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The Trashing of Dr. King’s Dream

kingToday being the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech it’s appropriate to revisit part of that speech and see how his dream has progressed.  The full transcript of his speech can be read here.  I am going to focus on one tiny part.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Have we as a society reached the point where we do not judge people based on the color of their skin?  One need look no further than at all the affirmative action programs in the last fifty years to see the answer is clearly no.  Racial preferences are nothing more than judging people based on the color of their skin.  But, there are different opinions about the need for and effectiveness of affirmative action.  Here are just a few pros and cons that I have found on affirmative action programs:

Eliminate It

  1. Affirmative action leads to reverse discrimination.
  2. Affirmative action lowers standards of accountability.
  3. Students admitted based on affirmative action programs are often ill-equipped to handle the schools to which they’ve been admitted.
  4. It is condescending to minorities to say they need affirmative action to succeed.
  5. It demeans true minority achievement.  Success is labeled a result of affirmative action instead of hard work and true ability.

Keep It

  1. Diversity is desirable and won’t occur if left to chance.
  2. Students and workers starting at a disadvantage need a boost.
  3. Special preferences needs to be given to minorities to make up for years of discrimination.
  4. Affirmative action is needed to break stereotypes.

My own opinion is that affirmative action programs should not exist.  Giving someone advantage based on skin color means you are giving disadvantage to someone who might have greater abilities or achievement.  Decisions on admission, employment, promotion, etc. should be based solely on ability and achievement. 

There are, of course, many who believe affirmative action programs are needed and should stay in place.  To those people I would say, you are trashing Dr. King’s dream.  If you truly believe in the ideals he espoused in his speech then you cannot support affirmative action.  His dream and affirmative action are inconsistent.  If you favor affirmative action then you are one of the people to whom Dr. King was speaking.  Fifty years later, you are still keeping his dream from becoming reality.


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