The recent attack upon Affirmative Action in the workplace demands that merit be the sole criterion of employment. Policies designed to eliminate discriminatory practices are in themselves discriminatory and suggest minorities are inferior. Such suggestions are archaic and simplistic. Each assumes that the workplace operates in a social vacuum when in fact a complex system of cultural norms precedes the influence of merit. For African-Americans color is a predcedent of merit. The present study was undertaken to determine the implications of color in the workplace by analyzing it vis a vis occupational aspiration. Using a sample of African- American college students, it was found that these students aspired to more prestigious occupations correlated with light skin. The apparent pervasiveness of this phenomenon requires it be addressed as an issue for social work and policy formulation.

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