What happened when a columnist learned affirmative action was used to hire her

Michelle Singletary recalls her boss telling her, “I hired you because you were Black. I also hired you because you’re getting your master’s degree in business. I hired you because you grew up in an inner city neighborhood, so you were raised by a low income grandmother, so you have a sensitivity to people who don’t come from money. I hired you because you have expertise in bankruptcy.” Photo courtesy of Michelle Singletary

California voters banned affirmative action in 1996. This year, Proposition 16 would repeal that decision and allow affirmative action to be used in hiring and college admissions. Voters are apparently split, according to opinion surveys. Proponents say it evens the playing field, helping women and people of color compete in a world that favors white men. Opponents say affirmative action suggests they can’t make it without special treatment and gives unqualified people an unfair advantage.

Michelle Singletary discovered affirmative action was used to hire her nearly 30 years ago. She’s a personal finance columnist for the Washington Post. Her recent column is headlined “Yes, I was hired because I was Black. But that’s not the only reason."

Credits

Guest:
Michelle Singletary - Washington Post Personal Finance Columnist

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin