Reassessing Affirmative Action and it’s Unintended Consequences

Affirmative Action was introduced with the promise of bridging the racial inequalities faced by Black Americans in the United States. However, a closer examination reveals that despite an increase in educational opportunities, Black Americans remain excluded from broader society due to persistent redlining, institutional racism, and other forms of discrimination. 

This editorial aims to shed light on the unintended consequences of Affirmative Action and highlight its disproportionate benefits for groups other than Black Americans. We will explore the lack of discourse within the Black American community regarding the policy’s effectiveness and explore which communities or groups the dismantling of the policy may effect the most.

Disparities & Unintended Consequences in Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action’s focus on educational access has not translated into economic empowerment for Black Americans as a whole. Structural inequalities, institutional racism, and ongoing discrimination have hindered their ability to break free from the cycle of poverty and build generational wealth. Despite increased educational attainment, Black Americans continue to face exclusion from broader society. Discrimination, redlining, and institutional racism persist, hindering their access to economic opportunities and societal advancement.

Although Affirmative Action aimed to increase representation in various fields, Black Americans are still underrepresented in sectors such as technology, science, math, engineering, and finance. This demonstrates the limited impact of these policies on achieving equitable representation. Data reveals that the representation of Black Americans in top-tier universities, high-paying jobs, and leadership positions remains disproportionately low. For example, while Black Americans account for approximately 13% of the U.S. population, they are significantly underrepresented in sectors such as technology, science, math, engineering, and finance.

Over time, Affirmative Action policies have led to unintended consequences. Affirmative Action, intended to address racial disparities, has primarily benefited other groups such as white women, Asians, Africans, and other immigrants. Black Americans, the original intended beneficiaries, have not experienced significant advancements in overall societal inclusion despite increased educational attainment.

Here are some ways that other groups have experienced more substantial benefits from Affirmative Action policies than Black Americans:

White Woman

  • Gender-Based Considerations – Affirmative Action policies often include provisions to promote gender diversity. This has resulted in increased opportunities for white women, who have historically faced discrimination in the workforce.
  • Intersectionality – White women can simultaneously benefit from both gender-based affirmative action measures and racial preferences, providing them with additional advantages in college admissions and employment.


  • Model Minority Stereotype – Asians are often perceived as high-achieving and academically successful, which can work in their favor under Affirmative Action policies that emphasize merit-based selection criteria.
  • Disproportionate Representation: While some argue that Affirmative Action policies may limit Asian representation in top-tier universities, as they face higher standards due to stereotypes about their academic performance, others contend that it has helped increase opportunities for Asian students in historically discriminatory admissions processes.

Africans & other Immigrants

  • Unique Backgrounds – Immigrants often arrive in the United States with higher levels of education and professional qualifications. Affirmative Action policies, aimed at increasing diversity, can provide them with an advantage in college admissions and employment.
  • Limited Historical Disadvantages – Immigrants may not have experienced the same level of historical discrimination as African Americans, leading to less need for affirmative action measures to address systemic inequalities.
  • Africans often exploit Affirmative Action policy by checking the African American box when apply for admission, grants, and other for government assistant. They receive benefits as both Africans and African Americans.

Other Non Black Groups

  • Hispanics and Latinos – Affirmative Action has helped address the barriers faced by Hispanic and Latino individuals, particularly in higher education. It has contributed to increased college enrollment and improved access to scholarships and financial aid.
  • Individuals with Disabilities – Affirmative Action has extended its reach to individuals with disabilities, aiming to create inclusive environments and promote equal opportunities in education and employment. It has resulted in accommodations and support services for disabled individuals.
  • LGBTQ+ Communities – Some Affirmative Action policies have expanded to include protections and considerations for individuals identifying as LGBTQ+. This has helped address discrimination and promote diversity in educational institutions and workplaces.
  • Religious Minorities – Affirmative Action has offered protections and opportunities for religious minorities who have faced historical discrimination. It aims to foster religious diversity and promote equal treatment in various spheres of life.

Note to Reader

It is important to note that while these groups have benefited from Affirmative Action policies, it does not imply that they have achieved complete parity or that Black Americans have not benefited at all. Affirmative Action policies have had varying effects on different racial and ethnic groups, and the overall impact on Black Americans may differ from that experienced by other groups. It is crucial to highlight that the groups mentioned are jockeying to be granted admission in institutions that have historically catered to white men. Why haven’t these groups created prestigious universities and institutions of their own?

Landing My Plane

While acknowledging the disparities and unintended consequences of Affirmative Action, it is essential to recognize the progress it has made for marginalized groups, including white women, Asians, and Africans, & other immigrants.

However, the focus should shift towards strengthening institutions within the Black American community, particularly HBCUs, to foster intellectual excellence and promote Black Excellence in fields that shape the future. Instead of protesting for Affirmative Action, attention and efforts should be encouraged to refine and redirect the services of HBCUs to foster a shared vision for the Black American Community. Doing so will address systemic inequalities and prevent further exclusion, ultimately paving the way for a self-sufficient people to create an equitable society. It is important to note that any ruling to dismantle Affirmative Action would likely impact disadvantaged groups, including Black Americans, leading to lower college entry rates and exacerbating existing disparities in higher education.

MSNBC Joy Reid on Affirmative Action