Opportunity key to parity

Editor:

It is always amazing to me the response that affirmative action stirs up. I am not going to engage in a discussion about the value of diversity in current times or attack the views of James P. Tripodes ("Affirmative Action creates separation," Oct. 11) I respect his right to have them. However, I find his analysis and by extension the rhetoric of anti-affirmative action advocates very troubling and misguided.

The fact is, we live in a racist and classist society. I don't like it but it affects me as a woman of color. Racial lines exist in this country witness the Simpson verdict, the case of Ariel Valenzuela and the Tucson Police Department's actions on South Sixth Avenue every weekend; affirmative Action and the Civil Rights movements did not create these situations. Affirmative action allows opportunity, an opportunity which has been historically denied women and people of color, however, it is important to realize that these opportunities are not foreign to the white male, nor have they been throughout time. Legacies, fraternities, old boy networks, nepotism these opportunities are alive and well in today's society and have been. Affirmative action is a means towards allowing traditionally underrepresented people an opportunity, nothing more.

We all benefit in one way or another from the programs established under affirmative action and we will all suffer should affirmative action be dismantled. Parity aside, it is our responsibility as citizens to take an active role in protecting and ensuring opportunity to all. Should we fail to ensure the equal opportunity of each segment of our society, we will be ensuring the degeneration of our society. Perhaps lawmakers and concerned individuals should consider that.

E. Liane Hernandez

Art History Graduate Student and Member, Walk-Out Committee

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