The Seattle Post Intelligencer has an opinion piece on how Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had no advantage being black and female respectively during the Democratic nomination. The writer describes how she has heard many people express that Barack Obama wouldn’t be where he is if he wasn’t black and how upsetting that is for her to hear.
I absolutely agree. There is this bullshit belief out there that if you are from an underrepresented group, there is no way you could have gotten there based on your own merits and you must have had help. Like it’s impossible for a black man to actually be good at anything as difficult as politics. Only white guys are good at that. “Inadequate black man” springs to mind as an example of this sentiment.
But I felt a need to comment on this editorial. I mean, wake up Mary (the editorialist), this has been happening for years outside of politics. I’m including my comment below to show the context for a response I got.
This is not limited to political campaigns. It exists all around us.
My sister has been told she only got into an exclusive university because of her race. I have been told I’ll have an easy time finding a job because so and so company cares about diversity. The people doing the telling are very nice but very clueless people. My sister for instance marked white on her college application.
I’m sure many other successful non-white males have been told the same thing in their lives. If it were up to me I would rather not have affirmative action, because I don’t think it’s worth the false impression that it gives. And truthfully, I would so love to have an advantage. I’d be all over cashing in the race card or the sex card if it really existed. But I’ve never found it to be so.
I don’t know how I could be more clear that it’s really offensive for people to tell me that I’m only where I am in life because I’m a minority and that it is doubly offensive because I never have received any benefit from it. Then I get this:
Daranee, that’s unfortunately the way they justify the decades of discrimination — calling it “reverse discrimination” — and pretending there’s actually a quantitative way to assess “qualified” applicants.
I can understand your feelings on AA, but make no mistake: Without it, you and I would probably be in bad shape.
I give up. I really do. Nice clueless people love to tell other people like me how great it is to be a minority. All these nice perks as if it’s a members only lounge anywhere you need it. Conversely, it’s probably just as offensive to tell unsuccessful white men how lucky they are too.
To the writer’s credit, perhaps she is more concerned with my radical suggestion that affirmative action isn’t worth the trouble. I can understand that. I don’t really know what I’m talking about when it comes to affirmative action (as I said I’ve never benefited from it), but I think it is a valid question to talk about the resentment it creates among some whites and how it balances with the benefits.