Racism and Affirmative Action
Racism is the discrimination of a group of people on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, place of origin or ancestry. Discrimination is the denial of equality based on personal characteristics, such as race and color. The term racism may also denote a blind and unreasoning hatred, envy or prejudice.
Three basic ways of describing racism are open racism, violent racism, and covert racism which all express forms of hatred towards distinct ethnic groups. These basic forms of racism, although different in form, all have the same main purpose, to promote racism. Open racism expresses freedom of racial thought and speech. Open racists promote their views using non-violent manners. Graffiti and racial or ethnic slurs would be considered an act of open racism. Open racism is currently declining, because it is considered politically incorrect and socially unacceptable. Violent racism promotes racism through violence, fear, and by degrading other races. Covert racism expresses ideas of racism in disguised forms; sometimes the covert racist is not even aware of the fact that he or she is racist. Racism is asserted, but is no longer blatant. People today are reluctant to express openly their dislike of and contempt for minorities. Avoiding minorities on the street and denial of a public benefit to a minority which would be awarded to a white are examples of covert racism. Since it is no longer politically correct to openly express one's racist views, people therefore favor disguised, indirect ways to express their bigotry. Covert racism is the most abundant form of racism in our society today.
A large source of the racism present in our society stems from one's pride in his own race. I find nothing wrong with anyone having pride in their race, but many people, especially those associated with racist groups, find it necessary to put down other ethnic groups in an attempt to strengthen their own. This mode of thought and reasoning usually results in extreme hatred of other races and an overall sense of racism.
The examples given above are all forms of personal racism. Personal racism involves racism expressed by an individual, due to their actions, beliefs, attitude and assumptions. When an institution applies either racism or racial injustice it s referred to as institutional racism.
If a completely non-racist president of a corporation decides to hire an assistant, but wants advice upon whom he should hire. Seeking help the president decides to ask his associates who they knew that would be best qualified for the position. Their race shouldn t matter, pending the associates aren t racist. If the associates are white, and mostly know white people, it is further presumed that the assistant hired will be white. This is called word-of-mouth hiring and is considered by Lawrence Blum to be a form of institutional racism. Blum s argument states that minorities will not have equal opportunity and therefor is an example of racism. I believe that if the president of the corporation is non-racist, he will hire only the most qualified person regardless of race or ethnicity. As long as the associates didn t allow race or ethnicity to hinder their decisions, there was no discrimination. It may not be fair to the people not known by the associates, but I know there were other people of the majority that were excluded too. Race and ethnicity weren t used in discriminating anyone and that is why in this situation there was no act of racism committed.
However, in the case that the associates where racist, and refereed only white people for the position, then it would be qualify as a form of racism. If the president s decision consisted only on the qualifications and not the race of the referrals given to him it still is racist. Through his associates an act of racism has been committed. I would have to agree with Blum in saying that it was an act of unintentional institutional racism.
What would happen if the corporation s president now has pride in being white? In simply having pride he has still not exemplified any form of racism. However, when asking his associates for help if he were to classify that the assistant must be white on the assumption that his race is superior to all others. Using race as a qualification for the position, the president has now denied equality to those of different races. Unlike before, he has now exemplified intentional racism.
I support DuBois with the idea that humanity is naturally divisible into a definite number of racial groups. I also agree that each race has the inherent potential to make a unique and equally worthy contribution to human civilization. Therefor, everyone should be given equal opportunities regardless of their ethnic background. So when race or ethnicity is used for a factor of qualification it will always be some form of racism.
Imagine the following scenario; two people go to an interview for only one job position at the same company. Both attended a prestigious and highly academic university, had years of work experience in the field and, in the mind of the employer, equally had the potential to make a positive impact on the company s performance. The employer has to make a decision upon who to hire. The employer is in no way racist, but due to affirmative action the applicant of a minority racial background was given the job.
The employer who isn t a racist person using affirmative action committed an act of racism. The applicant that was just equally qualified for the job was discriminated against due their race. This is why affirmative action is a racist practice. It uses race, color, religion, national origin, and place of origin or ancestry as a qualification. Affirmative action is defined as the use of race or ethnicity as a positive factor is hiring or admissions decisions. Turning the tables on previously favored groups is as unjust as the original discrimination. Under these circumstances affirmative action is indeed a racist practice.