What is Affirmative Action All About?
He sees affirmative action as reinforcing inequality by placing white society in the position of gift-giver and black society in the subordinate position of receiver of gifts, stating that affirmative action has done more bad than good for blacks so that blacks stand to lose more than they can gain ("Affirmative action hurts minorities" 436). Steele sees affirmative action in and of itself as a program with good intentions such that the program itself undermines those intentions so that the intention can never be fulfilled. He says that the problem is that affirmative action tries to function as if it were a social program. We demand more than that the program assure equal opportunity--we ask that it create parity between the races. Preferential treatment, however, does not teach skills, education, or instill motivation ("Affirmative action hurts minorities" 440). For Steele, the result can never be otherwise given the nature of affirmative action.

A related charge by critics is that affirmative action raises doubts about the legitimacy of the achievements of beneficiaries, not merely in the minds of white males but also in the minds of blacks, women, and other beneficiaries themselves. One example of this is the message critics see affirmative action as sending to young blacks who once thought they had to be twice as good as a white to get half as far. Now, they may believe they do not have to make the effort because they have affirmative ac

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