Affirmative Action: An Ongoing Debate on Discrimination and Equality
According to Coretta Scott King, “To abandon affirmative action is to say there is nothing more to be done about discrimination.” Affirmative action is an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women. It was put into place to benefit groups that are thought to have suffered from discrimination.
The Historical Roots of Affirmative Action: From Kennedy to Today
In fact, it was first proposed in 1961. Affirmative action is one of the most controversial topics when it comes to the question of quotas. President Kennedy signed an executive order that required those who have contracted with the US Government to take steps to make sure the employees would be treated without discrimination due to race, creed, color, or national origin. According to NCSL (National Conference of State Legislators), Affirmative action was created to assist minority groups against discrimination, but it does more harm than what it can do to help. Affirmative action was created with the intention of leveling the playing field so that everyone can have an equal opportunity to be hired or accepted into a school.
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In the United States, affirmative action was first created by Executive Order 10925, signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. It required that government employers’ not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin.” It also required that government employees’ take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” states HG.org Legal Resources.
The Dual Perspectives: Equal Opportunity vs. Reverse Discrimination
“The difficulty of overcoming the effects of past discrimination is as nothing compared with the difficulty of eradicating from our society the source of those effects, which is the tendency — fatal to a Nation such as ours — to classify and judge men and women on the basis of their country of origin or the color of their skin. A solution to the first problem that aggravates the second is no solution at all.” — Justice Scalia’s judgment in the case City of Richmond V. J. A. Croson Co.: January 23, 1989.
Affirmative action is a way to ensure that diversity is obtained and maintained in schools and in the workplace. In so doing, it also helps create tolerant communities because it exposes people to a variety of cultures and ideas that are different from their own. It helps disadvantaged people who come from areas of the country where there are not very many opportunities to advance where they otherwise could not. In other words, it gives everyone an equal playing field.
The True Essence of Diversity: Beyond Skin Color and Ethnicity
“Affirmative action was never meant to be permanent, and now is truly the time to move on to some other approach.” — Susan Estrich. According to “The Case Against Affirmative Action” by Louise P. Pojman, affirmative action is reverse discrimination. The past discrimination against certain minority groups does not justify present discrimination against non-minorities. All people are equal under the laws of the United States of America and should be treated accordingly. It destroys the idea of a meritocracy and instead puts race as the dominant factor in admissions and hiring procedures. The best people for the position should be put there, regardless of race. Simply having people of different races or ethnicities in the workplace/university does not necessarily mean diversity of opinion. People with the same skin color are not necessarily the same in opinion or even culture.
- King, Coretta Scott. Speeches and Public Statements. Coretta Scott King Archive.
- U.S. Department of Labor. (1961). Executive Order 10925.
- National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL). The Effects of Affirmative Action: An Analysis.
- HG.org Legal Resources. A History of Affirmative Action in the U.S.