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Affirmative Action Research Paper

2892 words - 12 pages

In 1960, African-Americans enjoyed neither the economic nor the social standing of the rest of America. They had no access to high-level employment and received about two-thirds the pay of whites for doing the same work. Additionally, the small number of blacks attending colleges or universities lent little optimism for the future. Socially they fared no better. "Black only" restrooms, drinking fountains, and schools reflected the harsh reality that, in America, all men are not equal. Since the time of the founding fathers, this fact has haunted the American conscious, but has unfortunately, never been fully addressed. Finally, the old American policy of avoiding the race issue came to an ...view middle of the document...

Second, Nancy Stein edits the scholarly journals CrossRoads and Social Justice in which she refutes many of the arguments against preferential treatment. As a white male in the South, Auburn University professor James Buford makes the case that "affirmative action" still applies today, despite the elimination of most direct racism. Law professor Jamin Raskin also supports the continued use of "affirmative action" to eliminate the noticeable financial gap between whites and minorities. Finally, long time civil rights promoter Jessie Jackson tells why race-consciousness is still necessary today.On the other side, Congressman and leading advocate of the Civil Rights Act of 1997, Charles Canady explains why "affirmative action" is inconsistent with the beliefs of its creators and an illegitimate program in American society. Carl Cohen, philosophy professor at the University of Michigan, conveys his observations of preferential treatment in college admissions. American history expert Herman Belz argues that current practices which give privileges on the basis of group identity are unconstitutional. As an African-American and chairman of the California Civil Rights Initiative of 1996, Ward Connerly suggests that "affirmative action" was meant to be temporary and no longer serves beneficial purposes. Lastly, author Steven Yates traces "affirmative action's" transformation from a moral venture into a system of quotas and compromised standards.The first topic of debate argues the question, "Is affirmative action an un-American system of reverse discrimination that departs from its original sentiment, or is the idea of color-blindness a fantasy that ignores the necessity for preferential treatment?"Opponents unanimously agree that the original form of "affirmative action" spelled out in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which provided qualified blacks with opportunities denied by Jim Crow and pronounced preferences on the basis of race invalid and unlawful, was a morally sound initiative. However, some doubted whether this was enough -- whether blacks had the resources to fully take advantage after being subjugated for so long. The Nixon Administration reevaluated this subject and conveyed their conclusions in the Philadelphia Plan which legalized racial preferences for federal contracts, setting the precedent for a new "affirmative action" (Canady, 4). Supporters praised the change as a decisive step to undo the effects of systematic discrimination. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "One cannot ask people who don't have boots to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps" (Jenkins, 1). Now the Philadelphia Plan gave the push-start many blacks needed to being reaping the benefits of new legislation.Others did not view the Philadelphia Plan so favorably. To begin with, they claimed preferential treatment contradicted nearly two-hundred years of American principles dating back to the Declaration of Independence's proclamation of "natural rights" and the...

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