for instance awards 20 points to those applicants that are either black, Latinos, or other racial minorities. However, the odds are heavily in favor of white families. Schools award poor white children an extra 20 points. Other race minorities are deprived of the extra points even when they deserve them. Students hailing from isolated areas are considered geographically isolated and they earn an extra 16 points. Very few black families come from the Upper Peninsula. They thus miss the extra 16 points. Racial profiling in Michigan State has racist undertones with tinges of white preference.
United States economic survey reveals that the whites occupy high cadres in the economic substratum while other racial minorities languish in lower cadres. Whites have always averred that their economic advantage has come about because of hard work. A history of America reveals that blacks, Latinos, and American Indians have worked harder than their white compatriots have. Blacks have spent more time in the open field and industries, and Latinos have put more energy into plantations than any other race. However, their hard work has not afforded them economic success. White children are in a position to inherit wealth accumulated over time by their parents. The economic inequity is likely to be further entrenched.
Ideally, education should cure economic disparity by securing benefactors good jobs and a stable future. However, the United States’ education perpetuates inequality. Most states award points to students who attend high schools reserved for the crème de la crème. This policy benefits the whites because they are the majority in such top-notch schools. Ironically, white preference is subtle and rarely criticized. When the Federal government introduced affirmative action to improve access to education by racial minorities, there was an outcry that affirmative action is tantamount to reverse discrimination. The outpourings contained lamentation that people should compete for places in schools through merit, not a race. In a bizarre twist of events, the benefactor of affirmative action shut the door so that others do not enjoy the same.
Blacks and other racial minorities have been victims of stereotypes and wanton prejudices. A common prejudice against blacks is that they are lazy and not ambitious. The label has discouraged many young black children from working hard because they do not feel good enough. In sociology, this concept is called labeling theory. If society labels an individual as lazy, he will more certainly resign to the label and become lazy. Labeling goes hand in hand with social control mechanisms. Racial minorities receive socialization that makes them believe that they are second-class citizens who cannot add up to much in life. Whites on the other side swim in racial preference to the extent that they do not notice it. When employees and other federal agencies consider blacks for employment at the expense of a white to enhance inclusivity, people condemn it as reverse racism. However, when an employer hires a white at the expense of another racial minority, it is normal. Such is the hypocrisy and double standards that pervade American society. Society has historically skewed the economy to favor whites, yet the common narrative is that blacks are not ambitious enough o progress in life.
The question of racial inequality and affirmative action has lingered in most discourses for a long time. When the Federal government takes affirmative actions to redress inequality, there is always a loud cry of discrimination from white Americans. America has placidly accepted white preference but has remained recalcitrant to affirmative actions to minorities. In 2003 for example, the former president, George Bush, spoke strongly against Michigan’s policy of awarding 2o points to racial minorities. In his anger, he forgot that white Americans have benefitted more from such awards than members of any other race have. Essentially, equality entails providing commensurate access to social amenities. What America should strive to achieve is equity. Minorities historically marginalized deserve affirmative action so that they are at par with other citizens.