Date: Mon, 27 Mar 1995 12:41:56 -0800
Sender: AFFAM-L—News/Updates on Organizing to Defend Affirmative Action <AFFAM-L@cmsa.Berkeley.EDU>
From: Nathan Newman <>
Subject: Affirmative Action in Interest of ALL Workers (fwd)
To: Multiple recipients of list AFFAM-L <AFFAM-L@cmsa.Berkeley.EDU>

————— Forwarded message —————
Date: 27 Mar 95 14:59:00 EST
To: affam-l <affam-l@cmsa.Berkeley.EDU>
Subject: Affirmative Action in Interest of ALL Workers

Affirmative Action Is In the Interest of ALL Workers!

By Grover C. Furr, 27 March 1995

Affirmative Action has scarcely been implemented at all in the US, at least with regard to blacks and latins. But, if it WERE implemented strongly, it would benefit, not just blacks and latins, but white male workers as well.

It would, however, harm employers. This explains the attack against Affirmative Action by both Republicans (more noisily) and Democrats. It also explains the attempt, on the part of ruling-class politicians and others, to dismantle Affirmative Action while using it as a tool to build racism—to blame minorities and women for the declining standard of living and rising unemployment of white male workers, among other things.


Minorities and women remain, as they have historically been, a source of cheap labor for employers, to be used when needed, and relegated disproportionately to unemployment when they are not. In other words, higher-paying jobs are now, and always have been, filled disproportionately by white males.

Far from being a benefit to white male workers, however, this harms them. This is because cheap labor anywhere is a threat to better-paid labor everywhere.

Employers have moved millions of jobs to the Southern states in past decades because of the lower standard of living in the South. Employers have moved millions more abroad, to areas of even cheaper wages. In other words, millions of these workers now have jobs and all the joys of exploitation—long, hard work under dangerous conditions for very low wages— while millions of once better-paid American workers have either unemployment and poverty, or jobs at much lower wages.

This move to areas of lower wages is, in effect, Affirmative Action for Southern, Latin American, Asian, etc. workers. It benefits them only insofar as, under capitalism, vicious exploitation is the only alternative to starvation. And it harms workers in the Northeast/ American workers, clearly.

Whom, then, does it benefit? The corporations; the employers. The capitalists.

Within the US, too, there are pools of cheap labor everywhere — minorities and women—to be taken advantage of by employers who decide, for whatever reason, NOT to move (or who have already moved, say, to the South). It is in the interest, not only of minority and female workers, but of white male workers as well, that these pools of super-cheap labor be eliminated—that the wages, levels of employment, etc., of minorities and women be raised to the level of white male workers, so that pools of cheap labor be eliminated. Similarly, it would be strongly in the interest of American workers if workers in Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, etc.—i.e. in all areas where capitalists have moved jobs in order to raise the level of exploitation (profit)—were to successfully fight for wages at the level of American workers.

Affirmative Action, successfully implemented, would tend to raise the level of wages and employment among minorities and women. That means, it WOULD, if implemented, also benefit white male workers, in that these pools of cheap and unemployed labor would be removed. Naturally, therefore, there has NEVER been strong support for Affirmative Action from employers. Employers never support any policies that tend to lower their profits by raising wages.


A word on qualifications: they are phony, period! Many studies have shown that SATs, for example, predict family income much more accurately than they do performance in college. Likewise with the qualifications for medical, law, and other schools. ALL of these tests are biased IN FAVOR OF WEALTHY PEOPLE. Of course, the rich can afford expensive education, where the kinds of things that are tested in these tests are taught. They can also afford special tutors, preparatory course, etc. These tests are built around certain assumptions. The main assumption is that rich people are more competent and intelligent than poor people.

In the 1930s it was discovered that men did more poorly on IQ tests than women. Result: the tests were changed! The sexist psychologists were not willing to make the assumption that men were dumber than women, so they concluded the test must be at fault. Would they have changed the test if men had scored HIGHER than women? Forget it!

For decades the SATs produced lower scores for women than for men, despite the fact that women did (and do) better in High School and in college. Finally in the late ‘80s the College Board decided to relent and change the scoring (standardization) of the SATs so that, other factors remaining constant, women’s and men’s scores came out the same.

In other words: for decades the SATs reflected the ASSUMPTION that women had less SA (a completely bogus concept itself; there is no such thing as ‘scholastic aptitude’) than men, and the tests were fine. Then, a few years ago, the College Board decided that this assumption was false, and it was the test that was at fault. Another assumption—this time, that women are as competent as men (i.e. have as much of the fictional ‘S.A.’).

But the College Board has NEVER suggested making the same assumption about Blacks—or poorer students, or working-class whites, etc. The fact that these groups score lower on the SATs simply reflects the ASSUMPTION of the test-makers that these groups have less S.A., whatever that is, and therefore the tests should reflect that assumption. The reasoning is completely circular.

All these qualification tests are racist, sexist, anti-working class nonsense, period. NONE of them predicts who will make a good, caring physician; a lawyer who will fight to protect the working class rather than the corporations; a teacher who will use his/her ability to attack racism, sexism and elitism.

Furthermore: ANY test that serves to keep minorities and women out of better-paying jobs and in a pool of cheap labor serves the interest of the capitalists by providing phony support for racism, sexism and anti-working class thinking, and HURTS ALL WORKERS, INCLUDING WHITE MALES.