NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Affirmative Action: Good Intentions with Bad Results


“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a fundamentally noble and just goal for a nation to strive for. After all, none of us can control the circumstances of our upbringing. We are unable to choose the resources and supplements that we receive during our childhood that ultimately shape the students — and people — we become.  

Those of us who were blessed with the resources to afford better education, whether that be through private schooling or tutoring, are ultimately able to succeed academically with far more ease. It is through this logic that it makes sense for universities to factor in students’ backgrounds, personal experiences, and financial circumstances when it comes to college admissions. This gives the less fortunate an equal opportunity to an education, so that society does not become stratified. 

However, while this logic may apply to the way we were raised and how well off our parents were, one thing it absolutely cannot apply to is race. While it may sound as though race-based affirmative action is a benefit for the different groups living together in the United States, its long-term effects and symbolism carry severe consequences.  

To understand those consequences, we must look into the darkness and ignorance that shrouded the minds of racist groups in the past. Phrenology is a pseudoscience based on the idea that people are in different leagues of intelligence based upon the shape of their skulls. This pseudoscience has been disproven by scientists multiple times, and we now recognize it as completely ridiculous racist dogma.  

In the past, however, many people, especially colonizers, took the ideas of phrenology seriously. They used its backwards theories as justification to commit heinous actions in the past. These included claiming that Native Americans deserved to have their lands stolen and that Africans deserved to be enslaved due to the shapes of their skulls, which supposedly indicated that they were “inferior to the white man.” 

Due to this widespread public acceptance of phrenology, these atrocities were able to take place with very few people rejecting it. Such groups would often sugarcoat their words by spouting beliefs such as “it is our duty to help these ‘lesser’ people through colonization and enslavement,” which allowed people to think their racist actions were justified.  

While we all recognize the ideas of phrenology to be both completely heinous and undoubtedly false in the modern day, that hasn’t stopped it from reappearing in different forms. The notion that race is an inherently debilitating factor that must be considered in college admissions is one of these forms. While it may work to the benefit of minority groups right now, giving us an edge when it comes to college admissions, it can very well work against us one day using the same logic. Today, universities state that some races inherently need a boost to match other races in terms of academic performance. Tomorrow, companies will deny people of different ethnicities the right to work for them, stating that they are inherently unqualified for those positions.  

If we are to bring about a lasting end to racism, we must end it on all fronts. This includes preventing it from sinking its depraved roots into the minds of future generations as it disguises itself as progress. Ending race-based affirmative action does not mean discounting the struggles that people faced in their upbringing. Rather, it is ending the notion that the color of one’s skin is an innate hindrance to academic intelligence. 

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Ali Jamil, Contributing Writer
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