Affirmative action policies are policies that organizations and institutions use to improve opportunities for individuals who have historically been excluded in the American society. Affirmative action policies are emphatic on education and employment. Affirmative action policies have been used to improve access to education among the groups of individuals who have historically been underrepresented. Affirmative action policies are a product of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement that intended to ensure that minority groups are accorded equal opportunities in employment and academics. In such a case, they have been playing a vital role in addressing racial discrimination in the United States for years since they counter bias by redressing past wrongs. This paper addresses the importance of affirmative action in the United States based on the fact it has increased chances of racially oppressed people to access good housing and social amenities, promoted the access of employment opportunity, and improved diversity in the education system in the United States.
Affirmative action policies have played a major role in helping African Americans have a better life. The policies have improved access to good housing and social amenities that previously were not easy to access by racial minorities. A primary objective of affirmative action is to foster social justice. Proponents of affirmative action affirm that for nearly four centuries, African Americans were treated to racial subordination and racial subjugation and that despite efforts being made to fight racial discrimination, the problem persists. Proponents of affirmative action policies state that in reality, race matters in the United States. In such a case, it is one of the factors that influence how people acquire jobs and access housing. Also, it is a significant factor that determines how poor people become. There is a need for affirmative action policies to compensate individuals who for centuries have been victims of social, racial and economic oppression (Bollinger par 5-8). In concurrence with Bollinger, it is also found that without Affirmative action many African Americans would not have ever lived a better life. Affirmative action is significant, albeit a small way of compensating victims of slavery, racial segregation during Jim Crow era and all forms of discrimination that African Americans grappled with for a long time. Affirmative action policies play a major role in ensuring that there is an inclusion of all and due to their influence, many African American’s lives have improved for the better (Jackson N. pag.).
Affirmative action policies have played a major role in improving chances of African Americans access to good employment opportunities. Affirmative action policies were created to address the problem of racial discrimination on the promise of equal opportunity for all Americans. Employment obstacles have been eliminated courtesy of affirmative action, and millions of African Americans have been able to enter the job market. Doors that locked African Americans from improving their lives have been opened, and there has been the growth of African-Americans in the middle class. Jackson states that affirmative action policies are an American triumph and at no time should they be squashed (N. pag.). He further notes that “racial discrimination is prevalent in the housing sector, the education sector, the banking sector and in employment opportunities. Affirmative action does not mean the hiring of unqualified individuals based on race.” Therefore, affirmative action is meant to ensure that all Americans who are often excluded by race are included in America’s education system, employment opportunities, and access public services. Jackson disagrees with critics of affirmative action who argue that affirmative action oppresses white men. In this case, some individuals argue that affirmative action has been creating opportunities for African- Americans under the guise that they are economically and socially disadvantaged at the expense of white men who are economically disadvantaged. Disagreeing with Jackson, Weier notes that critics of affirmative action claim that time for affirmative action is over and that the only way racial discrimination in the American society should be addressed is through attacking of racial disparities (N. pag.). Critics argue that affirmative action works against economically disadvantaged Caucasians and works for economically advantaged minorities. Critics argue that race is not an appropriate method of remedying obvious inequities that are prevalent in the American society stating that “it is an old vehicle whose usefulness has already been outlived.” However, the observation is not the same for all. According to a nationally known opponent of affirmative action, Ward Connerly, affirmative action has fuelled anger and resentment among the American populace who feel that affirmative action has worked against them by promoting the welfare of African Americans at the expense of other races. Connerly states that an alternative approach to dealing with affirmative action could be by targeting low-income neighborhoods and trying to help people in those neighborhoods irrespective of their racial affiliations. Connerly further argues that affirmative action is in contravention of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In this case, due to the impact of affirmative action, there is no equal treatment of people belonging to different races.
Affirmative action policies have for a long time been used to promote diversity in America’s higher education system. Many African-Americans who would have otherwise not accessed higher education have been able to access education courtesy of affirmative action policies. There are huge disparities in the American higher education system with racial minorities at a disadvantage in access to higher education. Supporters of affirmative action state that it has increased admission of minority applicants in colleges and universities. Affirmative action has also ensured that graduates who were beneficiaries of affirmative action get good paying jobs and go ahead to live better lives. Diversity in higher education has also been improved courtesy of affirmative action. American universities have for a long time used affirmative action in their admission procedures. As a requirement in its admission policy, the University of Wisconsin is also sensitive to the case of marginalization and underrepresentation. As a policy, it evaluates whether an applicant is socio-economically disadvantaged or whether he or she comes from a racial or ethnic group that is underrepresented before admission.
Affirmative action is necessary to ensure that all students regardless of their racial affiliation have equal opportunities in accessing quality education. According to Bollinger racial discrimination still exists in school districts despite efforts by Affirmative action policies to address the issue. He illustrates that 40% of racial minorities that include black and Hispanics attend K-12 schools, but it is only 10% of their classmates are white (Par 8-9). As such, it is no doubt that racial segregation is a dominant element within the United States education system. When there was a ban on affirmative action in California’s public universities years ago, a sharp decline concerning African-American’s representation in California’s public universities was experienced. Courtesy of racial discrimination in America’s higher education system, few racial minorities hold college degrees when compared to racial majorities. A related illustration concerns Fisher v. University of Texas case where Abigail Fisher charged the University of Texas claiming that use of affirmative action in admissions had worked against her and she had been discriminated because of her race. Fisher’s application to the University of Texas in 2008 had been declined. The University of Texas takes into account the race and ethnicity of its applicants among other factors in admitting a small portion of its students. However, the major admission program for the university is known as the top 10 percent program where students who graduate at the near top of their high school class are admitted. As an illustration example, the University of Texas admits three-quarters of its students by use of a procedure that guarantees admission to top 10% of students in every high school in the state. The rest of the students at the University of Texas are admitted by use of alternative and ‘holistic’ criteria where race is one of them (Cornish N. pag.). The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the University of Texas stating “its comprehensive admissions use of affirmative action is totally constitutional.” The Supreme Court ruled that institutions can consider applicants racial affiliations as part of the admission procedures without being prejudicial against someone else. The Supreme Court further suggested that in their admissions, universities should prove that consideration of race in admissions is necessary for achieving educational benefits of diversity and that there are no alternatives to achieve such benefits (Sanchez Par 3). In a similar observation about discrimination, Nittle argues that Asian Americans have been excluded from affirmative action benefits yet they are a racial minority group (Par 3). Besides, among Asian Americans, there are those who are economically disadvantaged and those who are economically advantaged. Furthermore, according to Nittle, more than two-thirds of African students in Harvard University come from Africa and the Caribbean and are not descendants of individuals who endured slavery and other forms of segregation (Par 6-7). According to Nittle (Par 6), studies have revealed that a large percentage of the black population colleges and Universities are either immigrants’ children or immigrants and not descendants of slaves. In a differing observation, Sacks & Thiel assert that there is a need to abolish the use of affirmative action at Stanford University since it discriminates and favor racial minorities. They claim that discrimination was evident in admission procedures, in hiring, in contracting and in financial aid, and rather than fostering integration and harmony, use of affirmative action has promoted disparity and segregation (N. pag.).
In conclusion, use of affirmative action policies in the United States should be upheld. If Affirmative Action policies are not used anymore, racially underrepresented people will experience problems in accessing job opportunities, higher education and public services. Affirmative action has improved chances of racially underrepresented access to institutions of higher learning. Affirmative action has also ensured that racially disadvantaged individuals access equal employment opportunities. Affirmative action has ensured that racially disadvantaged people have an equal opportunity of accessing social amenities. Critics of affirmative action are short-sighted; they need to wake up and see benefits that have come the way of racially disadvantaged people courtesy of affirmative action. Critics of Affirmative action should take cognizance of historical injustice meted against African Americans; this will make the critics realize that African Americans deserve preferential treatment given that for centuries, they were oppressed and denied basic human rights. Suffice is to say that affirmative action is crucial in enhancing racial and social equality and at no time should it be abolished. I am confident that in no foreseeable future will Affirmative action policies be abolished.
Bollinger, Lee C. “A Long, Slow Drift from Racial Justice.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 25 June 2013. Web. 8th March, 2017.
Cornish, Audie. “University Of Texas At Austin President Reacts To Affirmative Action Ruling.” NPR. NPR,23 June 2016. Web. 8th March, 2017.
Jackson, Jesse. “It’s Time to End All Discrimination.” Daily News (6 March 1995):23. LexisNexis. Web. 8th March, 2017.
Nittle, Nadra Kareem. “Are the College Students Who Need Affirmative Action Getting It?” ThoughtCo. About, Inc. 8 May 2016. Web. 8th March, 2017.
Sanchez, Claudio. “A Victory For Affirmative Action, And For Many Colleges A Sigh Of Relief.” NPR. NPR. 23 June 2016. Web. 8th March, 2017.
Sacks, David and Peter Thiel. “The Case Against Affirmative Action.” Stanford Magazine. Stanford University, Sept, - Oct. 1996. Web. 8th March, 2017.
Weier, Anita. “Affirmative Action foe says it’s time for a new direction.” The Capital Times. Madison Newspapers,(19 Dec. 2006.)A1. Web. 8th March, 2017.
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