pacing the void

Goldenson's position on affirmative action misses the point of the policy


I'm responding to Mark Joseph Goldenson's mistaken interpretation of Affirmative Action in his April 11 column.

First, he confuses an affirmative mandate for action (" ... [the policy] requires employers to provide ... opportunities ... ") with a negative mandate for inaction ("the state shall not discriminate ... ").

The difference is huge.

Affirmative Action requires employers to make a special effort to seek out qualified women and minority candidates from previously excluded groups to ensure a diverse pool of applicants from which they will hire (to paraphrase UA policy).

Goldenson then argues that, "If I claim I will hire the most qualified candidates for a job, I am offering an equal opportunity to all." Not necessarily. Where did he advertise the job? The Wall Street Journal? Indian Country Today? Black Enterprise? Hispanic Business? Executive Female? Asian Sun News? Did he call the Minority Bar Associations, a Hispanic business leader, or his "former white roommate" to ask for recommendations from their communities?

Without taking some kind of affirmative steps to attract a diverse applicant pool, he may not truly be providing an equal opportunity to all qualified persons.

The logic in this plan is that if women and minorities are given an equal opportunity to compete for jobs, in the absence of discrimination, some of these applicants from under represented groups will be hired. Since America's governments, universities, and business and entertainment industries are still predominantly male and predominantly white, this country still has a long way to go before it shakes off the lingering effects of slavery, anti-Asian, anti-Mexican and anti-Indian policy.

Goldenson goes on to claim that discrimination means "preferred or favored treatment." Does he really believe that an interracial couple receives preferred treatment when they are turned away from a vacant apartment only to see a white couple move in, or a Mexican person receives favored treatment when the police stop him and ask him to open the lock on his bicycle to prove it's not stolen?

I'm glad he admits that discrimination still continues, because recognizing and acknowledge discrimination must be the first step towards eradicating it.

By Sarah Youngblood (letter)
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 18, 1997

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