As more radical efforts are being announced from the Oval Office, one thing is becoming clear: both parties know what they should be fighting for, and it’s usually the same for both.
In a previous article, we argued that the far right markets itself as an equality fighter and uses other reasoning to justify its blatantly discriminatory policy moves. So it’s not a surprise that when the Trump administration announced on August 1 that the Justice Department plans to investigate universities for admissions policies that discriminate against white applicants, they emphasized that they would be fighting “intentional race-based discrimination.”
It seems obvious to people on the left that they are doing the exact opposite of that. Affirmative Action policies are in place to fight discrimination, to rectify past and present oppression of minority groups, and to produce more diverse campuses and companies. But the right is arguing that these policies exclude white applicants despite their merit, socioeconomic status, etc., often discriminating against poor whites. I have seen and heard many Republicans arguing that being a white conservative qualifies as a minority now, and that it’s difficult to express conservative beliefs without being bullied or attacked by the aggressive left.
The right think discrimination has flipped with policies like Affirmative Action to now discriminate against whites, and because of this, they believe they’re still fighting for diversity and equality.
So, equality efforts need to be revamped, re-branded, and re-marketed. Right now, mainstream equality efforts focus very much on the empowerment of minorities, defeating white privilege, and emphasizing the importance of diversity in academic and professional settings. But there is not enough focus on the facts behind the policies like Affirmative Action.
These facts are that minorities are still oppressed, that white privilege still exists, and that because of 350+ years of slavery and discrimination in the U.S. alone, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 19th Amendment in 1920 did not just automatically place minorities on equal footing with groups deemed “superior” for most of history. It will take a very long time to change ideology so deeply held, and to actually have the same opportunities provided to every single person in America regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc. This has not been communicated effectively to the far right, and in my opinion, this is the reason why they believe Affirmative Action to be discriminatory. They are not denying the atrocities of slavery and Jim Crow, nor are they claiming their ancestors to be innocent of discriminating against minority groups. They just don’t see discrimination against minorities now. They only see Affirmative Action and other diversity-advocating causes, and believe that minorities are now given privileges they do not have.
Once these facts about diversity are recognized, both parties should be on the same page about what it is, why it’s important, and how to get there. History has shown us that people are willing to take responsibility for crimes committed, such as in the American slavery example. Of course, as I said in my article on white privilege, the key is not to attack white folks. That will have adverse effects. But by re-branding equality respectfully, with the right rhetoric and facts, eventually I can see all parties on the same page, actually fighting for the same thing.