What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear “Affirmative Action”? If words like
immediately come to mind, you may be confused with Legacy Admissions.
It’s about more than race, but it is always about race.
A brief history of Affirmative Action
1961 from John F. Kennedy, in order to ensure that employers who have a government contract take “affirmative action” to ensure applicants are employed regardless of race, creed, or national origin.
In 1965 this was extended to ensure “affirmative action” expanded opportunities to minorities for employers with government contracts.
In 1967, President Johnson extended the meaning again to include women.
In 1978 the Supreme Court in Regents upheld the use of race as ONE factor in choosing among QUALIFIED candidates for admission to the University of California
1997 the assault of Affirmative Action begins in California and we see 20+ years of fighting continue which leads to the dismantling of laws that provide equal opportunity among women and people of color.
Affirmative Action does not only affect people of color, in fact white women have benefited the most from affirmative action, just as they have in all civil rights and social justice movements. So why is it so heavily opposed by white women and other minority groups? First, patriarchy and privilege are not easily assuaged. Secondly, anti-blackness is baked into the fabric of US society. We see everyday how Black culture is monetized and stripped to be disseminated by other cultures, and yet Black people are not afforded the opportunity to capitalize on our own inventions and creations, and face astigmatism around those ideas.
So what is Affirmative Action really about? It is the rule that governs that organizations; whether educational, private, or public businesses; to employ historically marginalized individuals EQUITABLY. Affirmative Action allows for the use of race and other non-dominant identities as one additional positive factor for hiring and admission.
If an organization or school does not have an Affirmative Action policy and does not address equitable hiring and admission, then do not patronize or donate to that organization.
This includes State and Government organizations. This is beyond Equal Opportunity Employers. This is about equity. If opportunity and access gaps could be erased by changing individual hearts and minds, and not focusing on systemic level adjustments, then this would have been cleared up with a productive HR team. However, centuries worth of work has proven that it is not just about individual change. Systemic racism is as American as apple pie. We have to address inequities and inequalities at an organizational, systemic, and individual level.
What to look for
Be aware of sunsetting DEI initiatives
Who is leading the work
What do they do to ensure equity is centered for historically marginalized communities
Resources: History of Affirmative Action
HomeGrown LLC Website Authors: Nicole Andrews Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org