In response to affirmative action support

Vanessa Pralle

I just wanted to commend Amy Knop-Narbutis’s opinion article, “In Support of Affirmative Action in Admissions.” More often than not, when the topic of affirmative action arises amongst white Villanovans, it’s common to hear a litany of complaints ranging from the incredulous, “Why do we have to give them an advantage on my parent’s dollar?” to the incendiary, “Why do we need affirmative action in a post-civil rights era?”

It renders difficult explaining, often in vain, how incredibly disproportionate basic resources that most of us take for granted are allocated according to our conservative, capitalistic society. For white Americans, it’s easy to assume that hard work in high school renders you deserving of a great education just like anyone else; white or non-white.

In actuality, minorities have never enjoyed the kind of intrinsic privileges and rights granted to whites, prior and post civil right era.

Since people of color have never been given any kind of monetary reparations, blacks have traditionally clustered at the lower 1/10th of the national income average. When society dictates the caliber of education you’ll receive is based on your family’s income level, it’s no surprise that black Americans are, on average, two grade levels below in reading and arithmetic than their white counterparts.

How can society deem blacks lazy or unmotivated when there’s little opportunity structure open to advancement? How can we negate the fact that over 60% of jobs are secured through friends or family members?

Or what about the studies showing time and time again that when two identical resumes are presented to perspective employees, 80% of the time the candidate with the white name will be chosen over the candidate with the black name? We exist in an increasingly divided society entangled in hypocrisies in which racism has become so institutionalized that we are practically numbed to it.

According to a New York Times writer (Edmund Andrews, Sep. 7, 2005), in the post-hurricane tragedy, House and Senate leaders are proposing a plan to cut $35 billion during the next five years after their frivolous Iraq war expenditures for programs such as Medicaid, student loans, food stamps and welfare payments. Want to take a wild guess as to who will be most affected by these decisions? Want to guess who will not be affected by these cuts?

Bottom line is that I applaud Amy’s article for exposing and articulating the disparities behind such a sensitive subject. Hopefully, in the midst of tragedy we can keep the interests in mind of those in dire need, as opposed to our own selfish agendas.

I believe that affirmative action is one of the only ways of helping a marginalized group engage in the upwards mobility that most of our ancestors enjoyed after migrating to “the land of opportunity.”