What If ?: 'A Raisin In The Sun' And Affirmative Action

What If ?: 'A Raisin In The Sun' And Affirmative Action

Would affirmative action have changed Lorraine Hansberry's storied play?
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The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s had changed the course of American history, breaking extreme racial boundaries of the South for the first time since the end of the Revolutionary War (1783). The Civil Rights Movement created icons known world wide, from Rosa Parks, to the peaceful Martin Luther King Jr., who believed that freedom needed to be “demanded by the oppressed” (Letter From Birmingham Jail 2) to the violent Malcolm X who'd keep African Americans fighting for rights "by any means necessary” (“Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X” 35-67).

These actions by civil rights leaders prompted political change, allowing schools to be integrated, African Americans sharing facilities with whites and living among each other as a close-knit American community, striving for the better. Of the staggering outcomes of the nation’s most racially tense time period, affirmative action stands out as the most imperative of the policies created by the US government for equal opportunity.

In 1965, affirmative action policies actively engaged in efforts to improve opportunities for historically excluded groups in American society. This includes minority groups such as African Americans, Hispanics etc. Women were also included in affirmative action, since most, if not all, did not have equal opportunities in education and employment as did the men (Messerli 2). Minority groups now have an equal opportunity in political elections, education, admission into high institutions, health care, employment, social protection, as well as cultural and historical recognition (Daflon, Feres, Jr. 19).

Affirmative action was used many in Supreme Court cases, in which the highest law of the land, the Constitution, is referred to almost always. Events of the 1960’s and the policy of Affirmative Action had inspired the playwright Lorraine Hansberry to create A Raisin in the Sun, a story about a poor Chicago family trying to follow their dreams, while at the same time trying to keep the dignity of the family name and household.

The issue of affirmative action in the United States really sparked in 1977, when 35-year-old Allan Bakke filed a lawsuit against the Regents of the University of California for wrongly denying him into their medical school by practicing “reverse discrimination," taking race into account for applications to the university. At the time, 16 percent of the medical school spots were reserved strictly for Minorities. ("University of California Regents v. Bakke, United States Supreme Court, 438 U.S. 265).

However, many of the Minority applicants scored lower GPAs and had resumes that were less sturdy than Bakke. Referring back to Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun, Beneatha had dreams of one day becoming a doctor, and yet had not worked properly enough to attend a high institution (Hansberry 28), which could've, at the time, caused some controversy to race being a factor in applying to schools.

This "reverse discrimination" prevented Bakke from attending, twice, simply because there were no spots left for white students. In 1978, Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell deemed that racial quotas by universities are unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. However, race remained an important factor in the applications of students (The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law 1).

Not only has affirmative Action affected millions of minorities in America, it has also affected areas around the world. In India, the Confederation of Indian Industry (or CII) have developed a one day development and career guidance program to council Indian students and citizens the physiological and behavioral skills to pursue careers in Engineering, Marketing, Business Management, Pharmacy etc. (India Public Sector News 5). 100 people will take part in the program located at the Government Higher Secondary School in Kancheepuram.

This program will soon be the stepping stone for the the country of over 1.3 billion people, all having equal opportunities for education. Omanisation is another form of Affirmative action introduced in 1992 in Oman, known for being one of the six GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries in the middle east. In Oman today, it is extremely difficult to hire efficient construction workers who have worked hard enough and have the correct skill sets to complete multi-million dollar construction projects, and in turn having almost 300,000 Omanis on an unemployment benefit.

Most construction projects done are completed by migrant workers from countries such as India, which can be much more expensive than hiring a Omani. ‘Omanisation’ in the country can not work unless the education is up to par. More and more Omanis are getting “guaranteed” passings of each skill set class and shows how poor performance can reflect in the real world projects.

The Younger family have faced similar struggles that could’ve easily been through the Affirmative action program. Walter-Lee is stuck with a dead end job as a Chauffeur to an affluent white man, while Ruth must take care of Travis and the rest of the family, cleaning the house (Hansberry 1, 45). Poor and hardly educated, Walter-Lee always dreamed of owning a liquor store, but is always forced to “eat his eggs” (Hansberry 20).

In this case, affirmative action would've been ideal for Walter Lee, giving him an equal opportunity for education and allowing him to earn a much better job opportunity and can do more than just own a liquor store. This can also be of help to Travis, the youngest in the household and the symbol of a bright future for the Younger family, at least if he gets the opportunity to succeed. Although Beneatha has hardly worked her whole life, getting a member of the Younger family into a higher institution would be a monumental achievement for the family.

The $10,000 that the mother is responsible for really determines whose dreams come true and whose doesn’t. Walter in A Raisin in the Sun explains that “Money is life” and is the reason that many people survive in a world judged by how much you make instead of the person you are (Hansberry 58). Affirmative action can make things much more affordable for the Youngers and conflict would not arise for the family, as it did throughout the entire book.

Walter was so angry at his life situation that he took the money that was made “brick by brick” by Walter Sr. to a friend in hopes to finally own the liquor store (Hansberry 125). When his friend runs off with the money, Walter is furious with himself. Six thousand dollars had gone down the drain, and Walter now had to figure out a way to get the money back into his hands. Most importantly, the racial ties between Asagai and Beneatha are very prevalent. Asagai comes from his homeland in search of someone to love and share his African culture with.

Beneatha is amused by his charm and character so she digs down deep into her own roots, dressing up in fine robes and cutting her hair short. George Murchison, a much wealthier, educated black man who dates Beneatha, is appalled by her looks and tells her that African culture is just a bunch of “Straw Huts and Fur," which later infuriates Beneatha (Hansberry 60). George Murchison represents seems to represent the cultural struggle that forced the United States government to apply affirmative action to schools around the country.

Asagai is very proud of his culture, while George is not. Affirmative Action allows people like Asagai an opportunity that someone like George refuses to give.

Affirmative action has forever changed the scope on how we look at race as a whole entity rather than separate color. We see now that if one works hard, one deserves the same amount of opportunity no matter the color of the person or the background of which he or she is from. Affirmative action gives opportunity to all who sees success as a springboard for the future of the United States and the world.

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

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Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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Dear Nancy Pelosi, 16-Year-Olds Should Not Be Able To Vote

Because I'm sure every sixteen year old wants to be rushing to the voting booth on their birthday instead of the BMV, anyways.

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Recent politicians such as Nancy Pelosi have put the voting age on the political agenda in the past few weeks. In doing so, some are advocating for the voting age in the United States to be lowered from eighteen to sixteen- Here's why it is ludicrous.

According to a study done by "Circle" regarding voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, 31% of eligible people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted. Thus, nowhere near half of the eligible voters between 18 and 29 actually voted. To anyone who thinks the voting age should be lowered to sixteen, in relevance to the data, it is pointless. If the combination of people who can vote from the legal voting age of eighteen to eleven years later is solely 31%, it is doubtful that many sixteen-year-olds would exercise their right to vote. To go through such a tedious process of amending the Constitution to change the voting age by two years when the evidence doesn't support that many sixteen-year-olds would make use of the new change (assuming it would pass) to vote is idiotic.

The argument can be made that if someone can operate heavy machinery (I.e. drive a car) at sixteen, they should be able to vote. Just because a sixteen-year-old can (in most places) now drive a car and work at a job, does not mean that they should be able to vote. At the age of sixteen, many students have not had fundamental classes such as government or economics to fully understand the political world. Sadly, going into these classes there are students that had mere knowledge of simple political knowledge such as the number of branches of government. Well, there are people above the age of eighteen who are uneducated but they can still vote, so what does it matter if sixteen-year-olds don't know everything about politics and still vote? At least they're voting. Although this is true, it's highly doubtful that someone who is past the age of eighteen, is uninformed about politics, and has to work on election day will care that much to make it to the booths. In contrast, sixteen-year-olds may be excited since it's the first time they can vote, and likely don't have too much of a tight schedule on election day, so they still may vote. The United States does not need people to vote if their votes are going to be uneducated.

But there are some sixteen-year-olds who are educated on issues and want to vote, so that's unfair to them. Well, there are other ways to participate in government besides voting. If a sixteen-year-old feels passionate about something on the political agenda but can't vote, there are other ways of getting involved. They can canvas for politicians whom they agree with, or become active in the notorious "Get Out The Vote" campaign to increase registered voter participation or help register those who already aren't. Best yet, they can politically socialize their peers with political information so that when the time comes for all of them to be eighteen and vote, more eighteen-year-olds will be educated and likely to vote.

If you're a sixteen-year-old and feel hopeless, you're not. As the 2016 election cycle approached, I was seventeen and felt useless because I had no vote. Although voting is arguably one of the easiest ways to participate in politics, it's not the only one. Since the majority of the current young adult population don't exercise their right to vote, helping inform them of how to stay informed and why voting is important, in my eyes is as essential as voting.

Sorry, Speaker Pelosi and all the others who think the voting age should be lowered. I'd rather not have to pay a plethora of taxes in my later years because in 2020 sixteen-year-olds act like sheep and blindly vote for people like Bernie Sanders who support the free college.

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