Reverse discrimination is the term that is commonly used to describe the disadvantages that white people experience as a result of implementation of policies established to promote affirmative action as well as equal employment opportunities to all people regardless of their race, color, religion and gender. Many scholars refer to reverse discrimination as to affirmative discrimination, race preference, or simply discrimination (Fullinwider, 1998). The main problem envisaged by adherents of reverse discrimination is that the effort to improve the predicament of disadvantaged groups has consistently worked against them, in the sense that they only have few opportunities that are available to them despite possessing outstanding qualifications and perfect credentials.
In other words, the term reverse discrimination has been associated with reserving of various employment positions for minority groups in areas such as corporate promotions, admissions in educational institutions, and rehiring people from black communities with lower job standards compared to whites. The claim that reverse discrimination violates the equal protection clause of the Civil Rights Act as well as the Fourteenth Amendment has consistently been the reason of contradicting doctrines by the members of the United States Supreme Court. The scenario of reverse discrimination occurs where people from the white community perceive that they are more disadvantaged as a result of affirmative action. The term reverse discrimination was coined in 1960’s, and since then, it has been retained by the critics of affirmative action. The US Laws regard employment discrimination as unethical; therefore, it is illegal for any employer to discriminate employment of an individual because of his or her race, nationality, religion, color, age, or disability.
On the other hand, equal employment laws can be regarded as legitimate, since they are usually based on compensatory justice. Additionally, they can be considered as legal because they are based on morally legitimate technique to morally legitimate ends and they facilitate the progress of rectifying the consequences of past discrimination. Thus, the policy of affirmative action does not in any way create reverse discrimination or disparity in the majority, class as proponents of reverse discrimination always claim. This is because the main reason why affirmative action policy was implemented was to terminate the historical injustices that had existed for a long time (Beckwith & Jones, 1997). Such historical injustices were widely experienced in countries like United States of America, where whites were given preferential treatment as compared to people from minority groups. However, implementation of that policy has resulted into equal employment opportunities of all people.
Various demands of the quota system state the number of persons from a particular ethnic group who can be employed in certain job categories. For instance, if the vacancies available are 12, the quota system may decide to reserve about 7 positions for the minority groups and 5 positions for the whites. This implies that the issue of qualifications may be foregone at the expense of political correctness, or so as to conform to the requirement of the quota systems. In other words, the demands of the quota system are given more priority than the qualifications of various individuals in offering employment opportunities to different people.
Quota system policy also applies in the education sector, mostly in training opportunities and university admissions. This implies that there are a specific number of people from both minority group and whites set aside on admissions of people into the educational institutions. This policy was aimed at maintaining a state of balance to all people regardless of their race; that is giving blacks equal opportunities to get employment as people from whites’ community. This was aimed at ending historical injustices that minority communities were subjected to for very many years in the past. However, some whites believe that this policy has made them more disadvantaged compared to minority groups in getting employment opportunities, despite the fact that they possess higher qualifications compared to people from minority communities.
The proponents of reverse discrimination insist that they are at the losing end against the minorities. Additionally, the proponents of reverse discrimination argue that the policies that were established to address the issue of historical injustices are currently working against them. However, the issue of people from the white community being disadvantaged in life as a result of affirmative action is basically exaggerated. The proportion of people from the white community against other communities is still twisted in favor of the former. The fact is that it will take a long time before all races attain equality in all dimensions of human activities, particularly activities related to different employment opportunities.
The fact that one or two more qualified individuals from the white community fail to be granted a job does not justify a large number of whites’ opposition to the affirmative action policy. What the proponents of reverse discrimination forget is that, for many years, minorities, as well as Native Americans were subjected to very difficult situations, especially in getting jobs, due to their race. Furthermore, the issue of both available opportunities as well as weighted performance should be considered; for instance, a white man who studies in the best educational institutions and is exposed to a more advantaged lifestyle is expected to perform well. Comparing the performance of the white man with that of a black man, who is born and raised in the Ghettos, studies in a school with insufficient learning facilities, and manages to attain one or two grades lower than him, basically shows an application of unfair standards of evaluation. It would only be fair and more reasonable to compare the two only if both of them had similar living standards and were exposed to similar environment.
The only and most convincing way of advancing the argument of reverse discrimination can only apply in a situation where the two men come from the same family backgrounds in terms of financial stability and are exposed to the same lifestyles, attain the same marks, and the white man fail to be granted a job due to his race. That is the only way in which proponents of reverse discrimination can justify the existence of disadvantages against them. This is because most people from minority communities, especially blacks, experience a lot of hardships in their lives due to their low standards of living. For instance, they go to schools with insufficient educational facilities compared to people from the white community; thus, the quota system policy considers the standards of living of the minorities when it comes to offering employment opportunities. The aim is basically to offer equal employment opportunities to all people regardless of their race, religion, color, or gender.
In conclusion, with regard to ethical point of view, job opportunity should be granted to a person with outstanding performance not only in academics but also in other areas, such as personality characteristics as well as the ability to perform work as part of a team. Therefore, people should refrain from using reverse discrimination as an excuse, especially the adherents of reverse discrimination, who believe that they are disadvantaged by the affirmative action policies. This is because such attitude can result into racial hatred promoted by those who believe that they are targeted by the affirmative action. This issue should be handled with a lot of caution because racial hatred can affect the political stability of a nation as well as national security.