Hiring Minorities

In recent years preferential hiring has become an issue
of great interest. Preferential hiring, which was devised to
create harmony between the different races and sexes, has divided
the lines even more. Supporters on both sides seem fixed in
their positions and often refuse to listen to the other group’s
platform. In this essay, the recipients of preferential hiring
will be either black or female, and the position in question will
be a professorship on the university level. The hirings in
question are cases that involve several candidates, all roughly
equal in their qualifications (including experience, education,
people skills, etc.), with the only difference being race and/or
What we have here is a case of predetermined preference.
The two candidates in question are equal in all ways, except race.
The black applicant is selected, not because of skills or
qualifications (in that case the white man would have provided
the same result), but for his skin color. This seems to be blatant
discrimination, but many believe it is justified. Some feel
retribution for years of discrimination is reason enough, but that
issue will be discussed later. First, lets focus on why this is
not a solution to creating an unbiased society.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream: "I have a dream that
my four little children will one day live in a nation where they
will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content
of their character." He desired a world without discrimination,
without prejudice, and without stereotypes. The fundamental lesson
years of discrimination should have taught is that to give anyone
preference based on skin color, sex, or religious beliefs is, in
one word, wrong. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, judgment based
on skin color must not exist. All preferential hiring does is
keep judgments based on skin color alive. Race and sex should not
be issues in today’s society, yet preferential hiring continues to
make these factors issues by treating minorities as a group rather
than as individuals. More importantly preferential hiring may
actually fuel, rather than extinguish, feelings of racial hostility.
Applying the concept of preferential hiring to another
situation may help elucidate its shortcomings. A party of white
men and a party of black men both arrive at a restaurant at the same
time and only one table is free. The headwaiter can only seat one
party and must make a decision. According to preferential hiring
theory it is necessary to seat the black party first, since
historically blacks have been discriminated against when seated
in restaurants. In another situation, a white man and a black man
are both equidistant from the last seat on the bus. Both men are
the same age, have no medical problems, and are equal in all ways
except skin color. Should the black man get the seat since in the
past black men have been discriminated against? We could continue
this practice for several centuries before the debt we owe for
depriving blacks of a seat on the bus would be paid. Perhaps these
examples are invalid. It could be said that jobs are a different
issue. They help define social status and provide economic
well-being. They might even boost self-confidence, something that
discrimination has stolen.
Two points must be considered before moving any further.
First, blacks may learn better from a black, and women may learn
better from a woman. Second, hiring women and blacks will provide
role models for others. The first point Thomson quickly concedes
as likely to be false. Discussion about the second point however
is required, and will, in effect, serve to negate the first point
as well.
First, lets create a character, Bill. Bill is grossly
overweight and unattractive. Studies have shown that many employers
discriminate (whether subconsciously or not), against both overweight
and unattractive individuals. Unfortunately for Bill, he fits into
both categories. His inability to land a job reflective of his
abilities, coupled with years of public humiliation through jokes
made at his expense, has destroyed his self-esteem. This has caused
him to accept as fact the notion that he will never be able to reach
his goals. Few "Bill" success stories exist, only further plummeting
his self-confidence.
This example sounds strikingly similar to a common argument
for preferential hiring. I have been discriminated against, which
has caused my self esteem to fall, and now I am stuck, with few role
models to follow. Bill’s success has probably been thwarted by more
sources than the today’s average black or female, but there is no
provision in preferential hiring for him. Just like no one can
control their race or skin color, Bill’s obesity is