Action gets the affirmative

by Russell Contreras

OK, one last time -- Affirmative action is a necessary program that needs to be established in the work force, in the public sector, in business and in education, in order to create a level playing field for minorities who would otherwise be passed up. Period.

It's a tool used to allow (key word here) "minorities," who have been historically discriminated against, an opportunity to get their foot in the door of places where they previously could not. It's a tool that challenges the Eurocentric assumption of what is "merit" (how much knowledge one has accumulated on Eurocentric history and lifestyles) and allows these historically repressed minorities a chance to prove these basic assumptions wrong.

What affirmative action is not is a tool used to secretly marginalize whites (as if this could be done), nor is it a program that has intentions of so-called "reverse discrimination." It is not a regressive or racist policy that privileges certain groups over a dominant one (key word here), which contributes to what one woman called the "dismantling of our country's merit." And it's not a policy that gives a Texas Southern University minority graduate with a 2.0 GPA a job over a white who had a 4.0 GPA coming out of Harvard.

As we anxiously await the Supreme Court's decision to review a case in which a "Klan" of white students (who, according to UT-Austin grad student Carol Noriega, had "sucky grades and a poor academic history") sued because they were denied entry into the University of Texas Law School for reasons of "reverse discrimination," the debate heats up on both sides of the argument.

On one side, we have a posse of white males (not white women) leading the fight to kill the civil rights initiative, singing "We Shall Overcome" in a homo-erotic mist of strong brotherhood. And on the other side, we have minorities who are now beginning to speak out at the backlash they have been enduring for quite some time now. This debate promises to be a bloody battle. (That's why I'm excited.)

Now, many of us knew that the contention over affirmative action would come to this stage, where both sides would gather troops in an effort to gain broader support. But in the case of the historically discriminated minority groups, far too often they are the ones on the defensive -- and the ones who lose. If policies like affirmative action are scraped from the books, it would not "turn back the clock" as many paranoid critics claim, but it would definitely be a start.

If you are a supporter of affirmative action and are upset with recent attempts to dismantle it, show your support at the Rally Against Growing Inequalities Thursday at noon at the Satellite. The event is sponsored by a coalition of minority student groups and outside community organizations that are fed up with the current anti-minority sentiment. Though many topics will be discussed, the overall theme is the same: We demand that inequalities stop, starting with those at UH.

Contreras is a senior English and history major.

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