Affirmative in the Negative

I have a coworker with whom I exchange lighthearted banter about the issue of race relations. I might ask him if he has seen a new movie that just opened, or maybe watched a TV show, and he will invariably respond with “No. There’s no black people in it,” even if there are. We also joke about the current administration, because during the campaign, he would tease me saying “once we get the white house…look out, boy,” and now he’s realizing his mistake. Especially since he is a conservative—which is rare in a non-Caucasian. As funny as these jokes are, they belie a real undercurrent in our society; that of continued division between ethnicities.

Many who clamor for social justice will plead for complete equality for all people, regardless of color, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation or gender. To ensure this equality, they ensure that everyone is aware of the differences of these distinctions. They point them out at every opportunity and then insist that the only way be equal is to set quotas and assign percentages for the different categories that they have identified.

Yet this is the best way to ensure that there is no equality. If you put two identical flowers in identical pots on identical plant stands and price them the same price, a customer has nothing to make the determination which one to buy. They will simply grab the one they find the most aesthetically appealing to their senses. If you put two similar plants in the same situation, but one plant is purple and the other is green, and that is the only distinction between them, the customer will make a decision based on the same criteria: which is more aesthetically pleasing to their senses. If you had one hundred of each of these plants and 95 people bought the green one and only five people bought the violet one, what does that say? According to the tenants of social justice, the violet one must be sold in the same number as the green. It cannot be sold for less money, because that would devalue the violet which would not be equal. So what must happen is that customers must be compelled by law to buy the violet one no matter what color they preferred.

Affirmative action was born out of the civil rights movement and did a lot to force equal representation of racial diversity. It did nothing to change attitudes, though, and may have set into motion a more deep-seated resentment in many people of all races. This is not to say that attitudes have not changed. They have changed—significantly. Evidence of this is quite evident and in residence in the White House. This tells me that we no longer need affirmative action. There is no need for quota management, no need for any person to be passed over for a job or a promotion just so that some spreadsheet balances the colors.

Comcast is in the process of taking over NBC and that process is before a review committee. There are those on that committee that are insisting that, in order to get their approval, Comcast must commit to creating more 100 percent black-owned and operated TV stations. This is just quota management on a corporate scale and is totally inappropriate in today’s marketplace. Television should REFLECT diversity as it exists in society, not try to shape it. I realize that in this case, Comcast and NBC will probably strike a deal with those committee members, and that there will be a flurry of press releases touting racial diversity, if only as lip service. There may even be more shows with more blacks on them which would make my friend happy. But that this matter was even raised is the real problem, not any sense of real racial diversity or affirmative action, because it demonstrates that there are those in positions of authority that are still using race as a bargaining chip. As long as that happens, we will not achieve true equality, because true equality truly depends on ignoring not highlighting differences.


Filed under Media, Politics, Society

5 responses to “Affirmative in the Negative

  1. Dean

    So what do you do about it?


  2. Michelle

    I am not saying this is the way it should be or it is right, but it is along the same lines I was talking about yesterday. When it comes to the current paint color trends and fashion color trends. The people in those industries decide what colors will be available to consumers on the sales floor; therefore, that is all we have to choose from. So, if you see an abundance of green blouses right now, it just means that was the primary color chosen by the fashion industry to be available in stores. It really has no indication of the colors consumers want to wear. It just shows we are letting the industry dictate what we wear, or in your case what we watch.


  3. Halee

    1)you should be writing for something bigger and more widely read than just a blog….
    2)I think in our hearts a majority of people believe what you have written, but how can we act upon changing the status quo?


  4. Scorpio Woperchild

    During this past election, I heard too many stories about people who felt they needed to decide whether they should vote against a woman or against a black man. As long as those attitudes persist, we have not come far enough.

    Affirmative action is not the answer though. On that, you are right. Just as labor unions have far outlived their intended purpose and are now harming our economic viability, affirmative action as it is implemented, is not working.

    So what does work?

    I think we need to address what the underlying issue is — that of value judgment. All other factors being equal, we value a certain type of person, a Caucasian person, over a black person. Same education, same background, we still tend to hire the white guy. Why? Maybe because he’s more like us. Maybe because we fear that which is different. The fact is, it would be a wonderful world where race played no part in these decisions, where we’d resort to flipping a coin for these choices.

    But we don’t.

    As you say, we choose the green flower rather than the violet, in spite of the fact that the violet one is perfectly capable of doing the job.

    So, how do we achieve that color blindness?


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