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Practices that held down people of color led to Affirmative Action


Monday, at a celebration of the life of Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King, I was asked how much shame and guilt African Americans must feel knowing that their success was a product of Affirmative Action.

I must say that my reaction would definitely have not made Dr. King proud. I asked how people without color felt knowing that they have gotten jobs for 400 years with help from practices that denied people of color from competition.

Rhetorical question. They do not see it that way. Never considered that if you were of a different color, you would not have the career you have/had.

Affirmative Action was put into place precisely because qualified people of color were being denied opportunity because they were not white. When that became federal law, people without color fought back by accelerating their moves to the suburbs, bringing employment opportunities with them, while redline policies ensured that people with color could not follow.

Additionally, states have kept tax-based school funding thus ensuring children without color the best education possible, while school districts of color often are left scrambling for the basics. Then Eurocentric tests were administered that kept the products of those inferior school districts from advancement.

I recently ran across copies of the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity, and it dawned on me that if those tests were given for advancement, the business landscape would look very different.

Plus, women were added to the minority class. While I am happy for all women, those without color have been the biggest beneficiaries of a policy designed to help integrate society. I wonder why no one mentions this as a key factor in the ever-widening financial gap. The positions people of color filled began going to women, doubling their families’ wealth while denying people of color opportunities.

At the end of his life, Dr. King was focusing on jobs and opportunities. As Affirmative Action is under threat, I think we should revisit that theme and find ways to fulfill that dream of his.

Deborah White lives in Doylestown.

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