Illustration by Mikayla Moore-Bastide

Affirmative Action Vs. Quotas

There's a massive difference between affirmative action and quotas
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There’s a massive difference between affirmative action and quotas

Reverse discrimination does not exist. Discrimination is discrimination. Now that we got that straight, let’s learn the difference between affirmative action and quotas, also known as tokenism.

Affirmative action is an effort by institutions to improve educational and economic opportunities for underrepresented groups and communities.

Quotas force diversity without factoring in actual inclusion. The pathetic attempt to meet numerical goals to appear diverse. This would be considered discrimination. This is actually unconstitutional.

Affirmative action does not mean that a university or employer is only making their decision based on race, ethnicity or gender. That is also discrimination.

Affirmative action is taking the necessary steps to improve diversity and inclusion within the institution. This includes dismantling the deeply ingrained discrimination within the educational system and the workplace. Affirmative action takes time. Quotas are a quick fix that fixes absolutely nothing but pretends as if it had.

We are all aware that proposition 16 did not pass. The proposition would have allowed California’s institutions to consider race, ethnicity, and gender when making decisions on hiring and admission by using affirmative action policies. This prop was attempting to reverse the affirmative action ban that took place in 1996 with proposition 209.

This was meant to destabilize the lack of inclusion, and figure out ways to attract more members of underrepresented groups such as women and BIPOC. Of course, they need to be qualified. That’s the whole point of affirmative action.

Let’s say there are two individuals applying for the same position, an example is the marketing director of a company. Imagine their resumes are identical, they have the same level of experience, graduated top of their class, perfect interviews, etc.

One applicant was a white man from Los Angeles and the other applicant was a black woman from Atlanta. Using affirmative action, the employer should hire the black woman because her voice may be the voice they need at the table to move their company forward. That is affirmative action, it’s taking the necessary steps to be inclusive and open your eyes to expanding to various walks of life, not just one specific group of people.

Now quotas, which are very different, are very problematic. It’s like a quick fix to diversify the workplace or the institution. Having and keeping a numerical goal is a problem. Saying that their company needs to have at least 10 percent BIPOC and 15 percent women is not okay, under any circumstances. When quotas are put into place, inclusion is not happening.

When these quotas are not being met, the employer or institution may end up bringing on underqualified individuals just to meet their mark. This helps no one.

This extends to tokenizing employees as well. An example of this would be Bon Appetit. Employees of color, specifically Sohla El-Waylly, the assistant food editor, went public saying that she was constantly being used as the face of diversity. She was being pulled into random photoshoots and continuously being asked to show up in cooking videos. Yet, she wasn’t paid for any of it. She was being used by the editor, Adam Rapoport, to make the staff look diverse and inclusive when in fact, that was not the case. It was a quick fix.

Please, do not tokenize photographs, orientation videos, or the institutions or workplaces at all.

Regarding universities and colleges, there would have been various programs resulting from affirmative action. Thomas Peele, Edsource investigative reporter, wrote a piece explaining what affirmative action was and an explanation on prop 16. Peele touched a bit on CSU’s and how this would impact the colleges.

“Outgoing CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White said the ability to use affirmative action policies would have let the system address “a fundamental opportunity gap” that Black, Latino, and Native American students face by providing targeted scholarships and programs to help them stay in school and achieve a four-year degree,” Peele said.

One way that we can put affirmative action into place is by recognizing that there needs to be a change. There needs to be representation present in order to attract people from different backgrounds. Everyone’s culture needs to acknowledged and respected. This includes religion, traditions, language and even holidays. Keep in mind not everyone relates to you.

Don’t be afraid to receive criticism or feedback on how you can improve.

Prop 16 not passing in California was a huge mistake. I hope that we can educate others on what this actually means and how it can improve institutions.

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