I can think of a much more appropriate s-word to fill in for Daniel Choi's recent guest editorial ("A Way Out Of Affirmative Action," Opinion, Oct. 28, 1995) where he presents "a disarmingly simple" way to dissuade the objections to affirmative action." Choi seems to think that by making affirmative action a voluntary consideration for women/minority groups these candidates will be able to assert their true ability and render affirmative action unnecessary. Choi displays a shockingly one-dimensional, naive, even somewhat warped perspective on the issue of affirmative action.
First, he equates his position as analogous with the pro-choice movement for abortion, However, there is a fundamental difference between Choi and a true pro-choice position. Those that are pro-choice actually believe in abortion as a fully legitimate choice, whether they would choose it for themselves or not. Choi's editorial makes affirmative action out to be a shameful policy for those that are its beneficiaries. He seek to eliminate affirmative action, not by countering discrimination and eliminating the need for it, but by encouraging women and minority groups to shoot themselves in the foot and stigmatize themselves into not seeking gains made with the help of affirmative action.
Choi seems to deny the existence or real discrimination in academic and the workplace, pointing to affirmative action as the source of all injustice. Choi writes, "this pro-choice position on affirmative action...(would) give minority and women applicants the explicit right to waive affirmative action and to be considered instead by the same standards as anyone else." Thank goodness Choi came up with this proposal. Here I've been all this time fighting against discrimination when I should have clicked my heels three times and said just treat me like my white male counterpart, just treat me like my white male counterpart.
Let's stop representing affirmative action as some quota filling policy created in a social vacuum and recognize the more fundamental statement it makes, that discrimination won't be tolerated in passive or active forms, and that only a conscientious and rigorous effort will be successful in curtailing such bias.
Choi's argument illustrates the main problems with present affirmative action policy. Social stigma has divided women/minority groups by those who accept their membership in a community fighting discrimination and those that are pressured by social stigma to reject associations with their respective minority status. There's a difference between an affluent black. Hispanic, or Asian student choosing not to apply for a minority scholarship and making sure female/minority applicants are considered fairly for positions they apply for. The former is a playing field of real choice, the Latter is one dictated by forces not so fair nor easily controlled. Getting to the point where minority and women candidates feel they are judged by the same standards as "everybody else" requires a little more complexity and a lot more thought than the position presented by Choi's column. --Virginia S. Loo '95 '96