I'll preface this post by explaining a little bit about where I'm coming from. I'm neither black nor white, but I grew up in the South, at times experiencing discrimination because I wasn't white, other times immune to discrimination because I wasn't black. I think this has given me a unique perspective into the nature of discrimination and its effects on a person, so that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. How does this relate to personal finance? You shall see.
I had this discussion with a friend about affirmative action as we drove up to D.C. for spring break. Affirmative action is a pretty touchy subject, and rightly so. It lies close to our heart because it touches on a fundamental belief: fairness
I believe that within our generation (yes, we child of the 80's, see picture), affirmative action will disappear
. Does that mean racism or discrimination will disappear? Not necessarily. Everyone encounters some sort of discrimination throughout their life, but affirmative action is in place to address institutional discrimination
, not personal discrimination.
Nowadays, even in the most conservative professions, institutional discrimination is waning. Take a look at the elite colleges - minority students are taking top leadership positions left and right. My alma mater, a top 20 university, has had a minority student as the Student Government Association president for the past 3 years, perhaps longer since I don't know who the president was before then. It hasn't even been the same minority - we've had a black male, Asian female, and Indian male. While most of the current leadership in the corporate or political world is overwhelmingly white male, as these people retire and take their prejudices with them, the leaders of our generation will rise to these roles, regardless of race
Another reason why affirmative action will disappear: discrimination is very unpopular and un-PC. In fact, most people will go out of their way to not
seem prejudiced. I currently attend a school in the South, and a good proportion of the students are fairly conservative. But nowadays, conservative does not necessarily mean racist or narrow-minded. We had an election for a class officer at the beginning of the year, and a black student won, even though less than 10% of our class is black. Just look at the current leaders in campaign fundraising. Who would've thought this would ever happen a generation ago?
Ok, so how does this all tie into personal finance?
Affirmative action is holding back minorities much like wealthy parents who give their adult children financial outpatient care. Financial outpatient care is when parents provide financial assistance to their adult children. In The Millionaire Next Door
, they discuss this situation and prove how financial outpatient care is a roadblock to the financial independence of their children because the children never learn fiscal responsibility. In much the same way, affirmative action only creates a nagging doubt in the back of a person's head about why he or she got a position, which creates a roadblock to realizing unquestionable self-confidence
The great leaders of the civil rights era must realize that we are in a different era and affirmative action is slowly losing its purpose. No longer are we judged by the color of our skin but by the way we dress, the way we talk, and the way we carry ourselves. As the Bee Gees once said - you can tell by the way I use my walk, I'm a woman's man
Let the debate begin. Any non-derogatory comments are welcome.