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Topic: Discrimination Essay

Class: Principles of Ethical Reasoning


Professor: Tracy Finn
Name: Heather Browne 5893177
Date: May 23, 2015

Introduction
This paper will look at America's history of discrimination, the negative state of race
relations that has resulted, and whether or not anything can be done to improve the
situation.
In his essay, Ten Myths About Affirmative Action, Scott Plous looks at many of the reasons
why this measure is, today, seen in such a negative light. While the spirit and the intent
of affirmative action may have been pure, it may have helped to contribute to the heavy
climate of racial divide that it sought to remedy. Overall, it is seen unfavourably by both
Whites and Blacks alike and as such, may be causing more harm than good. Even so, is it
inherently bad because a majority of the population may be against it? White men now
see themselves as the injured party because of affirmative action, without taking into
consideration that even if every unemployed Black worker were to displace a White
worker, only 1 percent of Whites would be affected. (Plous).
Robert K. Fullinwider, in his essay, Affirmative Action and Fairness, tries to understand
whether or not businesses can be trusted to do what is right, legally and morally, without
being mandated to do so. The lofty goal of not discriminating is a noble one, and should
be aspired to, however this solution seeks to whittle a massive conundrum down to a
simple slip knot. It takes more than good will and good intentions not to discriminate. It
takes capability as well, and that may be hard to come by. (Fullinwider). Systemic bias,
such as it is, also colours this issue. Many would fight to uphold the status quo for varied
reasons, they, of course, cannot see how that status quo looks to someone that do not
share their colour and experiences. This leads to the question, are you discriminating if
you are ignorant of the fact and are trying to uphold your own traditions
Segregation

America, as a country, was built on segregation. And in many ways, continue to thrive on
it today. Granted, the politically correct response to the topic is outrage and disgust, but
where is the outrage when there is not one looking? And in many places no one is
looking, hence, segregation continues as a matter of course.
While some of these notions are supported through years of systemic failure, quite often
they are also supported by the very people against whom these practices have been
used. As such, there seems to be no end to the problem. Both sides of the issue have
drawn a line in the sand together, and that is where their commonality ends. They have
now retreated to their own sides, fighting for exactly the same cause but having different
reasons for doing so; and hating the other side for the views that they hold.
America is united in name only, and no one is willing to give an edge to make the name
true. It is a country where two men of different races can call the same city home but yet
have such vastly different experiences that they may well have been separated by an
ocean. While there may be valid arguments on both sides, overwhelmingly there are also
invalid ones. The majority of these arguments, on both sides, seem to be rooted in trust
and whether or not the other party is deserving. Both are immensely fearful and
distrusting of the other, and neither is willing to look past their shared injurious
relationship for a kernel of good.
No Truce
In his essay, The Case for Reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates, in calling for a frank
discussion of how America has gotten to the point is today, states Won't reparations
divide us? Not any more than we are already divided. The wealth gap merely puts a
number on something we feel but cannot say that American prosperity was ill-gotten
and selective in its distribution. (Coates). In putting his case to find a solution, Coates
points out that reparations could mean any number of different outcomes that are more

than recompense for past injustices more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a
reluctant bribe. (Coates). But whatever those outcomes turn out to be they cannot begin
without a meeting of the minds, on the shameful history on which the country was built.
In all the seemingly good faith measures throughout the years to assuage its guilt;
beginning with the abolition of slavery and everything since, America has never been
willing to initiate and sustain that conversation. There has never been an offer of an
apology; an effort to acknowledge wrong-doing; or to admit that the country secured its
place as an industrial force on the backs of slave labour and the travesty that was the
slave trade. As such, no middling effort that is put forward can ever be actually seen in
good faith, but as a pacifier to hold over until the topic rears its head again.
At some point, there needs to be a truce for the collective consciousness to begin to heal.
On the one hand, descendants of slaves hear stories of the way their ancestors toiled,
and often paid the ultimate price to build a country; but on the other, those same
descendants must listen as their country tells them that those sacrifices didn't matter,
and don't count for anything. Such is the foundation that continues, with every new
generation, to foster the ongoing polarization.
Ignoring the problem
The separation and mistrust that have plagued America for centuries continue, in this
era, to do so. However, these are showing up in new and different ways that drives home
the fact that this issue is one that the country is content to overlook and ignore. Even
though the Bill of Rights begin with a phrase that is not open to interpretation, We hold
these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal..., the true meaning of
those words and the spirit in which they were intended have not been capable of
penetrating the systemic racial bias that continue to eat away at the fabric of the
country.

Even when efforts are put in place to find a solution, these are often done in such a way
that creates for harm than good. Policy decisions that seek to mend fences sometimes
have the opposite effect. For example, social safety nets that sought to right past wrongs
leads to the perception that Black Americans, at 12 percent of the population, are the
major takers and are ruining the system, How could that be? Also, affirmative action has
helped 5 million minority members and 6 million White and minority women move up in
the workforce. (Plous). And yet whenever those words, affirmative action, are heard it is
often with the insinuation the Black people are taking something that rightfully belong to
White people. In fact, affirmative action benefits everyone both Blacks and Whites,
therefore Blacks should not be the only ones bearing the negative burden of being the
major beneficiaries of the program.
Whether or not the policy-makers, as a party to the system of bias, anticipated the
negative outcome, many never be known but with only minimal success, these programs,
instead of advancing a solution to a problem only succeeded in increasing the scope of
that problem. The system of discrimination had been so thorough and in place for so
long, it was like the child's spinning top, which keeps on spinning even after you take
your hand away. (Fullinwider)
The overall result of these kinds of attitudes just added to the long list of ways in which
America diminishes the contribution of Black people to the economy, past and present.
Instead of dealing definitively with issues as they arise, minor problems are left to fester
until they turn into unmanageable fiascos. The general population should be made aware
that affirmative action policies and welfare programs are not a Black thing but an
everyone thing, instead of cementing public perceptions which in turn widen the racial
divide.
Conclusion

In order for America, as a thriving first world nation, to move forward and to continue as
it has successfully, it cannot continue to gloss over and ignore the most significant part
of its history and the main reason for its success. At some point, most likely when the
ruling class is directly and negatively affected, America will need to come to the
realization that temporary stop-gap measures cannot be used to solve a major problem;
a problem so vast that it took centuries to build and expand; and for which there has
never been any actual abatement. Stronger measures will be necessary and they may
not be seen as palatable by all. Are those strong measures, if they involve racial or
gender preferences, unfair to White men? Of course, they are. Well, doesn't that settle
the matter? It would if we could always be fair without sometimes being unfair.
(Fullinwider). But the question should be asked, are White men and their egos so fragile
that they cannot withstand just a portion of what was meted out to so many for so many
years? It would seem that for the greater good, this may just be what the country needs.

References
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. (2014). The case for reparations. The Atlantic.
http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-forreparations/361631/
Fullinwider, R.K. (n.d.). Affirmative Action and Fairness. Class notes.
Plous, S. (n.d.). Ten Myths about Affirmative Action. Class notes.
Founding, Fathers. "The Bill of Rights." N.d. MS. The Charters of Freedom. Web. 8 Apr.
2015.