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August 04, 2017

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE? AFFIRMATIVE ACTION!

 

August 2, 2017 

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE? AFFIRMATIVE ACTION!

Statement by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. 

 

Elections have consequences. Following the election, polls showed that white people with racial fears and animus toward people of color made up a primary and sizeable portion of President Donald Trump’s winning Electoral College coalition. And when fearful white people elect you they expect you to select people that will put forth policy positions that result in a political return. An internal memo at the Justice Department yesterday just revealed some of what that payback will entail – an attack on affirmative action.

 

First Trump appointed an Attorney General, Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, a person who once filed a “fake lawsuit” against African Americans alleging they engaged in voter fraud and whose whole career has been opposed to the interests of African Americans and other people of color. He’s a leading opponent of voting rights for African Americans and people of color and was the most anti-immigrant senator in Congress before his appointment as AG.

 

Second during the Trump administration political appointees with a political agenda not professionals with expertise in civil rights will guide the Justice Department and its policies.

 

Third focus will be put on alleged discrimination against historically privileged white people not on the victims of historical discrimination – people of color, women and the disabled.

 

Fourth Trump’s Injustice Department not only plans to attack affirmative action, but has already attacked voting rights, police department consent degrees to end police brutality and begin police/community reconciliation, equal rights for women and LBGTQ rights.

 

Fifth the Trump administration is attempting to threaten and intimidate the leaders of America’s colleges and universities to force them to cut back on their diversity efforts and programs.

 

Sixth the Trump administration wants to more sharply put a single focus on test scores. Tests scores have been shown to have a cultural bias in favor of whites and whites often have better elementary and secondary preparation for higher education than people of color. Plus tests scores alone have not shown to be reliable predictors of success in the university or in life. More holistic approaches to admissions that most colleges use have shown to be a more reliable predictor of success.

 

Seventh the Trump administration is returning to the practice of deliberately miseducating the public about what affirmative action is and is not. In fighting for inclusion we’ve always had to fight fake news, false allegations and ideologically driven propaganda.

 

Affirmative action is equal opportunity. It’s not reverse discrimination, not a requirement to hire unqualified people or companies, not against merit and not a quota system – just some of the stereotypes propagated by those against equal opportunity.

 

Unlike in the past affirmative action requires that everyone – people of color, women and the disabled – be in the pool for consideration, consideration for a job, a promotion, a contract or admission to higher education. If everyone is in the pool – including white people and males – and no one is left out there is no reverse discrimination. However, if everyone’s in the pool, but people of color, women and the disabled are never chosen, then we know that racial, gender and/or disability discrimination is in play. You must be qualified to be in the pool. It’s illegal to hire an unqualified person or business, so affirmative action is not against merit, but the qualifications for the job or promotion must be job related. If the presidency was based on affirmative action, Donald Trump couldn’t be in the pool because he’s not qualified for the job. Setting goals and timetables are not quotas even though if a company sets a timetable and reaches its goals on time it may look like a quota, but its not. Only a judge can impose quotas, after resistance to equal opportunity and continuing discrimination have been proven in a court of law. Race and gender may be taken into account if two people are equally qualified and there’s a history of racial and/or gender discrimination, then race and/or gender may be a determining factor. That’s just fair and rational!

 

The National Football League implemented an affirmative action policy of inclusion that said if a head-coaching job becomes available the team must interview or consider at least three people and one of the three must be a person of color. It didn’t guarantee that the person of color would get the job. But it did guarantee that a person of color would at least be considered. As a result there’s been a gradual increase in African American head coaches. If affirmative action is murky to anyone the role of the Justice Department should be to clarify what affirmative action is and is not; what can be done and what can’t be done under affirmative action. It should not be to propagate white racism as the Trump administration appears to be planning to do.

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