America is a melting pot of cultures, not a buffet. We can't pick and choose who is offered advancement and who is left behind based on outward appearances and origins.According to the Sanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Affirmative Action means positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education and business from which they have been historically excluded."The idea of affirmative action sounds pretty swell, but when employers and colleges select individuals who will gain admittance to their programs based primarily on the applicant's gender or race -- or even lower their standards to let more of the desired group through the preliminary round of examination -- they cross the line from trying to promote racial equality to engaging in reverse discrimination.Affirmative action policies are a thing of the past. Such policies were valid solutions decades ago, when racism and discrimination were at all time highs and something had to be done to prompt interracial assimilation. Thankfully, our society has now broadened its acceptance of people of different backgrounds and has reached the point where affirmative action policies are no longer needed to promote diversity.Now, these policies are only working to perpetuate the use of race in situations such as being hired for a job or being accepted into college. Race should have nothing to do with the opportunities presented to you.Applicants should be accepted based on their own achievements, skills and reputation, not where their ancestors came from or the color of their skin. Once in school or on the job, personal accomplishments should be the determining factors for advancement and triumph. Those admitted by lower standards will struggle to keep up with others and will suffer from the policies that were meant to help them prosper. Jobs and college admissions should be given to the individual who possesses the expertise best suited for the post, not who would look best in the institution's statistics or on its recruitment posters.All men and women are created equal, regardless of race; therefore all have potential to succeed in life. Environmental factors related to parental involvement and financial security can present obstacles in the path to success, but people of all races face the possibility of being born into unsavory conditions.Individuals must push themselves to rise above these stumbling blocks by the strength of their will, unrelenting hard work and perseverance over adversity. Affirmative action policies, which claim to accommodate people who were born into disadvantageous positions, are wrongfully compensating based on race or gender.A positive way to reduce remnants of discrimination would be to eliminate inquiries like gender and race/nationality on applications and standardized tests, rather than doling out preferential treatment based on the responses. In other parts of the world, experimental programs have gone so far as to make applications completely anonymous, without name, age, gender or other information that could detract from the personnel department's consideration for granting the applicant an interview.The French company L'Oreal is a leader in this anti-discriminatory front. Oliver Sonntag, its European head of human resources, told news publication Spiegel Online in 2010 that it is working diligently "to avoid making any subconscious decisions during the selection of applicants." Our country's enrollment and employment agencies should follow these luminary companies and advance in the same direction. To create a fair community, we need to level the playing field by omitting the differences between applicants, other than their qualifications and experience.Institutions should cast out their nets into the pool of people vying for the few positions available and chose to hire or admit them based solely on their merit and ability to fulfill the tasks set before them. America was founded on the notion that everyone can make their fortune by the sweat of their brow and the strength of their will. Now, this fundamental ideal is under attack by overzealous do-gooders who do not realize that, in their attempt to quell racism and promote equality, they are actually perpetuating a horrendous social evil: discrimination.