The initiative for an affirmative action was to ensure equality in educational, contracting, and employment opportunities across all races and gender. Therefore, it was a means through which minority groups and women would gain equal chances to compete in the aforementioned opportunities.
As a result of this, the affirmative action has played a key role in ridding America of discrimination against minority groups. However, its converse effect, “reverse discrimination” against the white has led to the development of alternative forms to address racial discrimination and ensure that all individuals are treated fairly.
The affirmative action used in Executive Order 10295 (1961) for the first time in the United States and was a wakeup call for federal contractors to treat all job seekers equally notwithstanding colour, sex, race, national origin, or religion (Dhami, Squires, & Modood, 2006, p. 5).
There has been increasing debate on the use of affirmative action on university admissions and hiring with a focus on race. Therefore, this paper is bent on showing the effectiveness of affirmative action towards achieving equality on the basis of race in school admissions to enhance educational diversity, and in the hiring process to promote racial equality and improve the overall standards of living.
University Admissions: Achieve Educational Diversity
The use of affirmative action during admission of students in universities was a step towards achieving educational diversity as stated by Justice Lewis Powell. The Supreme Court has had a role to play in as far as affirmative action is concerned. This is because it is largely involved in endorsement of critical laws governing the affirmative action.
In the 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s gave an official remark in light of affirmative action. She declared that Justice Powell’s view of a diverse student body was endorsed as a justified reason for the use of race during admissions in universities. On the contrary, she also noted that “there had been no clearer road for diversity-inspired Affirmative Action programs to travel on in 2003 than there was in 1978.” (United States History, 2012, Para 11)
Diversity has been used as a plank for supporting the affirmative action in school admissions. Basing on various studies on how diversity is beneficial to students, there is a need to ensure racial equality prevails during schools admission. Dark colored individuals like the African-Americans are deemed a minority group hence the reason why prior to the affirmative action of 1964, most of them were locked out of the university.
In such a situation, these individuals were deprived of the chance to become better in terms of literacy and socio-economic status since admission into some universities such as the University of California in Los Angeles was associated with quicker access into employment (United States History, 2012, Para 1-3).
As an activist group bent on ensuring that all individuals are exposed to equal life opportunities, Manhattan Institute seconds what a majority of Americans believe. The highly held believe is that most of the minority groups would have the chance of overcoming their drawbacks if only the society would give them the chance. One way by which these individuals get this chance is through admissions into Universities in a manner that is similar to that of White people, who are considered to be the majority group.
According to the renowned Bakke’s case, affirmative action gave each individual an equal chance of being admitted into their universities of choice thus, acting in accordance with the equal protection clause. It is through affirmative action that discrimination in society is remedied.
In 1994, by using affirmative action, the Supreme Court put a halt to the habitual norm by the University of Maryland Banneker to award scholarships solely to African-American students (United States History, 2012, Para 8-10). In addition, affirmative action was the reason for disintegration within the University of Texas’ admissions program.
Diversity is associated with different ethnic backgrounds and as such, individuals have the chance to learn from one another. To some extent, diversity precludes harshness resulting from racial preference (Glazer, 2003, p. 3-5). Rather, it promotes broad-mindedness, openness, and acceptance so that overall integrity can be achieved in the long run.
Despite the fact that affirmative action has faced a lot of criticism to the extent that it is almost facing out, one cannot overlook the fact that it is through affirmative action that alternative forms of advocating for racial equality have prevailed.
One example is that which was proposed in Florida by Jeb Bush, where top performers from every high school in the state regardless of race would get admission into the state universities. The same was the case in Texas, where the top 10% in every high school would be admitted to selective state universities (Glazer, 2003, p. 12).
Promote Racial Equality
There are four different approaches used while executing affirmative action in the hiring process. To begin with, affirmative action is used to bar race discrimination in Federal and war industries. This was introduced by President Franklyn Roosevelt in 1941, and has long served as a means to eliminate racial discrimination in hiring processes.
Secondly, affirmative action is deemed an essential parameter in governing government agencies in as far as equal opportunity for employment is concerned. Thirdly, federal courts ensure that affirmative action reigns under the equal employment opportunity act 1972 that resulted from the amendment to title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Dhami, Squires, & Modood, 2006, p. 56 & 63). Lastly, affirmative action is propelled by voluntary action but under the initiative of state statures.
Affirmative action is seen as a means of tapping talent as indicated in the Gratz and Grutter cases (Dhami, Squires, & Modood, 2006, p. 63). These cases have integrated the synergetic relationship between education and employment. The Grutter case has placed emphasis on the University of Michigan Law School that has executed a narrowly tailored affirmative action, which gained approval of the Supreme Court because it met the compelling state objectives of ensuring that educational diversity is realized.
On the other hand, the Gratz case focuses on the faculty of literature, Science, and Arts in the same university failed the test of providing narrowly tailored racial means to ensure and maintain diversity. Rather, it used racial quotas that were deemed not to satisfy the requirement of diversity (Dhami, Squires, & Modood, 2006, p. 76).
In addition, integration of all people regardless of race and ethnicity results in attitude change and promotes unity and harmony. When these virtues prevail in a work place, the working relations among individuals are improved and the success of the firm is enhanced.
Improve Standards of Living
The use of affirmative action in the hiring process gives disadvantaged individuals a chance to better their standards of living. Richard D. Kahlenberg’s statement, “Affirmative action based on race was typically an inexpensive and a fast fix that bypassed the extensive effort of trying to develop the talents of low-income minority students”, reinforces this (Katel, 2008, p. 845).
By banning the use of quotas for the implementation of the Civil Rights Act was a way of ensuring that every individual, whether black or white, proved his or her worthiness for the course that he or she was pursuing. Nonetheless, it was considered an essential dimension in the coalition against discrimination and racism owing to the fact that numerical targets and goals were required (Glazer, 2003, p. 14). The use of quotas however was the reason for reverse discrimination against the whites.
Affirmative action in employment has greatly fostered racial equality and has resulted in more than 30% decline in racial wage gap (World Development Report, 2005, p. 18). Regardless of the fact that Blacks remain under-represented in higher-paying jobs, diversity in the work place has escalated. It has been discovered that the provision of equal employment opportunities to both majority and minority groups resulted in an increase in the relative marginal productivities of the minority groups.
It is apparent that support for affirmative action has dwindled in the recent past. Affirmative action has been of great input value in ensuring that minority groups are offered the same opportunities as the majority groups in university admissions as well as in employment. However, despite increased diversity in the work place, there is need to reinforce affirmative action with the aim of overcoming income disparities.
We should not let affirmative action die because so far, we have all witnessed the effects it has had on society and especially with reference to the minority groups and women. Had it not being for affirmative action, we would not have Obama as the current president of the United States.
Whether white, black, Hispanic or whatever race, each individual is capable of bringing about change in the world, and he or she should not be restricted on the basis of colour. Nonetheless, quotas are like sympathy votes where the minority groups are accorded a certain entrée percentage in universities or firms, but unfortunately this does not give credit to their capabilities. Affirmative action is very effective but it should not be governed by race, but by credibility.
Dhami, R., Squires, J., & Modood, T. (2006). Developing positive action policies: learning from the experiences of Europe and North America. Leeds: Corporate Document Services.
Glazer, N. (2003). Affirmative Action. Web.
Katel, P. (2008). Affirmative Action. CQ Researcher, 18 (36), 841-864.
United States History. (2012). Affirmative Action. Retrieved from https://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1970.html
World Development Report. (2005). Equity & Development. Retrieved from http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTRANETSOCIALDEVELOPMENT/Resources/Affirmative_Action_India_Ashwini.pdf