The issues of race and gender, and more precisely the issues of equal rights for everyone regardless of race and gender, continue to be controversial and never fully addressed. While programs like Affirmative Action have tried to provide equal opportunity, they have failed because of one main issue- if it is injustice to discriminate against racial minorities and women on the account of their race or sex, then it similarly unjust to give them preference for the same reason.
This essay will prove this statement by showing specific examples of how preferential treatment increases rather than decreases the importance of race and gender in American society. Basically, there are three main reasons why preferential treatment makes racial and gender differences important instead of eliminating them. First, preferential treatment gives the appearance that minority genders or races are inferior and need to be given advantage not on their merit or ability, but on their membership in a certain group (Cohen & Sterba, 2003), actually putting them at a bigger disadvantage.
Second, there is the issue of reverse discrimination, which basically means that by giving advantage to the minority, the majority is discriminated against in the long run. Lastly, the provision of programs like Affirmative Action and others create divisions between minority groups themselves, as each group vies for advantage over the others, which puts the minorities with the smallest numbers at the biggest disadvantage, as their voice cannot be heard clearly enough.
Perhaps the bottom line in racial/gender discrimination, ironically enough, is that true equality can probably never be realized, for one group will always come up with less than another if a program exists to provide advantages which are not strictly merit based. In closing, it is fair to say that until a “magic bullet” is developed for true equality, the scales will always be askew.
Cohen, C., & Sterba, J. P. (2003). Affirmative Action and Racial Preference: A Debate. New York: Oxford University Press.
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