A review of Richard Rodriquez's article "None of This is Fair."
|Essayist Richard Rodriguez points out the irony of America’s Affirmative Action in his piece, “None of This is Fair.” He explains how his Mexican-American ethnicity grants him many opportunities due to his determination to become an English professor (p. 526). The benefit of Affirmative Action allows him to gain entrance into prestigious schools as a “minority student” and encourages his quick graduation from Stanford, Columbia, and Berkeley (p. 526). A “Chicano with a Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature” (p. 527), Rodriguez receives teaching invitations from many schools, one of which is Yale . Despite his many accomplishments, he feels a sense of guilt. A fellow white peer with the same academic records who applied to the same school was ignored; his letter was not even recognized (p. 528). His confrontation with his peer leads him to a realization of the “unfairness” (p. 529) of Affirmative Action.
What is Affirmative Action? It is a program in the United States that ensures special considerations of minorities in job hiring, education, and awards of government contracts. The minority consists of less recognized groups in ethnicity, religion, and sex. The goal of Affirmative Action was to guarantee equality between all citizens of America, both in rights and opportunities. Affirmative Action occurred when discrimination against groups was acknowledged and measures were taken to give assurances to the public that the paths to success for all were equal. The Affirmative Action program gave Richard Rodriguez a superb education, many teaching opportunities, and invitations to Washington conferences (p. 526). Through it all, he felt the ‘irony’ behind the motive of Affirmative Action and felt guilt because of his acceptance of the benefits (p.526). “The disadvantages of others permitted my promotion; the absence of many Mexican-Americans from academic life allowed my designation as a “minority student” ” (p. 526). “A few times I quietly wondered what advantage my race had given me over other applicants” (p. 527). The fact that his race alone gave him a “foot inside the door” (p. 527) ahead of other equally capable candidates who just happened to be white, struck him as ironic. A program meant to establish equality, the “Affirmative Action programs are unfair to white students” (p. 529). The system only recognizes the difficulty that many minority students face in life instead of improving it. The minorities who benefit from it are the “middle-class students who come armed with the testimony of their grades and aptitude scores and self-confidence to complain about the unequal treatment they... receive” (p. 529). Many whites are being robbed of their chances to succeed, such as Jews. “Once there were quotas to keep...[their]...parents out of certain schools; now there are quotas to get...[minorities]...in and the effect on...[Jews today]...is the same as it was for...[Jews before]” (p. 529). Whites are lumped together and the “seriously disadvantaged, not simply Mexican-Americans, but...all...white, black, brown...lack the confidence...to assume their right to a good education” (p. 529). Affirmative Action does not help those without the confidence, although it is angled towards them. It does not make them any more equal than before. “The debate drones on and [only] surrounds them in stillness” (p. 529).