By: Damion Townsend
On July 3rd, 2018 the Trump Administration rescinded yet another policy enacted under President Barack Obama. This time, it’s Affirmative Action. Aside from personal vendettas, namely undoing everything that is Obama, what does Trump’s action really mean? To understand its reversal, one should understand its definition. Cornell Law School says, Affirmative Action is a set of principles and procedures designed to both rectify and prevent discrimination. This was meant to directly affect the work place and educational institutions. President Kennedy was the first to introduce the terminology in 1961 under Executive Order 10951 – “The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin”. Over the years, the policy has come under much scrutiny and controversy, with those who oppose it citing that it does not fall in line with their egalitarian beliefs. Egalitarian is defined by Oxford as believing in or based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. Contrary to this belief however, are the facts.
The fact is that there exists a wage gap between black men vs white men with identical qualification. According to the Economic Policy Institute – black men make 22 percent less than white men and black women make 34.2 percent less than white men, with the same background in both cases. A research team at Northwestern University led by sociologist Lincoln Quillian wrote, “We observe no change in the level of hiring discrimination against African Americans over the last 25 years… Since 1989, whites receive on average 36 percent more callbacks (invitations to come in for an interview) than African Americans, and 24 percent more callbacks than Latinos.” With regard to how the policy serves individuals in the education arena, the Obama administration revamped the Affirmative Action policy in hopes of achieving diversity, primarily in post-secondary education. He said “ensuring that our nation’s students are provided with learning environments comprised of students of diverse backgrounds is not just a lofty ideal… These benefits greatly contribute to the educational, economic, and civic life of this nation”. When it was repealed, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law. That’s why we began rescinding guidance documents that were issued improperly or that were simply inconsistent with current law.”
While the effect of Affirmative Action has seldom been felt according to statistics, the presence of the policy has been a sign of good faith in the labor and educational sectors that efforts are being made to close the chasms of inequality that exist. This new development strikes a punishing blow to strides made in that direction.