Preserve affirmative action 

And these disparities are actually improvements.

Affirmative
action programs were created to help decrease these inequities, as well
as others, and combat discrimination against women and minorities.
These programs have helped establish women’s clinics, domestic violence
programs, breast cancer screening programs, higher education funding for
minorities interested in medical and engineering fields, and for girls
and women interested in technology and science fields. They have helped
qualified students attend higher education institutions and qualified
minorities and women find employment.

And instead of
focusing on more ways to improve these disparities and create equal
opportunity, Oklahoma elected officials are attacking the use of
affirmative action with State Question 759, which sets out to prohibit
state affirmative action programs in schools, employment, and state
contracts. SQ 759 claims that affirmative action gives “preferred
treatment based on race, color or gender” and a recent editorial in The Oklahoman goes as far as to refer to affirmative action programs as acts of reverse discrimination.

But
this reasoning for the need to prohibit affirmative action fails to
take into account the conditions that necessitated its creation.
Affirmative action programs set out to increase the representation of
minorities and women in the areas of education, employment and state
contracts.

They set out to ensure neutrality when jobs
are hiring, when schools are accepting. These programs do not set out to
provide preferential treatment.

And procedures are in
place to ensure that affirmative actions do not result in preferential
treatment. Oklahoma has the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to
monitor such programs in the workplace.

Universities
and colleges have equal opportunity offices, multicultural divisions,
and people working to guarantee equal opportunity to all persons.

Prohibiting affirmative action programs in Oklahoma is a step in the wrong direction. By voting no on
SQ 759 in November, Oklahoma has the opportunity to continue to improve
disparities affecting minorities and women, and combat discrimination.

—Angela Hooks, Bethany

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Angela Hooks

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