Affirmative Action. Movements For Change In the Collegiate System

In a country that was created in a resistance movement and for the principals of this government being the equal rights and representation of all peoples I find it almost comical (if what I was about to say was not so sad) that even in a society that’s roots were planted by those who resisted for equal treatment that this equality for all is not what we see in the American society today. The reality is that all men during our creation and in the subsequence years have not been created equal. The American society has allowed for structures and institutions of cultural isms such as classism, sexism, heterosexism, and racism to dominate our society giving privileges to some people while oppressing others and this has made our society so stratified that people either have a head start (in gaining wealth) or are stuck at the starting gate before they are even born. This being said resistance has been at the core of this countries foundation and through resistance is how people can end these gaps. One fight that has gain particular interest with this writer is the movement for equal opportunity for people or color to gain access to higher levels of education through the means of affirmative action policies and resistance against those who try to impede and stop this process.

The reasons for interest in this subject came from a line in Dalton Conley’s Book “Being Black, Living in The Red” in which he discusses the difference between African American men and White men’s wealth, Conley showed that within families of upper class income the mean wealth of African Americans families in 1994(114600) had almost three times less than their white counterparts (308000)[1]. There are many reasons to why this gap could be so persistent but this information showed only differences between people who were all ready viewed as middle or upper class however when one looks at Leonard Beeghley’s breakdown of national race income it shows that on average (With Asians being the only exception) whites make substantially more money (49000 to 310000)[2] and the root to this can be seen in our education system.

Today across the country people of color are underrepresented in college which in large part is due to structural and institutional racism that has been around from the era of slavery and has seen setbacks starting right after the civil rights movement with backlash against affirmative action movements. Historically affirmative action policies have been around since the 1964 Civil Rights Act which was used to give funds to work places, educational facilities to develop programs so that persons of color and women could be more equally represented. This was a step forward towards shorting the vast gap between races of people in America. This being said during the time there was a boom however backlash had started. People who were against affirmative action programs stated that these programs not only were an excuse to allow people who were less qualified because they were a minority or women but that affirmative action policies were discriminating to white men. However this backlash had detrimental effects tofurthering affirmative action policies.The best example of this was the passing of proposition 209 in the state of California in 1996. Prop 209 was used to ban the preferential treatment of students by the means of race and gender on the accounts that affirmative action was giving people of color and women easier access to universities while discriminating against white men. This was far from the point though, affirmative action policies helped give people of color better chances but a study showed that only 20 percent[3]of all four year universities engaged in affirmative action so by allowing prop 209 to pass came from a common sense ideology in which people thought affirmative action programs gave unfair balance of power to students when in actuality that there has never been a time where students of color have surpass 40 percent nationwide representation in colleges.

Prop 209 passed in 1996 and ten years later a study was taken by Grodsky and Kurlaender to see whether or not if this law showed that in a state that did not think race would have a significant outcome on the acceptance and student body makeup of the major universities in the state of California. The findings were outstanding the study showed that during the time of affirmative action African Americans were accepted 42% in most universities dropped to 13% Latinos went from 7.9% to 3.8%[3]. One can clearly see how this prop had a detrimental effect to people of color and seeing that only 20 percent of universities were using enforcing these policies one could see why there is such a great gap in wealth and it is because people of color cannot acquire the jobs because they do not have the equal access to higher education. The Worst thing is that today California still has prop 209 in place and it did spread to Michigan in 2006. So what can be done to end this oppression?

UC Berkeley Protest

The answer lies in resistance movements for affirmative action and against laws that want to end affirmative action policies which were instrumental in overturning the Michigan Civil rights initiative in July 2011 because of how it placed heavy burdens on its minority students. BAMN (by any means necessary) is an organization that sets up rallies, donates money and over all fights against the oppression of people in America and fights for the equal rights of all and their website has lots of information on how to raise awareness about affirmative action policies.   To learn more about California’s prop 209 and the movement to have it recommended check out which gives history and where the debate is now

LA Student Rally

Books For Reffrence

[1] Conley, Dalton. Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America. Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1999. Print.

[2] Beeghley, Leonard. The Structure of Social Stratification in the United States. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon, 2008. Print.

[3]Grodsky, Eric, and Michael Kurlaender. Equal Opportunity In Higher Education the past and Future of California’s Proposition 209. Cambridge: Harvard Education, 2010. Print


Articles Of Interest

Page By Joe Forson
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