Affirmative action






This time we will discuss a sensitive subject at the crossroads of two cultures, the affirmative action. According to most French, it’s only a total Yankee figment to fight against the racism of a system with racial aid. If this is not some american communitarianism, I do not know what is. Actually dear inhabitants of the hexagon, everything is more complicated than it sounds. To better understand the concept of ​​affirmative action, we must go back to the end of the apartheid in the mid-60s in America. And yes I know, some 50 years ago there was a separation between blacks and whites in the country of Barack Obama. I hear you, "How was this possible within this nation that claims to be the mother of freedom?". In fact segregation saw the coexistence of two systems, one for whites and one for blacks. No don’t try a third system for Latinos, it is already difficult enough. So the two communities had their own schools, churches, and rarely mixed. Officially everyone were free but the reality was different.


The famous brown vs board of education and a certain Rosa Park ended this Apartheid. If the second is quite well known in France for refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a bus, the first judgment went unnoticed. This is a judgment dating from 1954, a black lawyer named Thurgood Marshall managed to denounce and especially to prove the crime that was segregation. He pleaded before the Supreme Court in this way: He presented black children with two dolls, one white and one black. Assisted by a doctor, he asked questions, "which is the white doll and which is the black doll? which one is the nice doll? So far no problem, except that the white doll was always the children’s favorite. Then came the third question: “Which doll is most like you? ". And the response was overwhelming, some refused to answer the other showed the white doll. The result was a color denial, the children yet so young and innocent, were ashamed of their color.


Our supreme court met and had to answer this question:

"Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? »


The response of the Supreme Court was unequivocal, 9 judges answered unanimously as one unified nation, 5 words, just 5 little words that would transform our nation forever and open a new way, more equal, fairer, with a better respect of the American values: "We Believe that It does”. For that answer, segregation was considered unacceptable because it showed an unacceptable inequality, not material this time but more treacherous, mental.


So, you may say, with the end of segregation in the US, if the law gave the possibility for everyone to be equal, if the institutions were no longer making any differences between colors, why practice Affirmative action? Still, we do need to be more precise, the French term “positive discrimination” is a nonsense, I hope you will agree on that. Discrimination is negative and you add it to a positive term, how can we turn these negative actions into positive ones, can’t we? In America the correct term is: affirmative action. The fact is that we compromise more than you do, let me explain, this is not because the law said one thing it will apply, it was necessary to create a positive action to change what the law can’t change: attitudes. It was a positive action, an affirmative action, not a positive discrimination.


President Lyndon B.Johnon said:

"You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: 'now, you are free to go where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.' You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, "you are free to compete with all the others," and still justly believe you have been completely fair... This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.".


The end of this quote sums up the idea of affirmative action or at least brings enough. In fact in America when we recognized the evils of segregation, it was important to create a new model or at least the important thing for us is not so much the law, but as always the result through concrete facts. It was necessary to recognize evil, to change the law, but this was not enough! It's not because you say something that everyone has to do it, right? I won’t teach that matter to some French, Will I ? We had to change attitudes, so the practice could follow.


You see contrary to French perceptions, this concept is not intended to end poverty but to allow minorities to have a normal life, to show that it was normal and common for these minorities to be like everyone else, to go to the same places that everyone. Thus, thanks to affirmative action, the americans could see blacks and other minorities in public companies, in the army, on television with shows like Star Trek the original series, this action rendered as normal, ordinary, having a skin color other than white. So of course we talked about a “white” lost generation in scholarships, in some cases this was true, but it was necessary. That is why America has become what it is today.


The affirmative action or positive discrimination if you like, although that term sounds more like an anti-Americanism but let’s move on, was a necessary evil, see a way, an action for results and not as some here would like to designate as an entire law. No one really had to meet its quota, but the fact is that the minorities could access positions previously reserved for whites and as a result make segregation unacceptable in the eyes of all Americans. It ended the separation.