Affirmative Action: The Debate Rages On

817 words - 4 pages

In its thirty nine year history, affirmative action has been viewed as a milestone by supporters, and a millstone by opponents. Others regard it as both or neither -- as an essential, but deficient, cure for an intractable social disease. Established in 1965 by President Johnson, it was method of rectifying discrimination that had continued regardless of civil rights laws and constitutional promises. (Legal History) According a poll by the Public Agenda, 79% of Americans said it is important for colleges to have a racially diverse student body, while just 54% said affirmative action programs should continue. In a Gallup poll, 49% of adults said they are in favor of affirmative action and 43% were not. Blacks and Hispanics were more likely to be in favor of the procedure than whites. (USATODAY)The actual expression "affirmative action" was initially used in President Lyndon Johnson's Executive Order #11246, which required each federal department to develop a "positive program of equal employment opportunity" regardless of race or color. It also required federal service providers to take "affirmative action" to guarantee non-discrimination in hiring, recruitment, rates of pay, and promotion. Johnson amended Executive Order #11246 in 1967 to incorporate affirmative action for women (Legal History)One of the fallacies about affirmative action is that it allows unqualified minorities to get into college based exclusively on their race. Affirmative action coerces universities to admit qualified minorities. Ethnic background is not the essential component; they look at volunteer work, scholastic scores, sports, extra-curricular activities, honors, essays, SAT scores, and economic background of all applicants. In 1996, Proposition 209 ended Affirmative Action in California. Since then, there has been a sharp drop in the admittance of minority students. At UCLA there was 43% drop in African-American enrollment and a 33% drop in Latino enrollment. At Berkeley, a 60% drop for African-Americans and a 59% drop for Latinos were observed. 1,200 African-American, Latino, and Native American applicants with an average GPA of 4.0 and an average SAT score of 1280 were denied entrance to UCLA and Berkeley. A recent analysis by the University of Chicago and MIT found that resumes with so-called "white-sounding" names such as Jennifer or Matthew got 50 % more responses than ones with so-called "black-sounding" names such as LaQuisha or DeVante. (Take Affirmative)Another myth is that if Jewish people and Asian Americans can advance economically, African Americans should be able to do the same. But this comparison overlooks the history of inequity against Black people in America. "Blacks have a 380yr-year history on this continent: 245 involving slavery, 100 involving legalized discrimination, and only 30 involving anything else", pointed out by historian Roger Wilkins. (Wilkins, 1995). Conversely, Jews and Asians are people that immigrated, free willed, to North America. Among them were doctors, lawyers, professors, and entrepreneurs. Additionally, European Jews are able to blend into the White majority. To expect Blacks to show the same progress as Jews and Asians is to disagree with the historical and social reality that Black people face. (Ten Myths)An issue that arises with affirmative action is reverse discrimination. A poll that was taken showed Americans extremely divided over whether affirmative action actually hurts white males. 51 percent of those interviewed said white men had been unfavorably affected by preference programs, while 46 percent disagreed. 19 percent of Blacks interviewed also agreed that affirmative action also hurt white males. Many minorities articulated apprehension that white obsession with affirmative action blinds whites to qualifications of minorities and women, who become lumped together as "preference hires" instead of realizing that they had worked hard for their jobs or promotions and status. (Ten Myths)The main problem of affirmative action is the public is not familiar with the real meaning of the phrase and the law behind it. People dispute that affirmative action means the best qualified person will not be hired or that a minority will get hired over a more qualified white person just to fill a quota but that is not the case. It cannot be argued sensibly that white males are discriminated against if they are overrepresented in most high rank positions. So, in anticipation of equal opportunity and rational allocation of advancement, training, and education to all Americans, affirmative action in favor of minorities and women will be necessary to oppose the hundreds of years of affirmative action that has been intended for white males. (Affirmative Action Works)Work Cited"Ten Myths about Affirmative Action". UnderstandingPredjudice. March 5, 2004Kivel, Paul. "Affirmative Action Works". InMotion Magazine. March 5, 2004."Legal History". March 2, 2004.


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