Race, News, Social Justice

Pretending that affirmative action is a free pass doesn’t erase the fact that it helps people like me

It may not be here for you, but it's here for me.

Success has never been handed to me. I’ve lost hours of sleep, worked hard in school, and I’ve taken advantage of opportunities offered to me.

I just graduated high school this past week and it is such a sweet feeling. It made me think about the whole year that just passed, especially the college applications. If you haven’t made it to that step in life, all I’m saying that it’s not the easiest thing in the world.

I applied to only three schools, and one school, in particular, I was sure that I was going to get denied from was American University. Even the best of students get denied — how could I get in too? However, American saw potential in me and hoped that I’d join them in the fall.

Even though I’m not able to attend, I’m proud of myself for getting in. I, a young Black woman from two immigrant parents, was accepted into this university. The acceptance letter gave me more faith in myself and in my writing. That’s a feeling I know other students of color feel when a college/university wants them. 

“How come you got in, but I didn’t? It doesn’t make sense!”
“Understand that you only got in because of affirmative action.”

Yes, people thought – and said – these kinds of things about my acceptance. It’s as if I’m supposed to feel bad for achieving success. It doesn’t matter who I am, the fact I got accepted is what matters. And “affirmative action” is your counter argument? Stop trying to twist something beneficial for minorities into a free ticket that gives you everything you ever wanted in life.

No, affirmative action isn’t Disney Land, where all your dreams come true when you wish upon a star. 

Affirmative action was created to give people like me the same equal opportunity as a cis white male. It makes sense since the country is literally built off of a discriminatory system (our “Founding Fathers” were all cis white men with power, y’all, no surprise here). 

However, some of you still don’t quite get it, so let me take the time to address some of this nonsense.

What’s the history behind affirmative action?

<a href= “https://www.racefiles.com/topics/affirmative-action/”>racefiles.com</a>
Race Files

Turn the clock back to 1961 when President John F. Kennedy first said the phrase “affirmative action” as a part of his Executive Order for fair treatment for all employees, no matter their background (which lead to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC). Affirmative action was first created to help Black people get fair chances in education and employment. However, President Lyndon B. Johnson had to sign an Executive Order to make affirmative action a part of employment in 1965 and college/university joined later on with their enrollment.

Today, not all 50 states have affirmative action policies. Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Washington have banned it when it comes to college/university enrollment.

<a href= “https://tcf.org/content/commentary/what-can-we-learn-from-states-that-ban-affirmative-action/”>tcf.org</a>
The Century Foundation

“Is this an easy pass for minorities?”

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Giphy

The people of the Civil Rights Movements didn’t fight hard for equality just for it to be labeled as an “easy pass”. Just like in the 1960’s, white privilege is still alive and well. Minorities still have to work twice as hard to get what white people get for being mediocre, ten times harder if you’re a Black woman. I can’t fall asleep in class or not be bothered about missing an application deadline or easily get into anywhere I want. I must go the extra mile to even be considered a good student. 

If it was an easy pass, trust me, I’d be at American with a full scholarship the second I said: “I’m Black.”

“Do we really need it?”

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Reaction Gifs

As I mentioned before, people of color still have gone above and beyond to get what white people get handed. A place where people no matter their race, gender, class, sexuality, etc. working together sounds much better than one single race ruling over everyone. Why only stick to one point of view when you can get more?

If that doesn’t convince you, let me remind you that college educated Black women still make around $19,000 less than college-educated white men, Latinas receive 56 cents to a every dollar white men get, women can even achieve a Masters degrees and still get paid less than men with an undergraduate degree, and the unemployment rate for Black people (16%)and Latinx (12.5%) are still higher than for white people (8.5%)

And those are just some of the facts.

“Isn’t this a form of reverse racism though?”

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First off, “reverse racism” doesn’t exist. Second, since it doesn’t exist, the answer is automatically no.