affirmative action
0  /  100
4 Jul 2023
  • Website Development

Rethinking Equality: Beyond Affirmative Action's Limits

Start Reading
By Tyrone Showers
Co-Founder Taliferro


The Supreme Court's decision to dismantle affirmative action has sparked intense debate and raised profound questions about the efficacy and fairness of this policy. While affirmative action was initially implemented with the noble intention of rectifying historical injustices and promoting diversity, a closer examination reveals that its unintended consequences may have hindered its intended beneficiaries, particularly Black individuals. In this post, I will explore how the discontinuation of affirmative action may not necessarily be a detrimental development, as it has failed to address the underlying issues it sought to rectify.

Redefining the Beneficiary Pool

Affirmative action policies that targeted gender as a criterion led to a redefinition of the beneficiary pool, with white women emerging as major beneficiaries. By including white women within the scope of preferential treatment, affirmative action inadvertently shifted the focus away from the historically disadvantaged groups it was originally intended to support. As a result, the policy failed to address the specific challenges and barriers faced by racial and ethnic minorities, diluting the potential impact on achieving racial equity.

Reinforcing Existing Privileges

Affirmative action's disproportionate benefit to white women inadvertently reinforced existing privileges and power structures. While white women may face gender-based discrimination, they also benefit from white privilege, which positions them at an advantage compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Consequently, affirmative action inadvertently reinforced the social and economic advantages already enjoyed by white women, while failing to address the complex intersectional barriers faced by other underrepresented groups, particularly women of color.

The Indian Experience

India, a country with a sizable population of highly educated individuals, has witnessed a substantial number of its citizens immigrating to the United States. Affirmative action policies, particularly those that consider race or ethnicity as criteria for preferential treatment, have inadvertently resulted in an overrepresentation of Indian immigrants in educational institutions and professional fields. While Indian immigrants themselves may not have directly benefited from affirmative action policies, their descendants have gained access to educational and employment opportunities that may not have been available to them otherwise.

Unintended Impacts on Racial Diversity

Affirmative action's unintended impact on the Indian community raises questions about the policy's effect on racial diversity within institutions. While the goal of affirmative action is to foster diversity, an unintended consequence arises when certain ethnic or immigrant groups become disproportionately represented, potentially leading to a lack of representation and inclusion for other racial and ethnic groups. This complex interplay of unintended consequences highlights the need for careful evaluation and adjustment of affirmative action policies to ensure a fair and inclusive approach to achieving diversity and equality.

Perpetuating a Flawed System

Affirmative action, in its implementation, inadvertently perpetuated a flawed system. By focusing on race as the primary criterion for preferential treatment, the policy undermined the pursuit of meritocracy and overlooked other crucial factors such as socioeconomic background or individual potential. Consequently, this approach inadvertently created a cycle of perpetuating stereotypes and fostering a sense of dependency rather than empowerment among minority groups.

Tokenism and Stigmatization

While affirmative action aimed to promote diversity, it often resulted in tokenism and the stigmatization of underrepresented individuals. By designating individuals based solely on their race or ethnicity, affirmative action created a perception that the achievements of minority individuals were somehow diminished or undervalued, undermining their accomplishments and reinforcing negative stereotypes. This unfortunate consequence not only marginalized those who received preferential treatment but also hindered the broader goal of true equality.

Exacerbating Intra-Group Disparities

Paradoxically, affirmative action inadvertently exacerbated disparities within minority groups. By homogenizing the experiences and struggles of different racial or ethnic groups, the policy failed to acknowledge the complex interplay of socioeconomic factors within these communities. Consequently, individuals from affluent minority backgrounds were often favored over those from disadvantaged backgrounds, perpetuating existing socioeconomic inequalities and bypassing the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action.

Overlooking Intersectionality

One of the fundamental shortcomings of affirmative action was its failure to account for intersectionality—the overlapping identities and experiences of individuals. The policy predominantly focused on race as a singular factor, disregarding the complex interactions between race, gender, socioeconomic background, and other intersecting identities. As a result, many individuals facing multiple forms of discrimination remained overlooked and underserved by affirmative action, hindering their progress towards equality.

The Fallacy of Colorblindness

Affirmative action attempted to address historical racial injustices by employing race-conscious policies. However, this approach inadvertently reinforced the idea that race should be the central factor in determining opportunities and outcomes. Rather than moving towards a truly colorblind society, affirmative action's race-focused approach inadvertently perpetuated the significance of race in society, undermining the goal of equality.


While the discontinuation of affirmative action may initially be perceived as a setback, a more nuanced examination reveals that the policy's unintended consequences outweigh its intended benefits. Affirmative action's emphasis on race as the primary criterion inadvertently perpetuated a flawed system, fostering tokenism, stigmatization, and intra-group disparities. By overlooking intersectionality and undermining the pursuit of meritocracy, the policy failed to address the underlying systemic issues it sought to rectify.

To achieve true equality, it is essential to develop alternative approaches that address the complex factors contributing to socioeconomic disparities and systemic discrimination. These alternatives should promote diversity, empowerment, and individual potential, rather than perpetuating dependency and reinforcing negative stereotypes. The discontinuation of affirmative action presents an opportunity for society to engage in a more nuanced and comprehensive dialogue on how to dismantle barriers and create a fairer, more inclusive future for all.

Tyrone Showers