The wealth gap, aka wealth inequality is, "the unequal distribution of assets among residents of the United States" according to Wikipedia. The median amount of wealth white families have is $134,000, where Hispanics have a median of $13,900, and blacks $11,000. Yes, these numbers have a shockingly large range, but race doesn't define wealth and vice versa. It is a correlation without causation.
Affirmative action is defined as "an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups" by the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Forty two states have yet to ban colleges from using affirmative action as a way to make their school more diverse, eliminating opportunities for kids of the same intelligence and qualifications, just because of their race.
In my opinion, there is a much better way to settle who should get into a college and who shouldn't; part of it should be based on ones upbringing and economic situation. Socioeconomic factors are completely overlooked where affirmative action is in play. Going back to my definition earlier, affirmative action is about race, not wealth, so colleges claiming that affirmative action is about helping the minorities because they are less fortunate is not always true. Even though the median wealth is much different from race to race, there are 19 million poor whites compared to 10.3 million poor blacks, and 12.8 million poor Hispanics. Together, those 42 million people should be getting the special treatment because of their financial hardships. Just because you are black, Hispanic, Indian, etc. does not mean that you are poor! So why should a minority person be taken over a white person with the same grades just because of their race? Is it because colleges are assuming they have a lot less money? Or is it just because they want their statistics to look more diverse.
Graduating high school at age 16 with a 4.3 GPA and a 32 on her ACT, Ashley was a great student. In addition to her high grades, she participated in many extra curricular activities. She was accepted into every college she applied to. She also happened to be black. She didn't want her race to get her into college, because she is intelligent and didn't need it, but she knew that it would be in play no matter what. Once in college, she worked very hard and had many achievements; however, she was still scared of having an off day or answering incorrectly in class, because she didn't want her classmates to think that she was dumb and only got into the college because of her skin color.
Ashley was very self conscious about the possibility of being shamed because of the perception that she was admitted based on the color of her skin. Affirmative action made her feel like she was given special treatment and she didn't really get in on her own merits. She felt that she needed to demonstrate that she was worthy of being in that classroom at all times. Ashley just wants to be seen as herself, with her own talents. Rather than aiding her, it caused her achievements to seem illegitimate. Ashley felt the need to work twice as hard to overcome the stigma as classmates were not able to see past the color of her skin and didn't respect her.
An example on the other side of the spectrum is a white young woman named Katuria Smith. Katuria grew up in poverty, her mom had her when she was just seventeen. Her father and stepfather were both alcoholics and not working; her mom was not in her life. Katuria had to support herself and lived on any job she could get. When Katuria turned twenty one, she was determined to get out of poverty. She enrolled in the local community college and took night classes in a paralegal program while she worked her day jobs. She graduated community college and enrolled in the University of Washington where she earned an undergraduate degree with a 3.65 GPA. Katuria wanted to go to law school and took the LSAT and she scored 165. She applied to the University of Washington Law School where she thought she would get in because of her background, financial hardship, and hard work. Instead, she was denied.
Katuria was denied because of the university's longing to boost their campus diversity. In the selection of students, minority applications where put in a separate section that had lower admission standards, giving them a better chance than Katuria to get in. Despite her financial circumstances, she obtained no special treatment because she is white, and would make their statistics look too mainstream. She would have gotten in if she had been born a different race; the dean even admitted this to her, he said she had the qualifications and the "story" but because she wasn't the "preferred race," she was put below minorities.
Race shouldn't be a deciding factor for anything that comes within yourself. No minority with the same qualifications as a white person should be put above them, and vise versa. Whoever proves to be a better fit should be the person to get the opportunity. Everyone should be looked at beyond their skin color, this this is why socioeconomic background should play more of a role in who gets into college and who doesn't. People like Katuria shouldn't be denied admission to a college because they are white. Everyone is created equal, and large or small percentages of a race in a college shouldn't be seen as bad, someone who gets into a college shouldn't think they got their because of their race: they should be confident and proud that they got in as who they are and if they had to work extra hard by coming from a poor family with a low income, they should be recognized and given what they deserve.