FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Affirmative Action for the White Minority

by MATEO PIMENTEL

I have heard my Nana’s stories about how her grade school teachers in El Paso, Texas. They beat her and locked her in broom closets because she did not speak English. I have heard my Tata’s recollections about how Jim Crow. He couldn’t sit in certain parts of the movie theatre, sleep in certain barracks, or even swim in the pools same as the white folks could. Apparently, Mexicans in Phoenix were relegated to prayer in the Basilica basement at some point. Even my dad felt some strife. His college baseball coach wouldn’t hit him grounders during practice because he was “just a stupid Mexican.”

It remains painfully obvious that there is work to be done. And even though racism and discrimination clearly persist, society’s make-up is much different from decades past. Luckily, affirmative action programs continue to arm us with ways to combat the social, bigoted ills of old, and they are more far-reaching than ever. That’s why – even in this day in age – we don’t just owe it to ourselves to shore-up the affirmative action front; we owe it to future generations of white men and women too.

If you look up “affirmative action” on Wikipedia, you’ll promptly spy the fact that President John F. Kennedy first employed the term in his Executive Order 10925, signed on March 6, 1961. Four years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed his own order (11246), requiring government agencies to heed the ethos of affirmative action when it came time to hire employees. Discriminating against race, religion or nation of origin was to have no place in government. Gender was eventually added in 1976. This was the protean step. But fast-forward some 50 years, and, for the first time in the history of the United States, racial and ethnic minorities constitute more than half of all births. It is safe to say that, in a matter of decades, ‘white’ will become ‘minority’.

Hopefully more affirmative action opponents will take this swing in demographics for the good news that it is. Hopefully, then, they will reconsider affirmative action’s conception, and set their hand to the plowshare to find ways to secure and promote it. If an opponent should be white, they might reconsider there stance – if nothing else, at least for the sake of their grandchildren.

There’s more. In a 1995 “Report to the President,” Bill Clinton found both the history and rationale of affirmative action summarized. Subsection 2.1 ‘Background’ (of section 2 – ‘Affirmative Action: History and Rationale’) states that “…affirmative action programs [are] best understood as an outgrowth and continuation of our national effort to remedy subjugation of racial and ethnic minorities and of women…” Simply put, our nation suffers because it subjugates racial and ethnic minorities, and women. But we are doing something about it! And that thing we’re doing is affirmative action.

Sure, spite might crop up amongst those of us who have in some way, shape or form benefitted. Some will even say, “Hey, how about all the folks – many of whom are white – who are not fans of affirmative action. Nay, they are not even capable of describing it; they are, in fact, among its most fervent enemies. Why should we preserve it for their benefit?” But before those of us who understand affirmative action turn our backs on it so hastily, let us peek one more time at Clinton’s 1995 report, and remind ourselves why – as we await the minoritization of whites – that we ought continue fighting tooth and nail for it.

The 1995 “Report to the President” reminds us that for a good deal of this century, “racial and ethnic minorities and women” faced both “legal and social exclusion.” Blacks and Latinos/Hispanics were “segregated into low wage jobs, usually agricultural.” It was actually illegal for Asian Americans to own land, or work “fields to which they could not hold title.” Women (white women, too, of course) were “barred by laws in many states from entering entire occupations, such as mining, fire fighting, bartending, law, and medicine.” Some public education institutions even legally barred Asian Americans and Latinos/Hispanics from even attending. And women were “systematically excluded from some private and state funded colleges, universities, and professional schools well into the 1970s.”

As today’s minorities, we face an interesting dilemma. We have the privilege to weigh-in, take the rains, and bring a healthy and righteous perspective to the future of affirmative action. But those who oppose it today might just be the next victims of such social, legal and gender-based exclusion that our forbearers have suffered. It is time to use the tools we have to fix the situation for all future minorities. It is time to reaffirm affirmative action, especially for whites who would not do it for themselves.

Mateo Pimentel lives in the southern Andes region of Perú.

Mateo Pimentel lives on the Mexican-US border. You can follow him on Twitter @mateo_pimentel.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail