Positive discrimination, an eternal question

By • on July 20, 2012

Some criticize positive discrimination out of pride, others because it is breaking the law and leading to the discrimination of the majority. However, ordinary Roma in need of work would welcome positive discrimination with open arms. As Ľuba Bajzová from the Humenné region explains with a lot of common sense: “If we can be discriminated against in the work market because of our skin tone and ethnicity, which is after all unconstitutional, why can’t we be discriminated positively as well? Both approaches stir up passionate debates. But positive discrimination would at least enable us to work instead of being dependent on social welfare. I do have an education so where are my equal chances and the equal starting line?”  Mrs. Bajzová asks.

She is not the only one who would welcome positive discrimination in the work market. Many Roma from East Slovakia suffer because of long-term debts. They are heavily indebted because today’s standards make it impossible to live on social benefits. The benefits of positive discrimination in universities are questionable but I personally would welcome it in the work market, even if the majority would be against it. Our society would thus stop using racist reasons to portray Roma as its black sheep. I also think that with time it would also become obvious that Roma are not lazy and useless. Many people would not be happy with this but at least it would alleviate some negative tensions already present in society. The living standards could rise again and the middle class, which became the victim of poverty in the 1990s, could return. Actually, anybody who wants to delve into the issue without prejudices, should do research on the number of Roma who travel to the Czech Republic in order to find work.

But what if there was enough work for them at home? I do understand but do not support the argument that positive discrimination would not be accepted by the majority in our society and would cause hatred towards Roma. I agree with Mrs. Bajzová that if society can silently discriminate Roma according to some unwritten rule and consider it a normal action, why cannot positive discrimination become normal in the work market? It could only lead to  positive changes in the economical sphere and would ease the climb on the social ladder for Roma. Or is it easier to silence the minority, and let the majority have its say? And is it because of prejudice, or because it is better to maintain the poor Roma communities, the unemployed Roma loiterers and wasters on the dole?

I am aware that the issue of positive discrimination is opening a can of worms. But let’s be honest to ourselves – what is the discrimination against Roma then? Is it easier for our society to do that instead of giving them a chance? Why should positive discrimination be wrong and discrimination, even though unconstitutional, a widespread practice? Discrimination augments negative aspects already present in our society, so why support it, fearful of what might happen if we substitute it with positive discrimination? Is it normal to ban chances for a better life? This is what discrimination does together with the people supporting it.