The BLOG: Culture

Affirmative Action Is Racism In Action

Google it:  “Is affirmative action racist?”

Article after article after article about how affirmative action is not racist.

That means one of two things.  Either nobody writes about it / thinks it.  Or Google is massively stacking the deck in support of a liberal agenda. (Which we know from past media coverage is in fact true.)

Here’s what we can find:




prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.


af·firm·a·tive ac·tion


an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education; positive discrimination.



I’m going to break this down very simply.  Affirmative action is racist at its very core, because it is implemented on the assumption that everyone who is white is rich or maintains an advantage over someone who is not white.

I’m calling B.S.

I’ve watched people who are not white and are LESS qualified be given promotions at companies over people who are white and MORE qualified based on the color of their skin.

This is the very definition of discrimination.  It says that because of the color of one’s skin, this person should be given an advantage over someone else.

As a society, I’d suggest we are becoming MORE racist BECAUSE of the mentality that there needs to be special privileges given to one group of people over another.  WHY are colleges and universities having separate commencement ceremonies for students … or separate HOUSING for students … based on the color of their skin?  Martin Luther King Jr. is rolling over in his grave right now.  This is everything he fought AGAINST – and here we are actively working to segregate.

When I worked in television, there was a box of tapes in literally every news director’s office I have ever been in. We referred to it as “the box of broken dreams.” It was the resume tapes of the reporters and anchors that just didn’t make the cut.

I’ll never forget a meeting we had with all of the producers and newsroom management years ago. We watched the resume tapes of two reporters competing for one position. We were asked for our feedback.

The female candidate was white. The male candidate was black. Not that it should make a difference – but in this case, it did.

The consensus was that the woman was a better reporter. She had a better on-camera presence, a better resume tape, and a more engaging personality. She could have been black or white or Asian or Hispanic. It didn’t matter – she was just the better reporter. Skin color had nothing to do with it.

But the news director decided to hire the man. His explanation was simple. “He’s black and we need some more black people here.”

Was this a case of “black privilege?” One could argue that it was. Should a person be given a position over someone clearly more cut out for the position … just because of the color of his or her skin?

No, I don’t believe that person should.

If we’re serious about combatting racism, we need to understand WHAT racism is. There’s no such thing as “reverse racism.” It’s ALL racism. Discriminating against someone based on the color of skin or ethnicity – or stereotyping someone based on that – can be viewed as being racist in my book. It doesn’t matter WHAT skin color the person is.

Black people can discriminate against white people the same way white people discriminate against black people. Puerto Ricans can discriminate against Italians. The Polish can discriminate against Muslims. The funny thing about discrimination and racism is that they know no boundaries.

That’s why I struggle to understand how in a society where we’re so focused (thankfully) on eliminating racism … it’s acceptable for someone to say, “I voted for that President because he’s black.” If someone else said, “I’m voting for this guy because he’s white,” wouldn’t that person be called a racist? Help me to understand the difference.

If a channel were to launch and it was called “White Entertainment Television,” wouldn’t it be viewed as racist? It’s a fair question.

When applying for scholarships before college, I applied for one that was specifically for people of Hispanic descent. I was in the running because I’m a “Reyes.” I could not, however, apply for a scholarship for people of African-American descent. Now how are these requirements any different from the requirements if someone were to offer a scholarship only to white students? Do ANY of these requirements foster anything other than discrimination?

I’ve watched students who are not white and had lower GPAs and community involvement be given scholarships over students who are white and had higher GPAs and more community involvement based on the color of their skin.

And so let’s bring it back to my initial point.  Affirmative action is racist — period. It implies that because of the color of one’s skin, that person has what that person has. It doesn’t take into consideration the character or history of an individual or anything about a person other than an assumption that that person is who the person is or has what the person has because of the color of that person’s skin.  It says that, based on the color of one’s skin, that individual isn’t as good as someone else and needs an advantage.

Martin Luther King Jr. said:  “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.”

If we’re going to truly come together to combat racism, we have to understand that it touches people of EVERY color and background. We need to think about the comments we share and the decisions we make and how they affect people. But we also need to stop thinking that racism knows and understands boundaries. It’s the only shot we have of beating it in our companies … in our families … and in our communities.


Kyle S. Reyes is President and CEO of The Silent Partner Marketing. He’s also an acclaimed keynote speaker on entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing and social media. You can follow him on Facebook.