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When President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925, which states, The contractor will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of their race, creed, color, or national origin ; this act established a Presidential Committee for Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO). Relatively two-year later, President Kennedy, delivered his civil rights speech making comments that included the Second Reconstruction, a coherent effort by all three branches of the government to secure blacks their full rights . This speech was the basis for the Civil Rights Bill of 1963 and the basic shape of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Graham 27 – 29; 74 99) This act is the basis of which is now modern affirmative action.
A study conducted by the Herman P. Miller indicates that the black income is 55 percent that of the white income, that no significant progress has been made since the 1940 and 1950 era where that black committee was concerned. This study was conducted after Corps of Engineers in New Orleans issued because of Johnson committee that state if a Negro is denied a position and is in the top three candidates it must be approved by the Corps. This sparked a large debate in the House in which Senators believed that this was a form of Reverse Discrimination . However these types of Quotas were happening long before the Congressional Hearings of 1963. (Graham 100 107)
During the Second World War the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was established to protest racism in the north. CORE grew throughout the country and militant. CORE members started boycotting retail chain and picketing banks with the intention of nondiscriminatory hiring. But this was over 30 years ago. Do we still need of boycott single products, has they did in Philadelphia, and focus companies into hiring a specify number of minorities? (Graham 104 05)
Supporters of affirmative action believe what Former Supreme Court justice Harry Blackmun said in 1978, In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account the race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently. (Guernsey 15) Where as opponents of affirmative action believe that any form of discrimination is unconstitutional. (20)
So do Americans owe the black community of the slavery years or have we made the playing field level? Dr. Martin L. King said in his August 28, 1963 I have a Dream speak that America has given the Negro people a bad check believing that the difference between pre-civil war days and the day of the speech was virtually unchanged. Where the problem starts is with the people that today still believe that we have not advanced since then. (Reinking 565)
Here in 1999, is that check still bad. According to Ward Connerly the answer would be No . Mr. Connerly; described as a male, approximately 45 years old and black, as been called everything from a traitor to a champion. Mr. Connerly has gone as fair as going on the Chris Rock Show and stating that he wants black Americans to be self-reliant. He as gone on to say that being a Color-Blind society is not realistic, however our government has to be. (Austin American Statement 1-4)
In 1996, when Proposition 209 was passed, this was designed to make a level playing field for every American in the state of California. Before this the state had set aside 15 percent of the states contacts for minority, women, and disabled veteran owed business. By setting aside any percentage of contacts is a form of discrimination. Discrimination by definitions is; Treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit. (American Heritage Dictionary) Under this definition California citizens overwhelmingly passed the proposition with 55 percent of the votes.
IN 1998, Initiative 200 passed in the state of Washington. This Initiative made it unconstitutional in the state of Washington to discriminate against any American. (Smith) Making this the second state in the union abolishing affirmative action. And only one state that had a voter discussion on affirmative action did not pass. That was Proposition A in Texas which would have abolished affirmative action programs that give minority and women owed companies preferential treatment. (MASON 18-19)
In colleges today, the racial tension is still strong. When the young mind is so easily influenced by others, it is understandable why there is this tension. Then when students to prestigious universities based on their race or there sex, this could elevate the population that was regretted. When the Supreme Court rendered a 5-4 ruling in the 1978 Bakke case this was to exterminate so called racial diversity in the college and that the admission process is based solely on merit. (Guernsey 38)
With the government so involved in the race issue it is amazing that the largest employer of government employees does not have an affirmative action policy. The United States (US) armed forces, at least back in 1988 when I resigned, had no policy which granted distinguished treatment to anyone. They did have discriminator rules that if broken could result in removal, but every promotion, Letter of Accomplishment, and any thing else was based on merit not race.
After Bill Clinton was elected to the position of President in 1992, he named his cabinet members. The members included three women, four black Americans and two Hispanics stating that he wanted his administration to look like America as a whole. Opponents believe that Mr. Clinton did more damage then help after making his appointments. If President Clinton based his appointments solely on merit and results were the same then he might not have made the comment that he did. But because of the comment, it became apparent that he was out to appoint minorities weather or not they were the most qualified. (Guernsey 43)
Some opponents believe that giving a person a job based on their race or gender, which it looked like President Clinton did, is the same as placing them on welfare. What the President did was give these individuals a hand out, saying Yes you are qualified for the job, but not necessarily the most qualified. And defeating the hard work that many minorities have done.
While supporters still hold up signs saying 30 years of affirmative action does not erase 500 years of oppression . (Guernsey 48 photo) The problem with this argument is that it the same as saying, Your grandmother hit my grandmother and you owe me something because of that! Which implies that for every bad thing that someone does their kin generations from now well have to make emends.
So what do we, as Americans, need to do to eliminate Affirmative Action and Racial Discrimination? The answer is very simply, education. The problem starts when miss information is given complete truth. By given proper and complete information in our educational systems Americans well be able to enjoy the fruits that only this country has to offer. America has the largest diversity in the world, if we are able to live like this without special treatment why should we have it in the work place.
There is no question that discrimination still exists. However this act is not limited to the white male. When a company refuses to hire a man because there are not enough women working for the company, this effects all parties. When a company refuses to hire an individual because of the color of his skin, this also effects all parties. Weather it is a black woman or a white male, or for that matter a pock-a-dot individual when we as Americans discriminate, regardless of reason, we make the most beautiful country in the world less attractive.
Guernsey, JoAnn. Affirmative Action. Minneapolis: Lerner, 1997.
Graham, Hugh. The Civil Rights Era. New York: Oxford University, 1990.
Reinking, James, and Andrew Hart and Robert von der Osten. Strategies for Successful Writing. Upper Saddle River: Simon & Schuster, 1999: 564-67.
Excerpted from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from INSO Corporation; further reproduction and distribution in accordance with the Copyright Law of the United States. All rights reserved.
Smith, Scott Rep. Initiative 200 http://www.secstate.wa.gov/inits/text/i200.htm
Mason, Julie. Anti-affirmative Action efforts descried. Houston Chronicle March 9, 1999: 18 – 19
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