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 sex.
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
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-
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.