Coming Out for Affirmative Action
Are you a beneficiary of Affirmative Action? Come out.
Spearheaded by the AAPF, the “Coming Out for Affirmative Action” project is a first of its kind initiative urging beneficiaries of affirmative action programs throughout the United States to come out of the closet.
(1) Put a Face on It
One aim is to help the general public put a real face on affirmative action. Both left and right wing media often focus their reporting on challengers to affirmative action programs–usually highly sympathetic individuals that articulate their personal stake in the eradication of these programs. More often than not the faces and voices of beneficiaries of these programs do not make it on air. This project aims to change this. For the next year we will be collecting photographs, short letters, and video clips of affirmative action beneficiaries across the United States. We will archive these submissions on this website and create an accessible database of affirmative action beneficiaries that help us put a name, a face, and story to the programs.
(2) Destigmatize It
Another goal is to help beneficiaries, supporters, and allies of affirmative action programs destigmatize the issue. We believe that few people would publicly declare that fighting racial discrimination is bad social policy, and yet many of Americans believe that affirmative action programs are no longer necessary. More alarming, 47% of Americans 18–25 oppose affirmative action programs. Much of the disconnect between the overarching goal of racial equity and the real and tangible benefits affirmative action programs still provide us with seems to be the stigma of the programs, not the effects of the programs. By urging beneficiaries to come out of the closet we hope to help take away the stigma that many of us felt and still feel when our merit and accomplishments are questioned simply because we were and are beneficiaries of affirmative action programs.
(3) Justify It
Debates about affirmative action, whether they are going on in our nations courts or the court of public opinion are often heated and, more often than not, highly abstract affairs. These discussions rarely go beyond superficial talk about numbers of racial minorities in a particular class or job today, nor do they tackle larger questions about complicated questions of merit, or question where society will be 20 years from now if we dismantle these programs now. We believe that one way to help arm beneficiaries and allies with the tools they need to participate in public debates and discussions about affirmative action is to provide you with the real world stories of real people that have faced structural barriers to opportunities in their life because of race and/or gender, and have, because of affirmative action programs, nevertheless gained access to opportunities in work and in school. We believe the numbers are on our side, but we also believe that being introduced to the faces and stories of people that have had pathways to opportunities opened up to them through affirmative action can help you learn more about how these programs have served the last couple generations of beneficiaries as well as provide you with the stories you need to help articulate the best case for affirmative action.
(4) Bust Myths
Another major goal of the project is to help the general public bust the host of myths associated with affirmative action today. Some myths are easier than others to bust. For instance, many Americans believe that Blacks are the primary beneficiaries of Affirmative Action. This is in part due to the media portrayal of these programs, as well as latent racism. By pushing beneficiaries of all races to come out for affirmative action we hope to help quash this myth and make it clear that many people are beneficiaries of these programs, not just Blacks. Over time we will highlight particular myths and provide visitors with quick links to videos, letters, and other media that use the voices of ordinary Americans to help bust both notorious and lesser known myths.