Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Will Obama's Presidential Election Doom Affirmative Action?

Today, ABC News talked about how Barack Obama's election as President of the United States would change the dynamic of the US workforce. The supposition was that the US workforce would become more culturally diverse as a result of his election and his leadership thus far in assembling a very culturally diverse team. ABC also noted another positive: African Americans and other minorities finally see that they can achieve more and are motivated to do the right thing: go to school, work, start businesses, etc. (more on this later) But I wonder, could an Obama election have just the opposite effect?

For many years when people debated the merits of affirmative action, those opposing affirmative action usually split into two camps. The first are those that opposed because they feel any quota is wrong. The second set are those who oppose because they feel blacks and other minorities have been in this country long enough to have overcome the handicaps of segregation. While I don't agree with either, Obama's election, as well as the very high profile careers of many other people of color, adds strength to their central theme--people should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Obama, like many Americans, started with humble beginnings (not to mention a checkered family history) and finally realized that he had to buckle down and use his wit, charm, and poise to succeed. Both he and Michelle worked hard and graduated from Harvard School of Law. Now I wonder if many Americans might expect the same of all of us? That is, to buckle down, work hard and receive the rewards thereof. Or not to do so and live in mediocrity--without excuses.