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C. Paul Luongo's Published Columns

Friday, September 08, 2006

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action in education shows rising support in America (56% vs 49% in 1995). Yet quality often suffers because of equality. Furthermore, it stamps all minorities with a badge of inferiority. Why should educators lower the grade expectations of students just because of their race? That’s prejudice in reverse.

Why should a student be denied admission to an academic institution to make room for a minority student not as qualified? (Or vice versa). Education is a gateway to success in American society and should not be denied those qualified.

When Americans are applying for jobs, employers don’t consider race (it’s illegal) and therefore the fact that the minority student didn’t do as well as its counterpart is not considered. Just intelligence and ability. Isn’t that what really matters?

When I was entering the advertising business on Madison Avenue, I was only 1 of 4 Italian Account Executives with a blue-chip 4-A Advertising Agency (Young & Rubicam).

Italians were O.K. to be in the Art or Creative Departments but not good enough to be in client contact with Anglo-Saxon, Protestant clients such as Proctor & Gamble, General Foods, Chrysler Corporation. But I didn’t let this interfere with my goals.

Blacks weren’t even allowed in the mailrooms. Women were only hired on “female accounts” such as the Personal Products division of Johnson & Johnson. Rich “connected” kids form Ivy League schools where hired for the mailroom at $60 a week and it was considered a “prestigious job” to be on Madison Avenue with a blue chip advertising agency. Jews were not allowed and therefore started their own agencies with Anglo-Saxon types to front for them.

I persevered and finally remained in the business and here I am 38 years later in the Public Relations business … one I never thought of entering in my youth.

My, we’ve come a long way since then. When I opened my Advertising, Marketing, Sales Promotion & Public Relations Agency in 1964 I never toyed with the idea of calling my agency by any other name, which as you can see is of Italian origin. C. Paul Luongo Company, Public Relations & Marketing, Boston.

I didn’t run to the ACLU, Italian-American Leagues, or any other ethnic support group. I did it on my own, on my own terms, and while difficult, (and it still is) I accomplished my objectives without having to rely on affirmation action rules which I think are harmful for people to deal with and expect special consideration in life because of their race, creed or color. It spoils them. Then they expect special treatment in life which is ephemeral.
Success is a 4-letter word spelled w-o-r-k and without it you won’t get ahead. There are no short cuts to success. Regardless of race, color or gender. If you’ve got it … by God, flaunt it with careful style and intelligence. Don’t depend on others to do your dirty work. Don’t run to racial or religious groups for help. Be independent.

Don’t think of yourself as an African-American or Asian American or Spanish-American. I never did. I am an American. Period. Forget labels. Forget everything but your intelligence, fortitude, persistence, ambition, goals and dedication to a standard of principles to move you forward for a speedy, successful life. Labels are for loafers. Be smart. Start today to overcome any liabilities you may have and remember the refrain from that old song ... you've got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

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