preparing to take the SAT in seventh grade when I first discovered racial
profiling. Someone instructed me to fill in as many bubbles as possible,
since my minority blood might help me in college admissions. I was
too naïve to consider why, but realized for the first time that I was
in a separate category from most Americans. Prior to this, I had been
proud of having blood from multiple countries, but simply considered myself
an American. Racial profiling taught me that to many people, I wasn't
just an American.
Both racial profiling and affirmative action intend to promote fairness and
equality. In view of this goal, a May 2003 survey by the Pew Research
Center had surprising results: Sixty percent of Americans believe affirmative
action is good, while only 47% believe it is fair. The trouble is that
affirmative action requires an unlevel playing field. By doing so,
affirmative action serves neither fairness nor people.
Good intentions or no, many schools, businesses, and even government offices
in America are feeding discrimination. The first problem is that they
answer discrimination in kind. Admission officials and managers have
created a culture that discriminates for minorities by discriminating against
the white majority. Granted, there are many situations in which minorities
are discriminated against. People can be unfair. But is more
discrimination the solution? Will we one day need to repay whites discriminated
against by discriminating in their favor? It's an unhealthy circle.
The second problem is that minorities are essentially favored for the color
of their skin. We Americans believe that character and skill are what
qualify people for privileges such as education and jobs. People can
gain character and skill, but no one can control their skin color.
Nor should they need to. The extra points given for ethnicity are unfair
and weaken our campuses, workforce, and government. They boost less
qualified (or unqualified) people into positions which qualified people could
have filled. By focusing on color, we get custom designed diluting.
America values justice. Our "diversity policies" seek to promote equality,
but defeat their own purpose. That is because these policies ignore
equal opportunity in their effort to create equal outcome. To enforce
justice, those of us with minority backgrounds must not take intentional
advantage of a system that advances us based on skin color. Those in
school admissions, recruiting, and management positions must not discriminate
based on race. We need to leave behind the institutional policies of
race-based discrimination. Manipulated justice is injustice.
Once we stop institutionalizing affirmative action, we are free to do something
that we all want: Help people. Not meet to racial quotas, not to fight
(or feed) stereotypes, but to give people help. Over and over, our
wisdom has proved itself too small to manage ratios and equality in questions
of race and even gender. But we Americans are good at seeing individuals
with promise and giving them a hand. When we leave institutionalized
policy and can actually see faces, we know better when to truly affirm, and
just as important, we know better when to stop.
A society that completely ignored ethnicity would be an ignorant society.
There is no need to go there, and no chance we will. America is called
the melting pot of the world; it's one of her strengths. But as G.K.
Chesterton wrote, "even that metaphor implies that the pot itself is of a
certain shape and a certain substance; a pretty solid substance. The
melting-pot must not melt." Yes, please, enjoy Black Music Month, teach
yourself how to use chopsticks, feel free to laugh and declare that you'll
always love Highland dancing and never, ever wear kilts. But keep America
just; make sure she protects what's inside with equality and freedom.
Keep her strong by building on character and skill instead of skin color.
This morning, I pledged allegiance to my flag and republic. Then I
read an unsolicited college application. Near the bottom of the first
page, someone had written: "The following items are optional: How would you
describe yourself? (Please check one)." Please, why does it matter?
I don't want my race to be what wins me admission.
Someday, I'd really like to find a form that simply identifies me as ... American.
Raija Churchill is a freelance journalist dedicated to Christ and freedom. This article originally appeared on HourEleven.com.