I have been discriminated against, which has caused my self-esteem to fall, and now I am stuck, with few role models to follow. Bill's success has probably been thwarted by more sources than the today's average black or female, but there is no provision in preferential hiring for him. Just like no one can control his or her race or skin color, Bill's obesity is caused by a medical problem beyond treatment. Selective preferential hiring won't work. Even if one doesn't accept the fact that preferential hiring discriminates against the white male, one must accept the fact that preferential hiring discriminates against Bill (Cordes, 1994).
Now let's assume that this argumentation is invalid for one reason or another. Let's assume the lack of self-confidence and self-respect that today's blacks and women are suffering from may deserve some compensation. But before continuing, it seems necessary to narrow the range of who qualifies for compensation for suffering. The issue at hand concerns today's blacks and today's women. Today's society is not responsible for incidents preceding its own existence. Other opinions may not coincide with this belief, but I do not feel any responsibility for the positive or negative actions of my grandfather or my father. However, as a member of society I will take responsibility for the positive or negative actions of society today. For example, today's society is not responsible for blacks or women's lack of voting rights years ago. If for some reason we were responsible, how could this possibly be repaid? Make a black or female vote count two or three times? No, this is preposterous. We have canceled our debts, simply by giving them a right to vote and a say in the election of their representatives. Now that is not to say that today's society is not responsible for the discrimination of blacks and women in recent years. but, even prior to the lifetime of those that would be most affected by preferential hiring: both blacks and women have had the right to vote; discrimination based on race, color, religion, or sex has been illegal; segregation has ended; and the civil rights movement has taken place. Clearly, we live in a different United States than our predecessors. Today's blacks and women may still experience some repercussions of discrimination, but for decades laws have...
The bottom line - if someone discriminates against a black today, charges could easily be filed. Preferential treatment cannot be given to victims of all crimes. It would become chaotic trying pin the level of preference a victim should get for different crimes (Rutherglen, 2007; Rooth).
If all blacks and females have, as a consequence of their past lack of rights, suffered a lack of self-confidence and self-respect, then why preferentially give them jobs? Jobs have no direct correlation to a lack of self-respect and self-confidence. Indirectly, yes, maybe many blacks and women have not been able to achieve their highest goals due to this lack of self-confidence and are therefore handicapped when they enter the job market. Over hiring, or hiring because of a past wrong, however, does not solve the issue. It seems too superficial of a solution to simply give blacks and women preference when it comes to hiring. Certainly it would not bolster my self-confidence to know that I received a job over another equally qualified individual, simply due to my skin color or sex. I would feel as if again race and sex were dominating decisions. Wasn't the original goal to eliminate the issue of skin color and sex from all decisions?
It may be idealistic to suggest that we bury the issue of race? However, overt discrimination is waning. It has become a clear and enforceable crime to discriminate. There is no reason to believe that anyone, in today's society, cannot achieve whatever he or she wish. Hard work and diligence will pay off and eventually race and gender will no longer be issues. The goal is to make race and sex irrelevant, and preferential hiring only keeps these issues alive. Let's try to live in a society modeled after Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream, and I believe the issues of race and sex will disappear, leaving people to be judged solely on their character, skills, and ability to perform within a learning, teaching, or business environment.
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Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1298242 or DOI: 10.1111/j.0042-7092.2007.00700.x
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