In a recent Northerner, a front-page article titled “Affirmative action: Campus groups gathered in support” included these words, quoted from an attorney for the National Conference for Community and Justice: “Affirmative action is one of the tools of remedying a historical injustice.”
I am pro-affirmative action, but not for the reason quoted above; in fact, the “historical injustice” explanation I find inaccurate and a turn-off, the leading cause of misunderstanding and negative feelings about affirmative action.
The “historical injustice” explanation causes many to think that affirmative action is “reverse discrimination,” discriminating now against whites to compensate for the “historical” discrimination against blacks. These white people ask: Why should we be punished or discriminated against for something we had nothing to do with? That is a legitimate question.
But affirmative action is not so much about the past as it is about the present