Affirmative Action

The problem of discrimination has been around since the writing of the
Declaration of Independence in 1776. The U.S. Constitution said nothing of
equality; instead, it legitimized the institution of slavery. The
Emancipation Proclamation issued January 1, 1863, set slaves in the confederate
states free. The Thirteenth Amendment permanently abolished slavery. The former
confederate states, not wanting to let go of their control over blacks,
established the restrictive Black Codes. The Civil Rights Act of 1866
proposed by Andrew Johnson was the first Civil Rights act ever written. The act
was turned down by congress. The act would have given all blacks the same rights
as whites. The issue of discrimination has been addressed in the court system
many times. Beginning with the Dred Scott v. Sanford (1) case, in which the
Supreme Court ruled, that blacks as subordinate and inferior beings, could
not constitutionally be citizens of the United States. More recently, the Bakke
case gave a look at the workings of affirmative action. A white student was
denied admission to U.C. Davis because the school had already met its quotas for
white students. Affirmative action(2) is a term coined by President of the
United States, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. In an executive order Johnson declared
that federal contractors should take affirmative action, this was to
guarantee that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during
employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin. Executive Order #11246 would increase the number of minorities
employed by federal contractors. This order would become a major policy issue
for years after it was made. Many people view affirmative action as reverse
discrimination, or as reparations made by the government to minorities for past
discrimination. It has been left up to the states own government to decide
whether or not affirmative action programs should be implemented. Most have
decided not to allow these programs. These states now have to figure out how to
make up for the unemployed minorities and loss of diversity in colleges. The
arguments against affirmative action have many aspects. A major complaint in
most arguments is the contradictions its policies support. Such as reverse
discrimination. The policies have been constructed to give women and minorities
equal opportunities in applying and being accepted in schools and jobs. Others
think that women and minorities did not earn their positions, but given a
gift, from the affirmative action programs. Another view is that women and
minorities can have their self-worth affected by these programs. They will feel
that special arrangements, need to be made because women and minorities
are biologically inferior, to white males. Another point against
Affirmative action is that it is no longer needed. Affirmative action began to
help women and minorities into the workforce, and higher education. It is
concluded that the process will continue on it is own with out the help of any
affirmative action programs. Besides reverse discrimination, affirmative action
is claimed to be the cause of promoting, in many cases, the hiring of less
skilled workers and less qualified individuals being accepted into college.

Proposals have been made to make up for the lack of minority enrollment in
higher education. One way to ensure minority representation would be to target
high poverty schools. Texas legislature was seeking a way to preserve minority
access to college. The conclusion was that the top ten percent of students in
every high school are eligible for admission to the University of Texas. In
addition, an increased use of test scores and grades as entrance standards for
everyone would help with the loss of diversity. Other proposals have been to
give applications in different languages, to have jobs offered on campuses, and
to have a list of all people that do not have jobs in the area. Affirmative
action should be implemented for sheer promotion of diversity. Some of the
greatest intellectual interactions a student experiences, are with other
students in college. If those interactions are not diverse or culturally
enriching, then every person will have a narrow experience at college. Another
reason affirmative action programs should be implemented is for the prevention
of primarily white, dominated campuses. The affirmative action policies
should be reinstated. Colleges and jobs should not look at race as the only
factor in accepting an applicant. That is true, they should look at leadership
qualities, experience, academics, and even athletics. To limit the hiring and
admission of incompetent workers and students, those other factors should be
looked at. It is a good possibility that many women and minorities could be
hired just for the simple fact that they have more experience, and is better
qualified than a white male. People blame so many things on affirmative
action. A white man did not get a job over a black or Hispanic man so he blames
it on the affirmative action programs. The black or Hispanic man may have been
better qualified for the job. Everyone deserves a chance to work and go to
school; affirmative action programs should not have to exist. There should be an
equal chance for everyone to get a job and go to school, until there is, there
will be affirmative action.

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Affirmative action

Affirmative action is a growing argument among our society. It is
multifaceted and very often defined vaguely. Some can define affirmative action
as the ability to strive for equality and inclusiveness. Others might see it as
a quota-based system for different minority groups. Affirmative action was
originally designed to help minorities (Gross, 1996). Is affirmative action
fair? Are minority groups on equal footing? Is gaining employment for minorities
difficult? Is education easily obtained for the minority groups of people?
Affirmative action endeavors to answer all these questions, while allowing
society to believe harmony exists.

Affirmative action was originally designed to help minorities, but women,
especially white women, have made the greatest gains as a result of these
programs (Boston, 1996). Is affirmative action fair? In 1974, a woman named
Rose was turned down for a supervisory job in favor of a male. She was told that
she was the most qualified person, but the position was going to be filled by a
man, because he had a family to support. Five years before that, when Rose was
about to fill an entry-level position in banking, a personnel officer outlined
the womans pay scale, which was $25 to $50 a month less than what men were
being paid in the same position. Rose was furious because she felt this was
discriminating to her. She confronted the personnel officer and he saw nothing
wrong with it. In 1977, a woman working for a company as a clerk was informed
that she should be at home raising a family. She allowed the comments to persist
until she was given two weeks notice that her position was no longer available.

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Upon leaving the position she learned the company had given the clerk position
to a man because he had a family to support. Thanks to affirmative action,
situations like the ones mentioned are becoming less frequent and employers are
correcting these situations quickly and efficiently.

Affirmative action has definitely helped women and minorities in their
careers, but it has yet to succeed in the goal of equality in the business world
for women and minorities. As more and more women are faced with discrimination
in large firms, more have decided to strike out on their own. Observers argue
that women have made huge strides with the help of affirmative action. They now
hold 40 percent of all corporate middle-management jobs, and the number of
women-owned businesses has grown by 57 percent since 1982 (Dundul, 1995).

Affirmative action was designed to give qualified minorities a chance to
compete on equal footing with Whites (Chappell, 1995). Equal opportunities
for the African Americans, for the most part, has remained more wishful-thinking
than fact. African American students are continuing to struggle for an
education. In society today, many educational institutions offer scholarships
for minorities. Ethnic minority students can further their education from the
elementary level to the Ph.D level. However, for a minority student, all the
financial assistance in the world, is not going to pay for the racial
discrimination that they may receive, while attending a white educational
facility. In 1982 a young African American man had been accepted into an Ivy
league institution. His family were proud of his achievements and his ability to
become someone great. As time progressed, our African American student dressed
like a black, walked like a black, looked like a black, but to keep well with
his professors talked, and acted like his white counterparts.

Equal opportunities for African Americans continue to be hard work and
wishful-thinking. African American business owners are still competing against
their White counterparts. Society labels and stereotypes certain ethic people.

For example, when a person enters an electronic store and the owner is white,
the person shopping continues to look at the items on the shelf. When an
individual walks into an electronic store owned by an African American, the
shopper may believe some of the items are stolen. Affirmative action is a
written law requesting that minorities have equal opportunities however, society
dictates how the opportunities will be given. African American workers are
experiencing an unemployment rate twice that of Whites.The low rate of
unemployment is due to low-income, low-education and low individual worth of
African Americans. African Americans hold dead-end, labor-intensive, low-paying
jobs. Few can argue that racism is still rampant in awarding contracts, jobs,
and educational opportunities (Chappell, 1995).

Affirmative action needs to overcome the disparities of employment that exist
in this country. A recent Urban Benchmarks study found that of 71 metro areas
surveyed nationwide, Pittsburgh had the highest rate of employment-related
problems among non-Hispanic whites


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