.. blacks and women in recent years. But, even prior to the lifetime of those that would be most affected by preferential hiring: both blacks and women have had the right to vote; discrimination based on race, color, religion, or sex has been illegal; segregation has ended; and the civil rights movement has taken place. Clearly, we live in a different United States than out predecessors. Today’s blacks and women may still experience some repercussions of discrimination, but for decades laws have been enforced prohibiting discrimination.
If someone discriminates against a black today, charges could be filed against that person and that person will be punished. That is the bottom line. Preferential treatment cannot be given to victims of all crimes. It would become chaotic trying pin the level of preference a victim should get for different crimes. For a moment let’s digress to the case of Judy.
Judy was raped. All society can offer her is the punishment of her rapist, if her rapist is found guilty. Sure, Judy will probably suffer for the rest of her life believing that it was her fault; she will lose self-respect and self-confidence. But is Judy going to receive preferential treatment when she walks into an office and applies for a job? There is no space on a job application for Judy to say: “I should receive special consideration, because several years ago I was raped. This rape has caused me years of anguish, and now I lack the self-confidence I once had.
All this has cause me to underachieve in school and in life. Please consider this when you review my application.” If Judy, who lost her self-confidence and self-respect through the violation of her rights by a member of society, is given no compensation for her trauma, why should blacks or women? All society owes the victim of a crime is that the criminal be punished if in fact a law was breached. Possibly their case is more powerful. Not all women (or men) are raped each year, but most blacks and women have been discriminated against at some point in their life. Could we possibly owe the victims of discrimination something? If, as Thomson claims, all blacks and females have, as a consequence of their past lack of rights, suffered a lack of self-confidence and self-respect, then why preferentially give them jobs? Jobs have no direct correlation to a lack of self-respect and self-confidence. Indirectly, yes, maybe many blacks and women have not been able to achieve their highest goals due to this lack of self-confidence and are therefore handicapped when they enter the job market.
But it seems to me that if we were to solve the problem and provide repayment with the loosening of qualifications necessary, or even not the loosening but the offering of preferential treatment when hiring blacks and women, this does not solve the problem. It seems to make more sense to dig deeper; to find the root of the problem and change it. Since we can’t go back and change history, eliminating the poor treatment blacks and women of the past, then the next best thing seems to be to reverse the effects of discrimination in the present. The lack of presence in the upper levels of the job market is not a direct effect of discrimination. It is, as Thomson states, a lack of self-confidence and self-respect that has kept toady’s blacks and women down. So the logical solution would be to renew their self-respect, and to restore their self-confidence.
It seems like too superficial of a solution to simply give blacks and women preference when it comes to hiring. Certainly it would not bolster my self-confidence to know that I received a job over another equally qualified individual, simply due to my skin color or sex. I would feel as if again race and sex were dominating decisions. Wasn’t the original goal to eliminate the issue of skin color and sex from all decisions? Thomson, in her essay on preferential hiring, tells us that she is not happy with the solution of preferential hiring in its entirety: “If there were some appropriate way in which the community could make amends to its blacks and women, some way which did not require depriving anyone of anything he has a right to, then that would be the best course to take.” There must be a better way. Psychological treatment would help give the victims of poor treatment renewed self-confidence, providing them the confidence to go out and try to earn a job, rather than get handed a job.
The feeling of accomplishment that results from earning a job would help improve self-confidence. But now another issue arises. We would owe all victims of crime some sort of compensation. Maybe there is another way to elevate the status of minorities without bringing the issue of race or sex into the arena. If what is desired by preferential hiring is a jump-start to promote diversity in the workplace and in society, where race and sex are irrelevant, why not enact a plan where preferential hiring is not based on these factors? Instead, why not give preference to underrepresented towns or areas of town (possibly by zip code), to those that are financially burdened, and to those with handicaps. This would help relieve the pressure of race and sex in these issues.
The underprivileged will still be given a jump-start, and diversity will still be promoted. However, this solution breaches another point that any form of categorization of people should not occur. The solutions presented are more acceptable than preferential hiring, though they still have their defects. Why not bury the issue of race? Discrimination is waning. It has become a crime to discriminate.
Soon blacks and women will become full members of the job world. There are plenty of role model success stories available. There is no reason to believe that anyone, in today’s society, cannot achieve whatever they wish. Hard work and diligence will pay off and eventually race and sex will no longer be issues. The goal is to make race and sex irrelevant, and preferential hiring only keeps these issues alive.
Let’s try to live in a society modeled after Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, and I believe the issues of race and sex will disappear, leaving people to be judged solely on their character.