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Affirmative Action Essay, Research Paper

Affirmative Action

The topic of affirmative action is a very sensitive and volatile subject. ?Affirmative action is a time bomb primed to detonate in the middle of the American political marketplace?, wrote Steven Roberts. (page 1 art.47) The increasingly hostile and divisive debate about the role of gender and race is becoming serious part of modern America. It appears that the issue of affirmative action can no longer be over looked. The author, Roberts, puts worth a reason for the growing assault on affirmative action. ?The assault on affirmative action is gathering strength from a slow-growth economy, stagnant middle-class incomes and cooperate downsizing, all of which make the question of who gets hired ? or fired ? more volatile.?(page 1 art. 47) Of course with the growing assault comes the increasing defense. Women?s groups, civil rights organizations and other defenders of affirmative action must setup a defense. The most common argument put forth for affirmative action is that women and minorities still need preferential treatment, due to the fact that racism and discrimination still exist.

The other negative aspect that the issue of affirmative action creates is a conflict between two cherished American principles. The two principles are the belief that all Americans deserve equal opportunities and the idea that hard work and merit, not race or religion or gender or birthright, should determine who prospers and who does not. The author points out that back in 1965 Lyndon Johnson defended affirmative because he believed that minorities were at a disadvantage due generations of bias treatment. The fact is that thirty years ago that made sense to many Americans, but today times and opinions have changed.

Another draw back for the proponents of affirmative action was that some minority and women?s leaders spoke against it. They argued that affirmative action had a destructive affect on their communities. One example put forth was that affirmative action caused co-workers to view minorities suspiciously. ?White skepticism leads to African ?American defensiveness? says Sharon Brooks Hodge, a black writer and broadcaster.(page 1 art 47) Others against affirmative action go further to say that affirmative action only leads to re-segregation. William Bennett, a former GOP strategist says, ? toxic race relations, aggravated by affirmative action, have led to a damaging form of re-segregation. Affirmative action has not brought us what we want ? a colorblind society. It has brought us an extremely color-conscious society. In our universities we have separate dorms, separate social centers. What is next ? water fountains??(page 2 art 47). In response to statements like this supporters of affirmative action point out that we tried colorblind 30 years ago and found that further steps were needed.

According to the author of this article, Roberts, the fight over affirmative action is being played out in four arenas. The first arena is California. The proposition to ban the use of any form of preferential treatment in California universities. The initiative created by Tom Wood and Glynn Custred, attacks what they call widespread reverse discrimination. The second arena is in the courts. The Supreme Court who has generally supported race and gender preferences, has began to limit the doctrine. The author points out that this could be because the increased conservatives on the bench. There have been more and more rulings against the use of preferential treatment. The third arena is within Congress. Republican victories have setup a power struggle between the Republicans and the Democrat that is president. The fourth and final arena is the campaign trail. With affirmative action becoming a major issue, the whole political scene will be affected. Almost all candidates will have to decide were they stand on affirmative action.

In a different article another author puts forth his opinion on how affirmative action is affecting our nation. Nathan Glazer states that affirmative action today is a contest between principle and reality. Glazer states, ? The principle is that ability, qualifications, and merit, independent of race, national origin, or sex should prevail when one applies for a job or promotion, or for entry into selective institutions for higher education, or when one bids for contracts. The reality is that strict adherence to this principle would result in few African Americans getting jobs, admissions, and contracts.?(page 1 art 50) Glazer places a lot of emphasis on role of affirmative action in the admission of students to selective institutions of higher education. The first argument of affirmative action that he goes after is the criticism of the SAT. Glazer argues the test is continually remade. The teat makers do take into consideration who is taken the test, but they still must make a test the challenge the individuals that take it. The test may not answer whether or not a student may succeed in a particular college, but does identify if an individual has the basic skills need to survive in the workplace. Glazer admits that a test can not tell everything about an individual, but does not agree that there should be no form of testing involved in admissions. Glazer writes, ? So what if black students are reduced to two percent of our selective and elite student bodies? Those who gain entry will know that they are properly qualified for entry, that they have been selected without discrimination, and their classmates will know it too. The result will actually be improved race relations and a continuance of the improvements we have seen in black performance in recent decades. Fifteen years from now, perhaps three or four percent of students in the top schools will be black. Until the, blacks can go to less competitive institutions of higher education, perhaps gaining greater advantage from their education in so doing.?(page 3 art. 50) Glazer argues that it is ok to allow for minority students to drop behind, because maybe some day they may be able to catch up. I hope I am not the only person that believes this is an uneducated statement.

I can not in anyway agree with the statements of Glazer. Unlike Roberts, Glazer feels that affirmative action is an issue that only pertains to African Americans or Blacks as he chooses to call them. The fact is that affirmative action affects every individual, regardless of race or gender. If anything affirmative action is an issue between minorities, all minorities, and its opponents. Roberts did a nice job of writing a paper that was two sided and voiced both opinions fairly. In the article he quoted both strong believers in affirmative action and strong opponents to it. While Glazer?s article was, in my opinion a very close minded paper. Glazer barely recognized the other arguments and if he did it was a half a$$ job. Another thing that really turned me off to Glazer article was the fact that he began the paper discussing principles, and by the end he had basically implied that principles are over rated. He goes further to state on the first page of the article that no one could foresee the affects of the civil rights movement. As if the civil rights movement was a negative thing. The movement not only helped minorities, but and individual that was being discriminated against. I can not truly explain how I felt about the article, but I know that with individuals that think like Glazer in the world affirmative action is still needed.

The issue of affirmative action is addressed in our textbook on pages 125 through 129. The text explains how in the years leading up to the 1960?s there were a number of issues raised concerning racism and prejudice. From court cases as far back as Plessy vs. Ferguson to the case of Brown vs. Board of Education the Court called racial classifications despicable to our system and made race a suspect class. In years to follow people began to feel that without help from the government the playing field would never become level. They felt that they had fallen so behind due to discrimination that in the competition for jobs and other benefits they were out matched. In the 1960?s programs were finally formed to help fix the imbalances in the work force and government. These government programs called on governments, government contractors, and some private employers to take affirmative action. In the textbook it states, ? These race-, ethnic-, and sex-conscious remedies to overcome the consequences of past discrimination against blacks, Hispanics, native Americans, and women may be known as affirmative action programs by those who support them, but they are regarded as reverse discrimination by those who oppose them.?(page 126) The first major statement of the Court came in a case relating to university admissions. The case was University of California Regents vs. Bakke. The court ruled that the university?s admission program was unconstitutional. However the Court stated that the particular application of the affirmative action program was unconstitutional, but that affirmative action was not.

The topic of affirmative action is a very touchy subject in our society. Are the causes of affirmative action positive or just a form of reverse discrimination? There are as many answers to that question as there are opinions. The only thing that I can hope and pray for is that one day we will live in a world were discrimination does not determine how we live our lives.

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