Affirmative action is necessary

This letter is in response to Austen Morris’ stupefying argument against affirmative action in the Jan. 27 opinion column “Abandon academic affirmative action.” Incredibly, Morris equates affirmative action programs to institutional racism, when in fact institutional racism is the very thing affirmative action attempts to correct!

Consider an example of actual institutional discrimination as it relates to the University of Michigan case Morris references. Funding for public schools is to a large degree based on local property taxes. Property taxes are generally assessed as a portion of the value of the property. Racial minorities, being the victims of gross economic inequalities, are much more likely to live in poor neighborhoods and thus have lower property taxes. As a result, their schools have less funding for teachers, computers and textbooks. This leads to minority children receiving, in general, lower-quality education.

How can we expect minority children to compete effectively against their white counterparts when their education is consistently underfunded? This is a question that affirmative action programs in education attempt to address.

Programs such as the University of Michigan’s admissions policy seek to break the cycle of real institutional discrimination by giving minorities a chance to improve their stance in society. In turn, their children will hopefully have educational opportunities similar to those of white children, which will move us closer to being a truly race-neutral society.

To those who do not think affirmative action programs are necessary, I would ask how racial inequalities continue to persist. If minorities truly receive equal opportunity, why is it then that the income gap between whites and most minorities has not significantly decreased?

Surely no reasonable person would contend these inequalities are a natural result of racial inferiority, so what other explanation remains, aside from that of the reality of institutional racism?

Timothy Nault, junior, CLA