Affirmative Action

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.

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“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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