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TH regrets racial affirmative action in academia

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/3/2016 Category: Education
Updated: 2 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 133 times Debate No: 94138
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It is general consensus that it is unfair to treat people differently based on race. Many historical injustices, including slavery, mass deportations, and genocides were carried out based on racial prejudices. However, in our efforts to correct these injustices, we may have inadvertently made them worse; one of the main examples of this is affirmative action. In our current society, many universities and colleges use what is known as "racial affirmative action" to choose applicants. While its proponents may believe that giving disadvantaged racial groups head starts in college applications could solve inequalities and bring communities out of poverty, it is principally abhorrent because it is in many ways similar to racism, helps justify racist ideas, doesn"t work in creating socioeconomic equality, and harms the very minority groups it aims to protect. Thus, all of society ought to regret racial affirmative action.


Racial affirmative action in academia occurs when colleges set lower standards for applicants belonging to disadvantaged minority groups than those who belong to majority groups or advantaged minorities. These judgements are based on racial labels like "White", "Black", and "Asian", and are not based on additional nuances such as socioeconomic status or ethnicity (e.g. "Laotian" and "Chinese" are counted as the same race.)


In this debate, I shall present to you three points: injustices and inequalities, justification of racism, and harms to minority groups.

Constructive arguments

1. Injustices to majority groups

Society agrees that it is fundamentally immoral to treat people differently based on race. Bakeries are not allowed to refuse service based on race. Companies are not allowed to refuse employment based on race. Yet the racial affirmative action practiced by universities such as Harvard has a fundamentally similar problem because it results in perfectly qualified students being refused simply because they are of a majority race. Currently, perfectly qualified White people and Asians entering top universities often are refused enrolment based on their race; they often need to acquire far higher SAT scores than Black and Hispanic students in order to be accepted. [1] Thus, because it leads to the disqualification of qualified people simply due to their race, racial affirmative action is a form of unjust discrimination.

While it may be argued that certain racial minorities, such as African Americans, have disadvantages such as low socioeconomic standings that would set them back, and that these setbacks require remedies to ensure equality, it is still unjust to use racial affirmative action to affect admission rates. Instead, we ought to put in place socioeconomic affirmative action, whereby poorer students are given a boost in admission processes. This is superior to racial affirmative action because racial affirmative action might cause an less qualified, but rich, black candidate to be selected in favour of a more qualified, but poorer, white candidate. Racial affirmative action would also lump in poorer ethnic groups, such as Laotians and Hmong, with the wealthier, homogenous group of "Asians", thus being an injustice to disadvantaged groups or outliers within generally more privileged ethnicities. In general, socioeconomic status is a better predictor of socioeconomic status, and thus privilege, than race is.

2.Harms to minority groups

College educated Black people often have a higher unemployment rate than even high school educated White people. [2] Because affirmative action causes less qualified Black people to be chosen over more qualified White and Asian students[1], companies might be more reluctant to employ a well-educated Black person because to them, a Black person"s diploma is worth less than a White person"s diploma. This form of injustice created by racial affirmative action occurs regardless if a Black college graduate was accepted mainly due to affirmative action or mainly due to his merits; thus, it also harms Black graduates who have gone through college with no help from affirmative action at all.

Plus, capable and competent Black students might end up less productive than their similarly capable and competent White peers because they get stressed out by the imposter syndrome, which can occur because they feel they don"t deserve their position because they were helped along the way by affirmative action.[3] Plus, affirmative action also might cause the imposter syndrome in Asians who believe that they were helped by being a minority, even if it was the other way around.[4] Because the imposter effect may lower productivity, and it comes as a result of affirmative action, it can cause companies to become reluctant to hire workers of a racial minority.

In addition, it appears that racially-blind judgement actually increases the number of minorities in college, with the racially-blind Caltech being 35% White while the racially-biased Yale being 57% White, and so on. Affirmative action causes colleges to accept a quota of racial minorities and then fill in the rest of the seats with White people; this is the opposite of solving racial inequalities.[5]

3. Justification of racism

The narrative given by many White Nationalists to justify their racism is generally that White people are reversely discriminated against in our society. When we do anything that makes their narrative appear more correct, we are practically making people more likely to become White Nationalists, as we would be backing their cause with evidence supporting their narrative. Racial affirmative action fits into their narrative that White people are discriminated against, because it does create racial imbalances, thus aiding their agenda. Aiding racist agendas creates racism, which is undesirable.


For [5]: thanks to @Hiu for posting this link. :)
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