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The Danger of Generalizations: Separating Racism and Affirmative Action

Pensive Mike, Blogger

If you’ve been following my blog pieces, you know that here at CWRU the new need-aware admissions policy has roused debate on one familiar and often hotly contested policy: affirmative action. With the disputes come assumptions. Proponents of affirmative action too often brand their opponents as ignorant or racist. Let me be clear: I may be racist, and I may disapprove of affirmative action, but these two are completely separate ideologies.

There is nothing more frustrating than taking someone’s rational, well-intentioned concerns about the reinforcement of stereotypes through affirmative admissions and confusing it with the same person’s longstanding animosity towards racial minorities. For example, when I first explain that I oppose affirmative action, I am often asked whether I believe in equality for those suffering from institutional bias. Implying that my views are motivated from the monstrous and destructive basis of racism, which I also just happen to endorse, is unthinkably offensive.

For example, I recognize that those given a position largely based on affirmative action may be less qualified than their peers, perpetuating the belief that people of that race must be “stupid.” That’s why, if anything, the racist part of me wants to endorse affirmative action. But the rational part of me is aware that those put into positions through affirmative action may not be ready for the task, lowering productivity, which is a large part of why I cannot support the policy.

Grouping together people who oppose affirmative action and those who promulgate racist views, even if they form the same group, is horribly misguided. This grouping is irrational and insulting, much like the offensive classifications that racists like me make everyday. If a person frequently blogs about protecting the U.S. meritocracy, does that somehow imply that they will protest the construction of a mosque or bow when an Asian American enters the room? Of course not; for me, those ingrained habits are entirely unrelated.

The conclusion is clear: millions of people like me agree that affirmative action should be abolished while also holding simmering resentment towards those from ethnic-minority backgrounds. Those who associate the two impulses, simply because they happen to come from exactly the same people at the same time, should be ashamed of themselves. I only wish there were more people out there as open-minded as I am.

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