Affirmative action was a policy meant to ensure that all individuals would have equal opportunities in life. It is a policy that began largely as a result of the civil rights movements by African Americans in the 60’s (Dobbin, 2011). It is true that there have been challenges in implementing the policy and it cannot eliminate racism. However, it was the first honest attempt to solve issues of discrimination as well as other underlying problems in the American society.
This policy has been effective as can be evidenced by the numerous examples of thousands of women, people of color, and other minorities who had previously been excluded from opportunities for an education or jobs but can now gain access. Access to such opportunities and other gains have led to very real changes in the lives of such groups of people. Despite these apparent gains, the debate whether it is necessary rages on.
Critics of affirmative action contend that it actually promotes reverse discrimination rather than fight the vice. The US constitution states that all people are equal, but the policy justifies discrimination of non-minorities based on past discrimination of minority groups (Katznelson, 2006). Another claim is that it promotes stereotypes and racism because of the notion that certain groups cannot perform at the same level without preferential treatment. Minority leaders also argue that the policy turns people into victims. Some people who expect special treatment tend to behave like it is their right and this hinders progress as it alienates minorities from the rest of the society.
The most prevalent argument in support of affirmative action is that minorities are disadvantaged because most opportunities are closed to whites. Supporters of the policy cite the fact that minorities are still underrepresented in the white collar jobs and institutions of higher learning as prove of this. A further argument is that laws passed as a result of the civil right movements did not address important issues of inequality but only hid them(Kellough, 2008). Pro-affirmative action crusaders also argue that diversity has many benefits for society as a whole. It is my opinion that the policy should continue until there is equal representation in all spheres of the society for only then, would the scars of past historical injustices and inequality have been dealt with.
Dobbin, F. (2011). Inventing equal opportunity (1st ed.). Princeton: Princeton Univ Press.
Katznelson, I. (2006). When affirmative action was white (1st ed.). New York: W.W. Norton.
Kellough, J. (2008). Understanding affirmative action (1st ed.). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.