So much for a Friday Fluff Piece...
This was a comment I was going to write in response to a previous post concerning the membership practices of the Congressional Black Caucus. The comment thread had started into a new direction. It had gone from the old “what if there was a Congressional White Caucus” modest-proposal-style argument (that ignores the fact that Congress is overwhelmingly white and male and has been for some time), and had journeyed into the more pressing, and important (in my opinion) discussion about discrimination & reverse discrimination in America. We’ll go ahead and make that a thread of it’s own.
Well, number one, whenever anyone makes a choice about anything, they are technically discriminating against whatever choices they did not choose, for whatever reason.
That being said, what DADvocate describes is the "anti-affirmative action/reverse discrimination" debate and some of the less than stellar results of a society grappling to right, correct or realign in the midst of a history of social ills, which is an important debate to have, and deals with issues society as a whole doesn't usually like to deal with in the public arena.
“The beginning of the end of my liberalism was when my mother told be that it was OK to discriminate against me, her own son, because others had been discriminated against for so long. Yet, she had always taught me that two wrongs don't make a right. But, some think they do in racial/gender politics.And, yes, I have actually been denied opportunities because of my skin color, white. An unusually candid personnel worker at TVA who knew my father told me so.The favoritism the company I work for now shows women is almost beyond absurb. Twenty something women have "special work schedules". No men. Several have requested, all denied.”
As far as the real issues behind what you're saying, I live in the South, I hear this all the time. I'm sure I've been denied jobs because folks who did the hiring wanted to hire a woman or someone of a different race, and I even realize that sometimes folks who were hired instead of me may not have been as qualified as I was.
But I know for a fact that I have been denied jobs because the folks who did the hiring hired someone with less qualification, less experience, or less recommendation than me who was a white guy! It is because, with 90% of the (worthwhile) jobs in this country, the person doing the hiring already knows the someone who they want to have that job. They are just advertising the position because Human Resources departments of organizations require it to be advertised to comply with Equal Opportunity Employer regulations. The interviews and resumes and cover letters are usually just a dog and pony show, to meet requirements.
While there are exceptions, and many places of work are actually looking for a qualified applicant to fill a position regardless of race, color, gender, creed or personal friendship (and God bless those folks), I would venture to say that the majority, the vast majority, of bosses are hiring folks they know, or their employees know, over other qualified applicants.
This is borderline nepotism, at least insider-ism, and the feeling that is left in the heart of the qualified applicant who was denied the job so someone’s pet could get it is that of anger. This is true regardless of race, creed or gender. Everyone has a story of how someone of another race, creed or gender got a job they were more qualified for – everyone. That’s why some folks, denied such employment, will be for affirmative action, and other folks, denied the same employment, will be against affirmative action.
My beliefs are not those that say ‘it is OK to discriminate against someone because of history,’ because that ain’t liberalism, that’s stupid-ism. Affirmative action is not, and never was supposed to be, a plan to fill the bureaucracies and businesses of America with un-qualified workers and administrators, it was designed to break the insider-ism of actual discriminatory hiring practices, where qualified individuals of minority races, creeds and genders were denied opportunity. Sometimes an organization would have to give a job to someone with less experience and education because the experience and educational opportunities had never existed before in that field, but the plan (maybe the hope) was that the folks who did have the education and experience in that field would work with and bring those with newly acquired opportunity up to speed.
Instead, the implementation led only to resentment, and an excuse for human resources departments, managers and workers everywhere to stop doing their jobs of ensuring excellence in the workforce by throwing up their hands and saying “what can we do, we have to keep ‘diversity’ around” sneering as they said the word diversity as if there weren’t a million other folks who could do a job that wasn’t being done by someone who just couldn’t keep up.
You can’t fire someone because of their skin color, gender or creed, and I’m glad we live in a country where that is the case. However, you should always be able to fire someone for not doing their damn jobs, but that takes actual work in the training, documentation and quality control of your damn employees. I guarantee, there are a million qualified workers of any race, gender or creed who are willing to fill the slot of your incompetent worker of any race, gender or creed and do a better job. Managers have to let them.
Instead, we’ve become a milquetoast society that is not ready to actually make sure our employees are doing their jobs because our managers don’t have the stones to do theirs. Yet, we’re the most productive society on earth because our workforce is filled with underemployed individuals who can’t get a job higher up the chain, who are working their butts off to cover their own rear ends and the rear ends of at least one incompetent co-worker.
You can look at the big American-Car-Company-Who-Can’t-Make-Money that made headlines yesterday if you think I’m lying about any of this.
Affirmative action ain’t your problem, is what I’m saying. It is lack of follow through and people making excuses. That ain’t a ‘liberal’ problem or a ‘conservative’ problem, that’s a ‘competency’ problem. That’s ‘our’ problem, because all of us who know better have to work hard against incompetency.
In closing, I will share with you the moment I lost faith in the anti-affirmative action/reverse discrimination crowd. It was when the University of Georgia’s Supreme Leader decided not to actually defend OUR affirmative action policy, that was not actually an affirmative action policy at all, but got to feed the myth that affirmative action is wrong.
In the realm of UGA admissions (and this is a highly generalized description of what was told to me by university admissions officials), we had standards for students who applied. On the first tier were students who had GPA’s and SAT scores over thus and such. All of those applicants were accepted to keep them from going to UNC. Then there was another tier of lower SAT’s and GPA’s. They got accepted as well. Then there was the third tier, with SATs and GPAs bordering on the “you don’t gotta go home, but you can’t come here”* level. Many of these students were considered a ‘tie’ for entrance, and the point system went into effect.
The point system was a 14 item (if I remember correctly) list of descriptions of the student where, if you fit a description, you’d get either .5 or 1 point. On this list were the questions of gender and race, and you got a point if you were in the minority of the UGA student body. BUT also on this list were questions of ‘did your parents attend UGA,’ and ‘did you live in a rural county.’ Both of those, in Georgia, were slanted towards white people getting points towards easing the tie. There were other questions about extracurricular activities and what not, but those four questions leapt off the page at me, because those are the things I pay attention to.
When, several years ago, two young ladies sued the University of Georgia because they were denied admission in favor of ‘other students,’ the insinuation was that they were denied admission in favor of unqualified black students who didn’t deserve to be at UGA. That being the 'affirmative action/reverse discrimination' myth. The reality is, if they were denied, they were probably denied based off their GPA and SATs (which is kinda what we aspire for in discrimination in the field of higher education). If they were denied because they lost to the points system at the time, they were going head to head with other students in their same GPA and SAT area, making anyone who took their spot qualified to go to UGA. And if they had been denied because they lost on the points system at the time, it was more likely they were denied by a male (minority gender), from a rural/suburban (white) county, whose parent(s) had gone to UGA (white) who had more weight in points than a male (minority gender) who was of a minority race.
But, instead of having THAT conversation, we got to hear the whispers like City Confidential as UGA’s ‘defense’ of our policy always seemed more of an admission that our University was doing something wrong. Last I heard, the points for minority gender and minority race had been removed from the points list in the event of a GPA and SAT tie. The 'legacy' and 'rural county' points were still there, again, last time I heard anything about it.
I guess it kind of explains why all of the black people I met at UGA were in on the first and second tiers, making a tie situation unnecessary; and why my brother’s funniest joke about me is that I made it into UGA before they did away with the minority gender provision, making my tenure at the University of Georgia only possible because of Affirmative Action.
*(I erased my original snarky comment, which was “maybe you ought to apply over at the University of Tennessee”, but I ain’t no classless UNC grad who looks down their nose at graduates of other big state Universities**)