Diversity by Affirmative Action

EqualityDiversity in top professions takes a nosedive: Still think we don’t need Affirmative Action?
By David A. Love, Black Commentator, 2013 [Edited]

Affirmative action foes such as UCLA law professor Richard Sander claim affirmative action hurts African Americans by creating a ”mismatch”— placing them in elite universities where they are outmatched in standardized [to WHITE] test scores, causing them to underperform and fail.

Scholars have debunked this myth, showing that students of color at elite colleges outperform their counterparts at less competitive institutions, earn advanced degrees at rates comparable to Whites, while more involved in community and civic life. The glass ceiling continues to break and new milestones are made as we climb the white ladder of success.

Yet, despite the progress America has made in diversifying its workforce and its management ranks, the country is backsliding.

African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the Great Recession, and to make things worse, since the economic downturn, it appears diversity has not been a priority for employers. For those who care about racial inclusion in the professional world, the news is downright discouraging.

Disappointing data across the board

For example, although 12 percent of America’s workforce is African American, only slightly more than 1 percent of all Fortune 500 companies have African American CEOs. About 3.2 percent of senior positions at the largest corporations are held by Black people. Five percent of doctors and dentists and 3 percent of architects are African-American.

According to the National Association of Black Journalists, the number of journalists of color is on the decline, with African American journalists as the most severely impacted. Over the past decade, nearly 1,000 workers in newsrooms have lost their jobs, greater than any minority group. And about 1 in 3 newsroom jobs lost was held by a journalist of color. Only 12 percent of the newsroom management are people of color.

Moreover, in 2010 the number of people of color in law firms fell for the first time, accounting for 12.4 percent of lawyers nationwide. People of color account for 6.16 percent of partners in major law firms. It is unacceptable to have a disproportionately white legal profession, with a criminal justice system that largely incarcerates African Americans.

While we face daunting barriers in the upper echelons of the private sector, we are being jammed in the entry level positions as well, a cause for much concern.

Those who are on the outside looking in are faced with a number of challenges, including the unfair stigma of inferiority that comes with being a “diverse” candidate, or a so-called “affirmative action hire”, and the segregation of social circles, which prevents young professionals from receiving the support, mentorship and acceptance they need in moving up the white corporate ladder.

Affirmative action has been defined as,

“any measure, beyond simple termination of a discriminatory practice, adopted to correct or compensate for past or present discrimination or to prevent discrimination from recurring in the future.”

The case for affirmative action

Johnson laid out the rationale for the affirmative action in 1965 at the Howard University commencement exercises. “Nothing is more freighted with meaning for our own destiny than the revolution of the Negro American,” Johnson said. “In far too many ways [African Americans] have been another nation: deprived of freedom, crippled by hatred, the doors of opportunity closed to hope.”

He added: “But freedom is not enough. You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please. You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.”

But over the years, policies that seek diversity have been vilified and mischaracterized as “quota” systems and reverse discrimination against whites. These programs have attempted to expand the pie, to open up opportunities to those who were traditionally locked out of opportunity.

Although the U.S. has come a long way when it comes to diversity, the job is not finished. The recent statistics on African Americans in the top professions demonstrate that affirmative action is needed.

Source: http://aframnews. com/diversity-in-top-professions-takes-a-nosedive-still-think-we-dont-need-affirmative-action/


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