Nafees Alam, assistant professor in the School of Social Work, published “Discrimination by Altered Expectations” in Heterodox Academy.
Alam wrote about his experiences with affirmative action in his university career and how it may have affected his application to be an assistant professor. Alam argues that Affirmative action, done with good intentions, can cause more harm than good.
“Although I should not be penalized because of my race, I am also not owed anything because of it,” Alam said.
Alam says that the harmful effects of affirmative action, and other forms of benevolent or vicarious racism, can be hard to see because they are masked by positive intentions and a desire to help people. He discusses how benevolent racism can come from a lack of understanding about how systemic racism functions and that it can lead to tokenism – where individuals are given opportunities not by their merit, but to be a figurehead for diversity.
With the changes to affirmative action in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, Alam hopes “there will be people of color like myself who can achieve success in a purely meritocratic system absent of affirmative action, and now we will no longer have to question the validity and credibility of our own success.”