At its most objective definition, affirmative action entails "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." Affirmative action acknowledges the presence of institutionalized and systematic forms of discrimination: which may not be apparent to members of the dominant or privileged culture. For example, white males will not even notice that no Blacks serve on the boards of directors in companies he works for. Affirmative action is a policy that seeks to correct institutionalized and systematic discrimination by seeing to it that diversity is both a means and an end. To deny the validity of affirmative action would be to deny that racism or sexism still exist. Given that human beings exhibit poor judgement based on their background, upbringing, and psychological biases, and given the presence of institutionalized discrimination, affirmative action remains an important and meaningful policy.
Affirmative action achieves several goals that are Constitutionally-supported as well as being ideologically sound in a democratic nation. First, affirmative action places non-white minorities and women into visible and practical positions of power so that they serve as role models for youth. Second, affirmative action places non-white minorities and women into positions of power so that they can make decisions based on their core values rather than continue to submit to the dominant culture or the core values shared only by the existing white male hegemony. Third, affirmative action reduces the impact of institutionalized and systematic discrimination, which tracks non-white students into vocational rather than erudite scholarly paths or tracks females into the path of domestic servitude.
Affirmative action corrects the imbalances in the existing power structure by ensuring access to positions of power by those typically excluded such as non-whites and females. Sykes (2010) defines affirmative action as "the set of public policies and initiatives designed to help eliminate past and present discrimination based on race, color, religion, equal opportunity then affirmative action remains a necessary public policy. Equal access and equal opportunity are not yet guaranteed without affirmative action because of subconscious discrimination or bias and because of institutionalized or systematic discrimination.
The major strength of an argument in favor of affirmative action is that the policies help the United States truly live up to its ideal of freedom, liberty, and equality. Whereas the Constitution guarantees freedom, liberty, and equality, the document does not outline exactly how those goals may be achieved. Affirmative action is one method by which the United States can achieve that goal. Left to the discretion of private institutions and employers, discrimination continues to prevent non-whites and women from achieving social, economic, and political parity. A glass ceiling is still preventing the manifestation of American ideals.
The major weaknesses of the affirmative action argument are as follows. First, quota systems of affirmative action reduce the importance of merit on admissions or selections procedures. Quota systems have been a small part of affirmative action programs. Second, as the playing field does become more level, affirmative action will need to be phased out gradually. It will be difficult to know when and how to draw that line. Third, Barack Obama did not become President of the United States because of affirmative action and therefore the policy might not be as efficacious or necessary as presumed. Fourth, affirmative action can be misconstrued as "reverse racism" or "reverse sexism."
The values that are embraced by affirmative action include all those that underwrite the American value system. Equality of opportunity is the most important value that affirmative action policies uphold. Affirmative action is by definition a set of policies that ensures equality of opportunity.
Affirmative action does potentially and ironically undermine the value of equality. In fact, some affirmative action policies may take place of a pure meritocracy by offering preferential treatment. If non-whites and females are given preferential treatment, then they are not being allowed to be judged on their own merits. Therefore, affirmative action is detracting from the very values it seeks to promote. Theoretically, true equality actually suffers when affirmative action policies are in place because not all applicants are being treated equally.
The best rebuttal against affirmative action is that…
Actually, state agencies and institutions of higher learning have continued to rely upon the Supreme Court decisions and federal legislation to enforce the policies of affirmative action since 1978. While there are no definitive answers on whether affirmative action policies and programs are necessary, scholars and civic leaders have been engaged in hot debates to determine the implications of measures to dismantle affirmative action policies and programs. There are various
Affirmative Action: Why We Need to Reform It It is widely believed that the American society is a "melting pot" where members of racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities eventually mold into the mainstream, becoming full-fledged citizens of the country. The reality, however, is much more complicated. While it is true that America offers many opportunities to all its citizens, there is a history of discrimination against minority groups that affects
Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity The policies of affirmative action aiming at assisting the black Americans are of recent origin. The policies have sought its origin to varied sources like legal structure, executive instructions, and court rulings. It was during the last three decades that these policies were being developed and they have become debatable as well. (Legal History) During the last three decades of the nineteenth century, a large number of African-Americans
With this ruling the Court upheld legality of affirmative action. In considering the reasoning behind the Court's upholding of the highly debated principle, the rationale was that to remedy past discrimination, a program that is race-based must be put into effect. Clearly, the Court was concerned with becoming intertwined in the daily administration of academic programs, and the same would have likely held true for the workplace. The Bakke case had
Hence, it is important for the proper application of the AA idea that those who make the anti-discrimination and AA policies understand both sides of the story and both the discriminator's and the victim's perspectives. So, in essence those groups of people who disagree on certain ideas or approaches towards justice must try to adopt an unbiased approach to understanding the reason behind the existence of the differences and
Affirmative Action Plan It is a fact that there has been discrimination in employment, where minorities, women, veterans and the disabled are sidelined in favor of the rest of the population. This ought to be provided with equitable access to employment opportunities and this is exactly what affirmative action plan does. By statistical analyses of the demographics, affirmative action programs are able to do away with the negative effects of employment