And Justice for Almost All

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Those beautiful words, written in our nations’ constitution, contain an idea that is essential to the experiment that is the United States of America.

No matter what party is holding office in Washington, our constitution remains the most liberal government document in the history of mankind. I believe in those words wholeheartedly and I am therefore in favor of the concept of affirmative action.

Unfortunately, the reality of daily life was very different for the majority of people in this country at the time those words were written. During that time, only white male property owners were allowed to vote, black slaves were considered 50 percent human and Native Americans were obstacles to our expansion.

Does any of this matter now? Of course it does. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution are still the benchmarks and the rule of law in this country.

Though many attempts have been made to right the wrongs that have been done to ethnic and religious minorities over the course of time, not much has changed.

As late as the 1960’s real estate agents, mortgage brokers, bank lenders and university administrators were encouraged or chose to deny African- Americans, Latinos, Pacific Islanders and many other ethnic minorities access to homeownership and college admissions.

It is difficult to accept, but the truth is that racial discrimination still exists even today. It is not systematic, but statistics show that it is still with us.

According to the Glass Ceiling Report, sponsored by congress in the late 1990s, in our nations largest companies, only 0.6 percent of senior management positions are held by blacks, 0.4 percent by Hispanics and 0.3 percent by Asians. Women hold between 3 and 5 percent of these jobs.

However, on the flip side, white men, making up 43 percent of the workforce, hold 95 percent of these jobs.

Blacks and Hispanics are twice or one half as likely, to be denied home loan applications as whites with the same qualifications.

Reverse discrimination is often cited as a reason for opposition to affirmative action. But, numbers show that less than 2 percent of the 91,000 employment discrimination cases pending before the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission are reverse discrimination cases.

Under law, anyone benefiting from affirmative action must have valid job and educational qualifications.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that he would not have been able to achieve what he has without affirmative action.

If you believe the system is faulty then work to fix it, but to deny the facts and get rid of it is reprehensible and disregards the spirit that our country was founded on.