The brief background of affirmative action
Affirmative action is a result of the civil rights movement of more than three decades ago. The main aim of this movement is to grant equal opportunities for minorities and women in such areas as education and employment. Because of the controversy surrounding its constitutionality, the policy has often been subjected to heated debates.
The lawsuits against the University of Michigan’s Law School (Grutter vs. Bollinger) and undergraduate admissions program (Gratz vs. Bollinger), confronted the constitutionality of race as a factor in the admissions process. Barbara Grutter was denied admittance to the Michigan law school in 1996 and Jennifer Gratz was denied a place in the university’s undergraduate program in 1995. Both plaintiffs disputed that their academic qualifications and extracurricular activities should have awarded them a mark at the University. Instead of fulfilling their claims, they were subjected to a form of reverse discrimination due to affirmative action policies. The University of Michigan stated that its admissions criteria was constitutional and fostered a racially and ethnically diverse student body.
More than 300 organizations filed some 64 written briefs supporting the undergraduate and law school admissions policies at the University of Michigan. Harvard, Microsoft, and General Norman Schwarzkopf were among the many proponents of the program that included academics, labour unions, Fortune 500 companies, and more than 30 retired military personnel. All stated that a racially diverse, well-educated workforce was essential to the success of their operations.
Affirmative action is mistaken and is not able to solve the problem of racial minorities. One of the reasons is that the policy of affirmative action is discriminative itself, and provides deeper discrimination. It makes more harm than use in present-day society. Moreover, lots of people do not enjoy it and do not see it to be advantageous. Also, it appears that affirmative action can actually be damaging to employees health. First of all, affirmative action is discrimination, there is no denying it. When a student is taken because he or she is a minority, even if someone else is more qualified, it is discrimination. It is called reverse discrimination when whites are discriminated against and minorities are being discriminated against. Affirmative action legalizes discrimination. Also, if this discrimination continues, racism in the United States may worsen. Just imagine your feelings, when you can not enter a university or apply for a job even just because you are white, but not black or Hispanic. Thus, the policy of affirmative action is contradictory, as trying to prevent racism, it provides the “reverse racial discrimination” and this way worsens the attitude of whites towards all the black. It is possible that because of affirmative action, racism will continue to grow until history repeats itself and our society ends up living under Jim Crow laws again. Discrimination is harmful in both ways, when blacks were the ones getting the short end of the stick, or when whites are discriminated against. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Affirmative action in college is the most discriminating thing this country has ever seen since the Jim Crow laws many years ago. At ivy league colleges the medium GPA of applicants in UC-Berkeley is close to 4.0 and S.A.T.’s are close to 1300, minorities are let in with GPA’s less than 3.0 and S.A.T.’s less than 1000. The only way for colleges to gain ethnic proportionalism is to downplay or abandon merit criteria and to accept students from typically underrepresented groups, such as blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians, over better-qualified students from whites and Asian Americans.
Most evidently, affirmative action is allowing non-educated, or undereducated citizens to get into college the qualified enough people aren’t getting accepted. When the equal opportunities law was accepted, it did not claim to treat different races differently, it means that all people should be treated as equals, affirmative action violates this statement. If we simplify acceptance standards for minorities, we should set up the same standards for everyone. But in spite of that nobody regards that we should raise the standard for minorities.
Moreover, if affirmative action gets its way, it will do more harm than good. If low-qualified students are accepted to any university, most probably they will be sent down, and more qualified will enter instead. That is why, affirmative action is a short term action, and will not be able to live long. Also, affirmative action doesn’t work because it doesn’t change anything. If there is racism nowadays, then racism will always be present and affirmative action will not be able to change anything. Furthermore, if we need to discriminate against whites to give jobs to minorities now, affirmative action will only worsen the situation, and deepen racism.
Only enrolling more minorities in Berkley does not mean coping with racism. If someone is not good enough to get into a college, he/she is out of the league when they get in. Only 150f black and 220f Hispanic affirmative action students accepted to Berkeley in 2000 graduated. To give minorities a better life we have to fix the moral decay caused by the absence of two-parent families to help minorities.
Affirmative action is usually regarded as discriminatory by minorities themselves, as they need help to enter University, and they feel inferior, or inadequate for the university they are entering. It is much better, when a student realizes, he/she has been accepted because he/she is suitable and qualified, but not Hispanic or black.
Affirmative action alone will not be able to solve the problems faced by minorities. In combination with these policies, public education must be improved so that the problems of minorities (mainly African Americans) are hit both through increased opportunities for jobs and increased the qualification for those positions. Affirmative action alone creates a position in which people receive jobs or enter universities exclusively on the basis of race.
The fact is, the USA is a state with great national diversity, and while the affirmative action programs are founded on very worthy goals, America can not achieve social equality, or even agreement, by yielding privileges to one group over another. Perhaps, instead of having quotas imposed on them, businesses suspected of discrimination could have their hiring practices monitored by an outside official from the government, or be penalized through fines and restrictions.
- Ezorsky, Gertrude. Racism and Justice: The Case for Affirmative Action. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.
- Graham, Hugh Davis. Collision Course: The Strange Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
- Lynch, Frederick R. Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action. New York: Praeger, 2004.
- Raza, M. Ali, A. Janell Anderson, and Harry Glynn Custred. The Ups and Downs of Affirmative Action Preferences. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2006.