The Price Of Preference By Shelby Steele Analysis

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Affirmative Action: The Price of Preference In “The Price of Preference”, Shelby Steele takes a stance opposing affirmative action and focuses his discussion primarily on the effects that it has on African-Americans. Steele reasons that while affirmative action was created with good intentions, he argues that black people have more to lose from it than they gain. Steele believes that affirmative action strayed from its initial goal of anti-discrimination enforcement and instead escalated into a form of social engineering through preferential treatment. Essentially, the main issue presented by affirmative action is the manner in which it attempts to bypass the development of formerly oppressed groups to the stage where they are fully able to …show more content…
Under affirmative action, the characteristic that earns blacks preferential treatment is implied inferiority. In integrated situations, blacks may be seen as intellectually inept since those around them view them as beneficiaries of affirmative action rather than merit. Since the effect of preferential treatment is the lowering of normal standards to increase representation, Steele argues that it places self-doubt within the minds of blacks which undermines their academic performance. This self-doubt in turn places them in a mental state of perpetual inferiority, impeding their potential for success and creates another obstacle in the development of blacks. The second liability of affirmative action is how it prompts blacks to capitalize on their past victimization as a source of power and privilege. Since victimization justifies preference, Steele asserts that in order to fully reap the benefits of preferential treatment, an individual must become invested in this victimization to some extent. Thus, affirmative action tends to lead blacks to become invested in their own victimization which is, ironically, the very status they are trying to overcome. The third fault with affirmative action is the illusion of reparation that it creates for blacks, with it being legitimized as something ‘owed’ to blacks. However, this overlooks the fact that it is simply impossible to repay blacks for the historical suffering of race. Furthermore, Steele notes that nothing can fully mend the injustices that blacks have endured but it is possible for them to be corrupted by gestures of reparation such as affirmative

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