What Does an “Equal Playing Field” Mean?

-Amith Dayananda (‘18)

 

Anthony’s forehead is dripping with sweat. The decision for his dream school comes out tonight. Anthony worked hard all of high school, whether it be staying after school countless hours for various extracurriculars or studying so much the night before a test he only got an hour of sleep. When the clock struck 12, Anthony received an email. He had been accepted to one of the nation’s top colleges. All of the work he put in since the beginning of high school had finally paid off. He and his family rejoice. Tears flow down the face of his parents. The next day at school, Anthony tells his close friend of his acceptance. But instead of a gleaming look of excitement or a flurry of congratulations, his friend proposes a question that would stay in Anthony’s head for years to come: “What did you expect? You’re black.”

Like Anthony, many teens work extremely hard to get into their dream school, only to be told their acceptance was inevitable because of their skin color. Society must stop diminishing the accomplishments of minority groups. Misunderstood by many, affirmative action policies are ones that provide equal access to education and employment for groups that have been historically excluded or underrepresented. By giving minorities an equal chance of obtaining an acceptance or job compared to a majority race, affirmative action aims to achieve equality. Though one of the most controversial topics in America, affirmative action continues to positively impact society by promoting tolerance in communities and creating an “equal playing field”.

In past decades, affirmative action has instilled a newfound diversity throughout communities all over the nation. The creation of tolerant communities is being promoted through the addition of a variety of different ideas and beliefs (Kellough 48). Giving employees the opportunity to work with people that bring different skills and views helps them recognize that everyone is important for different reasons. In terms of effectiveness, adding diversity to a company or team has been proven to increase performance rates more often than not. So much so, diverse workplaces outperform non racially diverse teams by 35% (Woolf). In addition, affirmative action allows diversity to accumulate in places that were once ruled by a specific race or gender, such as men in nursing or women in engineering.

The main benefit of affirmative action, however, is the creation of equal opportunity. Minorities continue to  suffer the consequences of  oppression from past centuries, and affirmative action fosters the ability to create an equal playing field. For example, the poverty rate for African-American households is nearly triple that of Caucasian households (CNN/Kaiser). This is most likely the effects of living in impoverished suburbs during the segregation era. The education system in these areas lacks the necessary tools to provide children with a good base for learning, thus leading to a life in which they were not given equal opportunity. Some may say affirmative action is unfair as some believe it takes less qualified candidates for the pure reason of race. On the surface this may seem unfair, but in reality most minorities work just as hard as their “more worthy” counterpart. Systematic disadvantages such as poor education, lower income and lower expectations serve as barriers between minorities and their goals. Affirmative action gives disadvantaged groups a real chance to go to the school of their dreams or attain the job they’ve worked hard for.

The benefits of affirmative action, such as the creation of an equal chance for every person, no matter race, and the promotion of tolerant communities, all contribute to the greater good of society. With the creation of more benevolent communities, society can avoid cases of oppression and unfair treatment. Giving everyone an equal chance of obtaining their dreams instills the idea that anything in life is attainable with hard work. Many kids, like Anthony, need to know that they did indeed get into the school of their dreams on their own merit. Anthony’s acceptance was the product of his own hard work.    

 

Work cited

CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 55% of blacks, et al. “The Black-White  …..Economic Divide in 5 Charts.”

Kellough, J. Edward. Understanding Affirmative Action: Politics, Discrimination, and the Search  ….. Justice. Washington, DC: Georgetown UP, 2006. Questia School. Web. 1 Dec. 2017.

Woolf, Sylvie. “10 Diversity Statistics That Will Make You Rethink Your Hiring Decisions.”

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