Editorial: Rethinking Affirmative Action

Let me begin this discussion concerning Affirmative Action by making clear that discrimination in the United States of America is more blatant against those who are of African American or Hispanic heritage than those whose ancestors came from European backgrounds. It is also clear that discrimination is blatant against those of the Muslim religion or of Asian backgrounds. However, Affirmative Action has become more complex than when initially introduced during the 1960s. For a moment, a brief history of Affirmative Action:

1. During the early years of the twentieth century new immigrants such as Italians or Poles or Jews confronted open discrimination in jobs and education.
2. The same was true for Catholics or for Indians or for women, etc..
3. During World War II, the President initiated –along with several states– the Fair Employment Practices Act(FEPC) which protected the rights of ethnic groups and African Americans(then, called, Negroes).

In other words, Affirmative Action was being discussed and practiced long before it became available to African Americans. Of course, someone of European background with a white skin could disguise self and pretend to be a WASP-white Anglo Saxon Protestant. Affirmative Actions programs of the 1960s emphasized skin color. They DID assist in the process of opening opportunities for the American Negro of that era, but it did NOT solve the problem of discrimination.

Today, ‘stop and frisk” programs focus on African Americans and Hispanics or Muslims. But, we need to make changes in Affirmative Action programs dealing with education. They should cease being based on skin color and be based on economic issues. POOR PEOPLE,regardless of skin color, confront discrimination in seeking to gain education. How does one explain to a poor white child from rural America that she/he must give way to a middle class black child whose parents can pay for their college education?

The rising price of college education makes it impossible for millions of poor children-regardless of skin color or ethnicity-to seek a college education. The bottom economic fourth of American society needs an Affirmative Action program for college costs. And, they need it NOW!