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Affirmative Action 15 Essay, Research Paper

Our nation, the United States of America, is supposedly the land of opportunity where all men are created equal. In this nation of equality, citizens and soon to be naturalized citizens are trying to gain a better life. A better life is comprised of necessities and luxuries alike, and also should contain a life with freedoms and justices. The United States Constitution grants every citizen the freedom of religion, press, so on and so forth.

Yes, equality is the key to our world being a better place. The problem with our society is dejure, by law, every human is equal and should be treated as equals, but our society is defacto, in actuality, still discriminating and segregating minorities and women. Affirmative action appears just and right and calls for minorities and women to be given special consideration in employment, education, and contracting decisions. 1

Affirmative action certainly gives minorities and women an advantage, which does seem unfair and unequal, but this advantage offsets societies discrimination because of race, sex, creed, and/or national origin. For much of this century, women and ethnic minorities have confronted legal and social exclusion. 2 Discrimination and exclusion is common in our everyday circumstances, but affirmative action combats this with inclusion.

Affirmative action does destroy the notion of a color blind society. 3 The statue of a woman holding scales and the US Constitution which is in front of many US courtrooms is blindfolded to symbolize this notion. Justice is intended to be blind to everyone s race, sex, creed, and sexual orientation. This means that these characteristics should not be taken into consideration when hiring for a certain job or being accepted to a college or university. The fact of the mater is that if these characteristics are not being considered, many women and minorities will be greatly under-represented in the work force and in many colleges and universities throughout the nation.

Justice is the striving to ensure the well being of others, as well as ourselves. 4 Affirmative action enables the employer or college admission officer to ensure the well being that our nation s institutions arediversified. They allow those women and minorities who would otherwise not have the chance of being considered for a job or college admission, the chance of being accepted. Every human has definite rights and these rights are those things that we must have if we are to actually be what God created us to be. 5 God created as equals, and affirmative action offers those who were not treated as equals an opportunity. Most injustice [happens]….through the sin of omission. 6 The sin of ommision is neglecting to do something required. If affirmative action is ended or forgotten, a great injustice would be allowed. Affirmative action truly is required to reduce racial tension, forcing people to interact together and work as a unit in a proffesional and intellectual level across racial lines. 7

Imagine our nation ruled solely by male whites. This was the reality our nation before the civil rights movements of the 1950 s and 1960 s. For much of this century, racial and ethnic minorities and women have confronted legal and social exclusion. African Americans and Hispanic Americans were segregated into low wage jobs, usually agriculture. Asian Americans, who were forbidden by law from owning land, worked fields to which they could not hold title. Women were barred by law in many statesfrom entering entire occupations. 8 Women and minorities were severly segregated. This segregation was certainly not just or right. Society should have honored the their rights because they are essential for dignity and integrity. 9 The citizens of the US had and still do have the obligation to respect other s rights. Individuals have a relationship with society, and they are social justice and distributive justice. Social justice is about obligatons that individuals and subgroups within society have toward their community or the society as a whole. Distributive justice deals with the obligaitons that the society has toward all

its members and the role of government, corporations, communities, and individuals in the just distribution of society s resources. 10 These obligations were first stated in the US Constitution with the phrase all men are created equal.

The first progress toward social and distibutive justice was in the strengthening of employment opportunites for African Americans and women. This came during the labor shortage of World War II. The link between affirmative action and civil rights was first made by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. On March 2 Kennedy signed Executive Order (E.O.) 10925, which established the President s Commision on Equal Employment Opportunity. This E.O. indicated the obligations of contractors doing business with the government.11 In this E.O. the phrase affirmative action was first used. This E.O. instructed federal contractors to take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are treated equally without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 12 The Civil Rights Act of 1964 established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC) and prohibited employment discrimination by large employers whether or not they have government contracts. Institutions with affirmative action policies set goals and timetables in order to diversify their respected institution. Recruitment, set-asides, and preferences are methods used to achieve those goals.

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