If you've been following some of my comments, then you know that I'm against Affirmative Action. I've gotten both criticisms and praises for my stance. I don't mind the criticisms but I am frustrated by the fact that almost all of the criticisms are hinged on points completely irrelevant to my argument: They say because I'm Asian, I must be just pissed off; that I'm white-washed; or that I'm just a racist asshole who doesn't want racial inequality. How awful and untrue things to say. Even if they were true, which they are not, they do not invalidate any of my points because they have absolutely nothing to do with my arguments. As a matter of fact, many of my points against AA are extensions of points made by an African-American man by the name of Thomas Sowell.
Improving education and equal access to education has always been something I feel passionate about. So, I'd like to have an honest and constructive discussion on the topic of Affirmative Action. I'll be making the case both FOR and AGAINST AA below. I'll also add some potential counter-arguments for each of the points. Feel free to add on and have civil discourse.
- The Case for Affirmative Action:
1) Affirmative Action allows people to interact with diverse group of people, which teaches you perspectives: Learning more about other people and expanding our perspectives can never be bad. We grow more empathetic and learn variety of crucial soft skills by interacting with different people.
-> Counter-argument: This would be true only if we actually got to interact with diverse group of people. People are cliquey. Race-based admission only aggravates this cliquey-ness.
2) Affirmative Action improves social mobility:
-> Counter-argument: Social mobility has stronger causal relationships with the abilities of the individual, than where he/she went to college. There also are a lot of evidence that AA has been detrimental for social mobility.
3) While we work on improving our education, only way to allow more access to education for underprivileged people, in the meantime, is through AA
-> Counter-argument: This is what financial aid and merit-based scholarships are good for. Why can't we figure out ways to expand those programs? Being underprivileged is not a race specific thing. While quotas in general are not a good idea, a quota or quota-adjacent programs based on socio-economic standing would be far better than a race based one.
4) AA helps achieve racial makeup of colleges closer to that of the national demographics
-> Counter-argument: This is the weakest of them all. Racial makeup should represent the demographics of the applicants not the nation. We should be focusing more on having more qualified applicants from underprivileged backgrounds.
- The Case Against Affirmative Action:
1) Affirmative Action is a discriminatory and racist practice that disadvantages non-Black and non-Hispanic racial groups: By definition, this is true. Because of AA, acceptance rates for Black and Hispanic applicants are far higher than that of other racial groups. This is not a matter of opinion. This is a cold-hearted fact according to the very definition of discrimination.
2) Affirmative Action is ineffective at its intended purposes: There is good amount of evidence that AA is actually hurting "underprivileged minority groups" because many who would have succeeded at a slightly lower tier institution ends up falling through the cracks, which in turn impacts their career outlooks.
-> Counter-argument: Perhaps such cases are on the individuals themselves. Or perhaps such cases are only a small fraction.
3) Affirmative Action is economically sub-optimal: This is what quotas do. You are more likely to get less qualified students than you would have without AA.
-> Counter-argument: This sub-optimality is trivial and/or highly subjective.
4) Affirmative Action increases racial tensions & prejudice: We all have this biased perception that "a Black kid from Harvard is not as smart as a Jewish kid from Harvard" or the likes. Many people view the world through this lens even when it's not always true. If race wasn't a factor considered in admissions, this prejudice wouldn't exist in the first place. Moreover, there definitely is some race-based resentment on Black and Hispanic people from some Asian, Indian, and white Americans.
-> Counter-argument: If you live with more diverse group of people, then you get to understand them better and gain perspectives. This is the same as point 1 in the Case For AA.
5) Affirmative Action attempts to treat the symptoms while ignoring the disease: AA is viewed as some cure-all that will somehow magically get rid of inequality in education levels across different races. The truth is that it hasn't for decades. Why? Because we never bothered actually improving education and resource availability for "underprivileged" racial groups.
-> Counter-argument: I cannot think of one. Feel free to fill in the gaps.