Ignorance hurts civil rights

Affirmative action policies mean to include all people and to give those who are not warranted, the opportunity to achieve past the boundaries of man. I do not think that President Kennedy would be pleased with the ignorance of Americans today. I think that he would be gravely disappointed to know that all of his efforts to unite Americans have been futile. Kennedy’s executive order declared that federal contractors should take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and employees are treated fairly during their employment without regard to race, creed or national origin.

Employment discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex was first prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although women were rarely legally barred from jobs or education, many universities would not admit them and many employers would not hire them. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination in public accommodations and employment, was the first modern legislation to address these barriers. A section of the act known as Title VII, which specifically banned discrimination in employment, laid the groundwork for the subsequent development of affirmative action.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, created by the civil rights Act of 1964, and the office of Federal Contract Compliance became important enforcement agencies for affirmative action.

My understanding so far, of what affirmative action was implemented for, was not solely focused on a racial basis. It amazes me how so many students and people are blinded by their ignorant stereotypes and are unaware of the future that they could possibly have – none. People have been wrongfully informed for so long and opinions, not facts, have been passed down from generation to generation, that people have started to consume these untruths as facts.

A lot of the basic education that most people have has stemmed from some form of parenting. This is a given, but the whole point of an institutional education is to learn right from wrong and to gain a sense of culture and diversity. Geology, geography, mathematics, science, English … All of these subjects are to educate us about the world around us. The purpose is to teach us that we are not the only people in the world and that we are not invincible.

Affirmative action does not mean that under-educated lower socio-economic and ethnic groups are allowed into schools totally based on a quota. Affirmative action gives everyone the opportunity and chance to gain a much more advanced education and opens doors to more employment opportunities.

Now, let’s say you are a young lady who just graduated from high school. You graduated magna cum laude. That is wonderful! But, say that a fellow classmate only graduated with a grade point average of 3.0. Not so bad, but definitely not as great as your status. However, he/she had 150 volunteer hours at the nearby nursing home, held a part-time job for their junior and senior year, was captain of the cheerleading team and a tutor for three math students. Whom do you think a college would choose, the more active, but obviously less intelligent student, or the one who only had a 4.0 GPA?

Now I know why I marched to the Lincoln Memorial on April 1. I marched for the many ignorant people that our society still births almost four decades later. I have yet to meet one black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or any other ethnic member that did not earn at least a grade point average of 3.5 all throughout their high school career. That goes without mention of the many extra-curricular activities that they carried along with their five- to eight-course schedule.

We are in a new era. This is a new millennium. Release the ignorance, and take hold of a new attitude and new perspective on life, people! We are in a time and need for unification, not separation. This is a time of war and we all need to be on one accord. We have come a long way from a white-male-dominated society and we need not revert to the times of women, children or ethnic groups being silenced. Be informed Americans, not ignorant.