Discrimination and Affirmative Action

“Affirmative action” is a term familiar to most American but one not always understood. Overtime, it has signified a variety of strategies designed to enhance employment, education, or business opportunities for groups, such as racial or ethnic minorities and women, who have suffered discrimination. However, the manner in which these efforts are implemented, the types of action they require, and the broader implications they carry for our society may vary from one specific program to another. The purpose of this essay is to examine the concept of discrimination and affirmative action.

As is widely known, affirmative action has been one of the most controversial and divisive issues ever placed on the national agenda in the United States. People disagree on whether affirmative action should be permitted or, if it is judged to be necessary, on the specific types of efforts that should be included. The argument has continued in one form or another since the policy began over four decades ago. The persistent nature of the debate over affirmative action is indicative of the policy’s significant implications. Alternative interpretations of such fundamental values as justice and equality lie at the heart of the dispute (Muhl, 1999). Employment, education, and business prospects are at stake, not only for groups targeted to benefit from the policy, but also for others who wish to compete for a share of those opportunities.

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The importance of the issues raised by affirmative action requires us to examine the policy with care. To understand it, readers must know how the policy originated and evolved, must recognize what affirmative action requires in various instances and what it does not require, must strive to understand arguments on both sides of the debate, and must be alert to separate fact from fiction. The middle and later years of the 1990s proved to be a particularly difficult time for those who supported affirmative action (Marquita, 1995). Forces arrayed in opposition pressed their concerns with increasing vigor and success. In November 1996, for example, voters in California approved Proposition 209, the widely known state constitutional amendment banning affirmative action policies that involved preferences for minorities and women in state employment, contracting, and university admissions.

As the 1990s came to a close, some observers concluded that affirmative action had run its course and that it would not survive long into the new century.Support for affirmative action had certainly eroded. A growing number of economically and socially conservative leaders in public office had voiced their opposition to the policy, and proposals to limit the use of affirmative action were raised in Congress and in numerous state legislative assemblies. Politically motivated law firms also emerged were well received (Affirmative Action, 2007). The federal judiciary, shaped to a considerable extent by appointments made by the Reagan and Bush administrations in the 1980s and early 1990s, ruled against affirmative action in a number of important cases. In 1996, the U.

S. Court of Appeals for the fifth Circuit ruled that the circumstances that would permit preferential forms of affirmative action by a state university were exceedingly narrow.The circuit court struck down an affirmative action program that gave a limited preference to minority applicants at the University Of Texas School Of Law. Later, the U.S.

Supreme Court refused to take the case under review, thus allowing the circuit court decision to stand without officially endorsing the ruling. Efforts by the courts to tighten legal restrictions, and other steps taken to oppose affirmative action in the 1990s and thereafter, were consistent with the view that because progress by racial and ethnic minorities, disabled veterans and women was made in previous decades, affirmative action was no longer necessary (Keith, 2003). Nevertheless, others argued that discrimination and its effects had not been eradicated: that women and minorities were still underrepresented in higher – level positions in most organizations; and that affirmative action programs designed to assist these groups were, and are, still needed. It is impossible to know with certainty what the future will hold for affirmative action. To develop a better understanding of the policy and the dispute associated with it, however, three basic, but often neglected, facts should be considered:In conclusion, discrimination and affirmative action is, therefore, inherently inefficient.

They cost money. If your sole motive is to make money, then, you will not discriminate. Yet, letters to the editor, political speeches, and any number of laws passed by legislatures are designed to get people, and in the latter case to force people, not to discriminate.