Society is differentiated in several categories and everybody cannot have the same opportunities to advance him or herself. Some people are disabled and therefore are unable to compete effectively when it comes to some issues. In some societies, culture has defined women as being weak people whose duty is only to give birth and take care of children. They are therefore given minimal opportunities to economically empower themselves.
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There are also places where people from given racial backgrounds are given an upper hand in economic and societal matters as compared to others. However, it is just fair that every person is treated equally and given equal opportunities in society to develop. Consequently, the government has initiated policies that are meant to ensure equality in society. Affirmative action is among the efforts that have been taken to see to it that each person stands the same chance in the society.
Affirmative action refers to the measures that are taken by the government to ensure that discrimination against people on the grounds of sex, color, religion or nationality is eliminated. It is important to note that these measures are usually applied in employment areas. The measures have been taken so as the help mitigate the effects of historical discrimination that has led to various disadvantages to the affected groups (Tittle 237).
Moreover, the argument has been that every group of people needs to be fairly represented in institutions especially if the institutions are within the society where the groups reside. However, various institutions are bound to be unfair if they are left free to act on their own initiatives. As a result, affirmative action is necessary to ensure that institutions are compelled to include everybody.
Despite the good effects that affirmative action has to the society, it has not gone without opposing arguments. To begin with, there are those people who view affirmative action as being a form of reverse discrimination. In their view, affirmative action leads to discrimination against the majority in favor of the minority.
In the case of Riccci v. DeStefano, a group of white people went to court complaining that affirmative action had been used to discriminate against them. This argument is based on the fact that some criteria for various actions are disregarded so that affirmative action could be applied.
Moreover, there are those people who argue that it would be better if merit and qualifications were the criteria used to give people various positions (Sharma 89). According to this group of people, affirmative action requires use of some features which people have no control over like, gender and race in selection of people. This is being unfair to other people who cannot change their background.
With or without affirmative action, there are other qualifications that must be met. These include academic or job experiences that one must have before being allowed to even attend an interview. In this regard, people have argued that affirmative action does not help people or women from lower classes but only those who happen to come from well to do backgrounds.
Minority and women from lower classes do not even have the opportunity of getting a good education that can allow them to stand a chance of being considered for interviews (Sharma 95). Consequently, some people have argued that affirmative action leads to further class discrepancies.
Another argument against affirmative action is based on the fact that people might be unwilling to work hard knowing that the affirmative action will favor them to get employed. Moreover, affirmative action will only increase racial tension because people favored by affirmative action will be viewed negatively by others.
Furthermore, other people argue that discrimination is illegal in law and each person will try as a much as possible to avoid discrimination on any grounds. With this in mind, affirmative action is useless since everybody is trying to use merit in choosing students or even employees. In addition, affirmative action is seen by opponents as some form of quotas which are not healthy to the society.
On the same note, the problem of discrimination on grounds of gender, race or any other factor is not present in any society nowadays, leave alone in American society. As a result, it is useless to use affirmative action to fight a vice that is no longer existent in society (Fischer 20).
Moreover, provided there is affirmative action in place their will still be some form of stigma to minority groups. As a result, affirmative action only helps to foster prejudices towards some groups of people. Arguably, people need to be evaluated as individuals and not as groups in which they belong. By and large, though affirmative action is linked to minority groups there is scanty evidence that the groups which need affirmative action really benefit from the same.
Not everybody is against affirmative action. There are people who have brought forward quality explanations of why affirmative action is essential to the society. Firstly, the society is made up of different racial groups some of which have been discriminated against for a long time now. Moreover, communities that are considered as minorities are increasing in number (Tittle 240). Whether we like it or not, these people will form our country’s workforce in the future.
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As a result, it would help to equip everybody from now to ensure that the future workforce will be well prepared. On the same note, it is a fact that there are some communities who due to their racial background have been disadvantaged. These communities are unable to compete effectively because they lack the necessary qualifications. One way of assisting these communities is by addressing the historical injustices and finding a way of reversing the same. This is what affirmative action aims at doing.
Moreover, if the community does nothing, most institutions will be dominated by the majority groups. These will lead to further disadvantages to the minorities. Therefore, affirmative action is important to ensure that minorities are empowered by ensuring their representation in schools and work places.
In addition, ensuring a level play ground in itself will not help to give equal opportunities to everybody (Fischer 12). The major groups which have several advantages over the minorities will always have an upper hand. Therefore, affirmative action is very essential in helping people with various disadvantages thus ensuring that everybody has equal opportunities.
Opponents of affirmative action argue that race and gender should not be used as a basis for giving people opportunities. Proponents argue that affirmative action is not used to make employers and schools take unqualified people.
On the contrary, affirmative action is meant to ensure that minorities and women who qualify are given an upper hand in these institutions. Similarly, diversity in opinion which has been found to be very beneficial in any institution stems from diversity in composition of workforce.
It is important to note that diversity leads to ingenuity and competitiveness in the workforce. In this regard, affirmative action is very essential because if helps to foster diversity in selection. It is also evident that there is a huge gap in education, especially higher education, between whites and color communities. This gap can never be eliminated if deliberate measures are not taken to ensure that the minorities have a fair share of opportunities in institutions of higher learning.
Moreover, research at the Michigan University depicted that people needed exposure on how different races view the world in order to integrate with people without problems (Sharma 76). On the same note, people who have experienced diversity are more likely to succeed in life because they are more able to approach various problems from an objective perspective (Fischer 9).
It is, therefore, the argument of proponents that affirmative action is not intended to discriminate against the majority or be unfair to any group. On the contrary, it is meant to ensure that all people are pulled up to the point where they can be able to compete equally with other people.
Affirmative action has found great support from the government in form of policies as well as various decisions from the courts. In the case of Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), the court held that institutions can use race as a factor of admission to achieve race diversity in the composition of their students. This is because adoption of color blind policies will only favor white students due to the fact that they get exposed to education systems early in life.
In the case of Griggs v. Duke Power co., the court decided that the employment requirements were discriminating because promotions were not done fairly on the ground of job performance. The government also helped to enforce the affirmative action in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter issued an executive order which led to the creation of National Women’s Business Enterprise Policy (Tittle 253). This enhanced implementation of affirmative action thus enabling women to prosper in entrepreneurship.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is also among the measures that have been taken by the government to help in the efforts of affirmative action. This Act ensures that people with disabilities are given equal treatment as any other person during employment or promotion process. The review of affirmative action that was ordered by president Clinton in 1998 found that affirmative action is very crucial. However, the review suggested continuous evaluation to ensure that any negative effects are eliminated immediately.
It is important to note that there are also efforts to stop the enforcement of affirmative action. The most recent include the case of Fisher v. University of Texas. In this case the plaintiffs are arguing that they were discriminated against when they failed to get admitted to the university.
They are citing the university’s application of the affirmative action as the cause. The future of affirmative action in learning institutions depends on the ruling of this case. If the court overturns or affirms the ruling of Grutter v. Bollinger is matter that we can only wait to see. It is paramount to note that there have been successful petitions against affirmative action in the past. In the case of Hopwood v. Texas (1996), it was held that the university could not use race as a factor of admission (Sharma 117).
Opponents of affirmative action argue that it is ethically wrong to favor some people in society. The argument is that affirmative action is a way of punishing innocent people from majority communities who were not there when discrimination was taking place. Moreover, it is unethical to just wait until people are grown up to give them favors (Fischer 4).
From the time of birth, minority communities should be given equal chances so that they may stand a good chance of competing effectively with the others. However, it should be noted that there is everything ethically correct in trying to favor people who have been pushed to the back in various societal aspects. If people agree that segregation was ethically wrong and immoral, then affirmative action is ethically right because it addresses the effects of segregation.
The minority and colored people still comprise a very minimal percentage when it comes to various economic sectors. Unemployment rate among black people is double that of white people. There are still huge disparities in terms of education levels between Black-Americans and White-Americans.
The effects of segregation have not yet been fully addressed. Moreover, it has been depicted that without affirmative action these disparities will escalate.
Many people will avoid women workers or the disabled due to reasons well known to them. It is, therefore, important to have affirmative action in place to help in addressing issues that equality policies cannot be effective in tackling. Nevertheless, it would be vital to ensure that affirmative action policies are well formulated to minimize any negative effects that might arise.
Fischer, Katharina. Advantages and Controversy of US “Affirmative Action” Concerning African-Americans. Munchen: GRIN Verlag, 2010. Print.
Sharma, Arvind. Reservation and Affirmative Action: Models of Social Integration in India and the United states. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publishers, 2005. Print.
Tittle, Peg. Ethical Issues in Business: Inquiries, Cases, and Readings. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2000. Print.