Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Taking a Stand Against Ignorance

Taking a Stand Against Ignorance

By Shaina Jones

As America moves toward the 21st century, there is a hope that our country is moving away from the fundamentally unjust system called racism that has plagued our society since the time of its inception.

The United States still has a long journey before realizing Dr. artin Luther King’s dream that individuals “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” From active Ku Klux Klan organizations to court cases claiming “reverse discrimination,” it is apparent that ignorant views about race, which can lead to racist views, are still rampant in this country. This type of ignorance was manifested in a Viewpoint article on Tuesday, Sept. 14, called “More Equal Than Others” (page 3).

The article, written by Robert Swope (COL ’00), demonstrates a lack of understanding about affirmative action and contains broad stereotypes and discriminatory commentary about the African American community. I am an African American female as well as a member of the class of 2003, and I found this article insulting and filled with fallacies about affirmative action and blacks. I hope to correct these wrongs.

“Affirmative action” is a phrase first coined by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. He used it when creating the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which would ensure that qualified applicants for various jobs would not be overlooked because of their race, skin pigmentation or national origin. Kennedy also acknowledged that there were large discrepancies between qualified job applicants who were white and those who were black. He believed that federal policies must be created and implemented to rectify this discrepancy. The proportional difference in numbers between qualified black and white applicants arose from the longstanding effects of slavery and subsequent Jim Crow laws in the South and various forms of racial discrimination in the North.

Since Kennedy created the EEOC, many other affirmative action programs have been created. And since its inception, affirmative action has been scrutinized and criticized. According to Swope, affirmative action “has been expanded not only to serve blacks but any individual or group that doesn’t happen to be white, male or heterosexual.” If affirmative action is really such a great evil and its only purpose is to discriminate against the white, male, heterosexual population of America, then what exactly is racism?

The truth is, affirmative action was created and is still needed because white, heterosexual males have traditionally been given the “hand-ups” and “hand-outs” in this country, whether they are deserving of them or not. The objective of affirmative action programs is to combat this injustice. Its goal is to ensure that all qualified individuals, whether job or college applicants, will at least have the same opportunities. Of course, corruption occurs in the process, but what system in America is not at least partially corrupted? At least affirmative action is a step towards rectifying racist practices.

Affirmative action will not ensure equal outcomes because, unfortunately, life is unfair. This unfairness, however, should not lie in disregarding a qualified job or college applicant simply because he or she is not a white male. Furthermore, it is essential that adequate opportunity in terms of training and education be provided to all Americans. This is not affirmative action but the right of every American citizen.

The ongoing affirmative action debate affects Georgetown because it seems there are individuals on campus who believe that most, if not all, of the black students in the class of 2003 have been admitted simply because the university needs to fill a “quota” and not because the applicants, now students, are qualified. This is an absurdity.

To believe this statement, one must also believe that all the rich, white students were admitted because their father is “Daddy Warbucks”; the not-so-rich white kids got here because there’s still some sympathy for the less fortunate; increasing numbers of women were admitted to appease the feminists; Native Americans only received their spots because you have to please the “Indians” at some point; Latinos only got here because soon everybody will be speaking Spanish; and international students just make the school look better.

Anyone who believes these statements is saying that no one, including themselves, deserves to attend this university and that the admissions office is a farce. No one can convince me that I did not earn my place at Georgetown. And anyone who believes that any of my counterparts or I do not belong here, simply because of skin color, is dealing with issues much larger than angry sentiments toward affirmative action.

I would like to propose one scenario about Georgetown admissions that will serve as opposition to those proposed by Swope: A black guy and a white guy are both applying for admission to the class of 2003. They both request an application by mail, complete it and return it in a timely fashion. Both are qualified and both are admitted because each deserves his place here. This scenario is the same for women, Latinos, Native Americans and international students.

Ideally, affirmative action would change the racial and gender demographics of workplaces and learning institutions as well as the hearts of human beings. This, unfortunately, is not the case. Ignorance and discrimination remain prevalent in America; the reason is that these feelings are hidden in people’s minds. Until these feelings are eradicated, affirmative action will continue to be necessary.

Shaina Jones is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service.

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