A simple message

Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2001

Affirmative Action is a dormant issue, but still needs debating and deliberation. Affirmative Action may well lead to new insight to help resolve the issues we face today in Alaska. I believe everyone should have equal rights. Hearing arguments for both sides, and aware of the biases I may possess in my advocacy for Native rights, there was one argument that kept me from deciding in either direction of what side to support.

The argument that kept me from drawing a clear conclusion about whether to be for or against the act of putting people into jobs or schools based, in part, on their racial and national heritage was this: Is it not unfair to have a preference of two equally qualified people based on the color of their skin?

That is a fair question. But through long pondering and deliberation have I finally concluded an answer to that question, one night ago: An employer or university does have a requirement for individual skills. However, individual skills are not and should not be the only area considered. An organization that represents the public population of the area it belongs to must consider the whole body of its work or educational environment. Different, fresh perspectives can only add to that whole. Therefore, it would only serve the organization in a great way to have the body of the organization fit with the body of the population that it serves. In that way, a person of color may add well to a group with his perspective, as well as individual skills.

It is not out of racial victimhood, or prejudice, or a thriving need for racial reparations that I have drawn a conclusion. It is out of long, careful, thoughtful consideration for the good of the whole, our state, Alaska. Do you understand how thoughtful consideration for the whole transcends the duality of modern-day politics? Right vs. left. Conservative vs. liberal. Republicans vs. Democrats. Rural vs. urban. White vs. Native. I expect and demand my leadership to say, in words and action, "I am not against any one person or group personally. How could I be? We are all Alaskans, and I am here to serve Alaska. We may disagree on issues, but first this must be understood."

It is a simple message, but one that I, along with the public, would like to hear as often as possible.

Ishmael Charles Hope


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