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Affirmative Action

.. entions, changing the past effects of discrimination is a goal that is far from reach, however, not unattainable. Women and minorities should be entitled to enjoy the same successes as the rest of the country, without the fear of being seen as the beneficiary of entitlements. Business owners should be free to make intelligent hiring decisions based on a persons skills and talents, without the fear of penalty from the government. As Marsha M. states, “Affirmative action is used not to level the playing field, but used to strong-arm employer’s into jobs, raises and promotions for Black Americans and women.” The growing tensions that result from these programs continues to divide races, not bring them closer together.

“Ultimately, either quotas will go or democracy will, because legal privileges based on status are incompatible with democracy’s requirement of equal standing before the law” (Roberts & Stratton 177). Allowing different sets of rules and lower standards to separate people based on race or sex, defeats any efforts made toward finally ending discrimination. Today every American has access to employment and educational opportunities. Americans live in a world of free enterprise where they can create their own successes. Americans have the means to achieve and succeed, they just have to have the drive and incentive to go out into the world and do it.

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As in every aspect of life some things may not come easily. Yet these experiences make one stronger and sometimes even more determined to achieve their goals. Individuals of any race should not use or misuse the color of their skin or sexual orientation for advancing themselves over others. Instead by using their talents, knowledge and sense of fairness to achieve their goals, affirmative action will become outdated. Works Cited Page Affirmative Action: Part 1 Enforcing Equality, ” An Affirmative Action Primer”, The Virginia Pilot. 1995.

Pilot Online. 12, September 1998. Heilman, Madeline. Study: “Affirmative Action Hires Abilities Doubted” @. Money Magazine, Aug.

31, 1992, 3B. Kahlenberg, Richard D. The Remedy. New York; BasicBooks, 1996. M., Marsha. “Untitled”.

Tidewater Community College. November, 1998. Roberts, Paul Craig., and Lawrence M. Stratton. The New Color Line. Washington, DC; Regnery Publishing, 1995.

Rough Draft Affirmative action refers to the U.S. program set forth in the early 1970’s to correct the effects of past discrimination by giving preferential treatment to women and ethnic minorities in the workplace. At the time of their induction, proponents of affirmative action programs felt that the only way to increase the number of minorities in the workplace was to establish a system of quotas to be maintained by law. However, by forming and maintaining these laws over the past twenty-five years, a development of an entirely new set of problems arose. These problems are what fuel the controversy over affirmative action.

Most people are dissatisfied with current affirmative action policies, but are opposed to eliminating them completely: “Americans hold doggedly to notions of family and liberty, but they also believe in a sort of rough equality of opportunity that gives the underdog a real chance in life” (Kahlenberg 209). Once a necessary evil, affirmative action programs have outlived their usefulness, and promote discrimination by continuing to allow for unfair hiring practices. The primary goal of affirmative action programs was to increase the number of minorities in the workplace. Most people would agree that that goal has been realized. There was a definite need for action to enlighten individuals and corporations to the negative results of their prejudices. It is unlikely that corporations would have taken the initiative to hire from the minority groups, had it not been for government intervention.

Affirmative action has created numerous opportunities for women and minorities in this country. It would be difficult to argue that these programs were not absolutely essential in making progress toward equality that we have made today. The American Association for Affirmative Action states that they are “dedicated to the advancement of affirmative action, equal opportunity and the elimination of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnic background or any other criterion that deprives people of opportunities to live and work (AAAA Sept. 1998).” However, affirmative action has always been a compromise, and with the progress made, a price has also been paid. Affirmative action must now be rethought and restructured.

Laws created the preference programs: “were based in the conscience of the American people and in their commitment to equal treatment. The racial quotas that we experience today are blatant perversions that are illegal under the statutory language of the Civil Rights Act” (Roberts & Stratton 67). If the goal is true equal opportunity employment, removal of all advantages and allowing people to be hired for their skills and abilities only should occur. By continuing to allow for unfair hiring practices, affirmative action programs promote discrimination. Using reverse discrimination to solve the problem of discrimination will always receive criticism for its hypocrisy.

By requiring corporations to fulfill quotas, the affirmative action laws promote the hiring of less qualified workers. For example, in 1965, the Newport News Shipbuilding Co. buckled under the heavy hand of the EEOC, who had solicited complaints by knocking on the doors in black neighborhoods. The company reluctantly agreed to promote 2,890 of its five thousand black workers, designating 100 blacks as supervisors, and agreed to a quota system. One shipyard worker stated that the EEOC had done its best to “set black against white, labor against management, and disconcert everybody.” (Roberts & Stratton 93).

This creates animosities between workers that lead to further segregation, defeating the intentions of the programs entirely. Another example of this “reverse discrimination” was in the education system; the public case of Cheryl J. Hopwood, Douglas W. Carvell, Kenneth R. Elliott, and David A. Rogers. They filed discrimination charges again the State of Texas stating they were discriminated against and denied admission to the University of Texas School of Law.

The college granted admission to less qualified African American and Mexican American applicants through the use of a quota system. This practice of preferential admissions for minorities furthers the practice of reverse discrimination, now not just in the workplace, but also in the school systems. Affirmative action has never been a perfect solution and people will always have valid arguments for maintaining its existence. But, to continue to offer one group opportunity, due only to their minority status, at the expense of another is wrong. Non-minorities continue to feel that their rights have been violated and that they are being punished for crimes that they had no part in committing. And when non-minorities are subject to the same discrimination, they have little recourse: “Under the 1991 Civil Rights Act, white males can have no grounds for discrimination lawsuits until they are statistically underrepresented in management and line positions. The 1991 Act, in effect, repealed the 1964 act by legalizing racial preferences as the core of civil rights law” (Roberts & Stratton).

Regardless of good intentions, changing the past effects of discrimination is an unattainable goal. Women and minorities should be entitled to enjoy the same successes as the rest of the country, without the fear of being seen as the beneficiary of entitlements. Business owners should be free to make intelligent hiring decisions based on a persons skills and talents, without the fear of penalty from the government. As Marsha M. states, “Affirmative action is used not to level the playing field, but used to strong-arm employer’s into jobs, raises and promotions for Black Americans and women”.

The growing tensions that result from these programs continues to divide races, not bring them closer together. Allowing different sets of rules and lower Standards to separate people based on race or sex, defeats any efforts made toward finally ending discrimination. “Ultimately, either quotas will go or democracy will, because legal privileges based on status are incompatible with democracy’s requirement of equal standing before the law” (Roberts & Stratton 177). Today every American has access to employment and educational opportunities. Americans live in a world of free enterprise where they can create their own successes. Americans have the means to achieve and succeed, they just have to have the drive and incentive to go out into the world and do it. As in every aspect of life some things may not come easily.

Yet these experiences make one stronger and sometimes even more determined to achieve their goals. Individuals of any race should not use or misuse the color of their skin or sexual orientation for advancing themselves over others. Instead by using their talents, knowledge and sense of fairness to achieve their goals, affirmative action will become outdated. Bibliography Page Affirmative Action: Part 1 Enforcing Equality, ” An Affirmative Action Primer”, The Virginia Pilot. 1995. Pilot Online. 12, September 1998.

Heilman, Madeline. Study: Affirmative Action Hires Abilities Doubted @. Money Magazine, Aug. 31, 1992, 3B. Kahlenberg, Richard D. The Remedy.

New York; BasicBooks, 1996. M., Marsha. “Untitled”. Tidewater Community College. November, 1998. Roberts, Paul Craig., and Lawrence M.

Stratton. The New Color Line. Washington, DC; Regnery Publishing, 1995.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action This paper was written to show how Affirmative Action took place. It deals with the idea that diversity management does not decrease ethnic and gender tensions while increasing profits, productivity and creativity, but it has served a general purpose to aware people of different cultures, and establish a justification to make everybody equal in opportunity not based in race, sex, nor culture. It also includes a history of the Affirmative Action. The different paths it has taken along the development it has undergone as time has gone by, from its beginning as a Civil Rights Act to the Affirmative Action it is today. Statement of Purpose The three members of the group are members of minorities and the purpose is to acquaint other minorities with what could be encountered in finding a job. Scope This paper contains arguments that stand for and against Affirmative Action programs with cases to substantiate the claims.

It also contains a history of the Affirmative Action and its original purpose. Sources and Methods The material needed for this paper was gathered from several on-line resources and a book. Such sources were gathered by searching the Internet and the School’s Library. Report Organization The paper starts by giving the reader the original purpose of the affirmative Action and its history. Then, it states several pros and several cons supporting each with a case.

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At the end of the paper a summary of the same is given together with the conclusions formed by the writers of the paper. WHAT IS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION? Affirmative Action is the name given to programs that try to correct past and ongoing discriminations against women, racial minorities, and others in the work force and in education. The principal goal of Affirmative Action is to create more diversity and equal opportunities in jobs or schools that used to be all or mostly male, white, or both. Affirmative Action programs have been in place only a little over thirty years throughout Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There are three aspects of Affirmative Action. One, Affirmative Action in employment. It can consist of posting and publicizing job notices in locations that are likely to be seen by a wide rang e of people so that not only white people, but also minorities can see that there are job opportunities that they can apply to (Casul, 1). Two, Affirmative Action in contracting.

This consists of highly regulated government agencies that help minorities to get jobs without haven to go through discrimination because of their background (Casul, 1). Three, Affirmative Action in education. This consists of various programs that schools have to be able to provide minorities with the equal opportunity of an education (Casul, 1). THE HISTORY OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION Affirmative Action was started in 1965 with the Executive order of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

He stated that something else had to be done to move beyond the non-discrimination laws that were already enacted. At the same time something had to be done to enable women and minorities to move up in their jobs. After President Johnson, President Nixon implemented that same Executive order. With this done President Ford, a few years later the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974. This acts assured that federal contractors had Affirmative Action regulations in hiring or firing employees. Again, some years later President Carter created a centralized office to handle all Affirmative Action cases named the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

Now, during his presidency, President Clinton has articulated four standards for all Affirmative Action programs: no quotas in theory or practice, no illegal discrimination of any kind, no preferences for people not qualified, and as soon as the program has succeeded it must be retired. THE CASE FOR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION Since the day that thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 African-American civilians were able to attend school with everybody else; since the day that there was no difference between a “white water fountain” and a “black water fountain”, the achievements reached with the help of an Affirmative Action are evident. Affirmative Action has caused a debate and some tension to rise in the American society (Lewis, 1). The paragraphs that follow will be intended to show to the reader that an Affirmative Action can indeed help the business environment in getting the most qualified people the job they deserve, without their race, culture or sex prevent them from getting it. Arguments For Affirmative Action Since the day that Affirmative Action programs started to take place, minorities have been able to be treated fairly and have been able to get job opportunities also.

The next few paragraphs state several arguments that point to the conclusion that an Affirmative Action is needed to provide fairness in every aspect to minorities. The programs are needed because there are still cases in which minorities and women earn less money than white people and men regardless of the place they studied and got their degrees from. They still earn less money regardless of the qualifications and past experience they might have, to prove this look at any community. How many members of a minority are in leadership positions? How many members of a minority are elected into office? Affirmative Action programs are created to provide minorities with the opportunity to be chosen in better jobs. Affirmative Action programs are needed as a tool that the Federal government has to provide minorities with the opportunity to be treated equally (LCCP, 4). These programs are needed because some institutions in society are not ready to hire minorities just because they are minorities unless they are forced to do so by law. As long as this is so Affirmative Action programs should be preserved and improved (Rothstein, 1). THE CASE AGAINST AFFIRMATIVE ACTION As time has gone by, and as discrimination has been legally reduced to the point that it is easier tolerate with the help of several Affirmative Action programs, the idea that such programs are not needed anymore is rising. Together with the question of Affirmative Action being needed or not debate has been rising too.

Just as there are arguments that protect Affirmative Action, there are arguments that reject it. The following paragraphs will show the reader that an Affirmative Action is not needed anymore because of the way society is handling s …

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action
Affirmative action was orginally designed to help minorities, but women-especially white
women-have made the greatest gains as a result of these programs(Gross, 1996). Affirmative action is a
growing argument among our society. It is multifaceted and very often defined vaguely. Many people
define affirmative action as the ability to strive for equality and inclusiveness. Others might see it
as a quote-based system for different minority groups. I agree and support affirmative actions in that
individuals should be treated equally. I feel affirmative action as an assurance that the best
qualified person will receive the job.

Is affirmative action fair? In 1974, a woman named Rose was truned down for a supervisory job in
favor of a male. She was told that she was the most qualified person, but the position was going to be
filled by a man, because he had a family to support. Five years before that, when Rose was about to fill
an entry-level position in banking, a personnel officer outlined the womans pay scale, which was $25 to
$50 month less than what men were being payed for the same position. Rose was furious because she felt
this was descriminating to her. She confronted the personnel officer and he saw nothing wrong with it.

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Thanks to affirmative action today things like these situations are becoming more rare and/or corrected
more quickly. Affirmative action has definately helped women and minorities in their careers, but it has
yet to succed in the goal of equality to the fullest for the business world to woment and minorities.

Some observers argue that women have made huge strides!
with the help of affirmative action. They now hold 40 percent of all corporate middle-management jobs,
and the number of women-owned businesses has grown by 57 percent since 1982(Blackwood, 1995).

Affirmative action was desinged to give qualified minorities a chance to compete on equal
footing with Whites (Chappell, 1995). Equal opportunities for the blacks, for the most part, has
remained more wishful-thinking than fact. Black students are continuing to struggle to seek an
education, black business owners are still competing against their White counterparts, and black workers
are experienceing an unemployment rate twice that of Whites and hold dead-end, labor-intensive,
low-paying jobs. Few can argue that racism is still rampant in awarding craontcts, jobs, and
educational opportunities, eventhough its been proven benefical to have people of different races with
different ideas and different experiences working toward the same goal (Chappell, 1995).

The employment outlook for minorities is grim, but not hopeless. We definaltely need affirmative
action to overcome the disparities of employment that exist int his country. A recent Urban Benchmarks
study found that of 71 metro areas surveyed nationwide, Pittsburgh had the highest rate of
employment-related problems among non-Hispanic whites between the ages of 25 and 54 and the sixth highest
rate among African Americans in the same age group. We have a lot of problems with basic education here
and if you dont have basic education, you have no chance of getting a good job because competition is
increasing for everyone. We must make sure that we educate our potential work force, including
minorities, or our competitive edge, if we have one, will continue to decline in golbal markets. Many
jobs today are in the technician and technologist area. Jobs require more than a high-school
diploma,but less than a four-year degree–such as an associate degree or certificate fro!
m a vocational or trade school (Kovatch, 1996). As more and more women faced discrimination in large
firms, more decided to strike out on their own.
In conclusion, most Americans know that the deck is stacked against poor kids. They also realize
that, because of past discrimination, an extraordinary number of those facing unequal opportunities are
black. So, while 75 percent of Americans oppose racial preferences, according to a 1995 Washington
Post/ABC poll, two-thirds with to change affirmative actionprograms rather than do away with them
entirely. But the public also realized that, in real life, the legacy of discrimination is not always
so neat. It is diffuse, and it requires a broader remedy.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action works. There are thousands of examples of situations where people of color, white women, and working class women and men of all races who were previously excluded from jobs or educational opportunities, or were denied opportunities once admitted, have gained access through affirmative action. When these policies received executive branch and judicial support, vast numbers of people of color, white women and men have gained access they would not otherwise have had. These gains have led to very real changes. Affirmative action programs have not eliminated racism, nor have they always been implemented without problems. However, there would be no struggle to roll back the gains achieved if affirmative action policies were ineffective.


The implementation of affirmative action was America’s first honest attempt at solving a problem, it had previously chosen to ignore. In a variety of areas, from the quality of health care to the rate of employment, blacks still remain far behind whites. Their representation in the more prestigious professions is still almost insignificant. Comparable imbalances exist for other racial and ethnic minorities as well as for women. Yet, to truly understand the importance of affirmative action, one must look at America’s past discrimination to see why, at this point in history, we must become more “color conscious”.

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History Of Discrimination In America: Events Leading To Affirmative Action.

The Declaration of Independence asserts that “all men are created equal.” Yet America is scarred by a long history of legally imposed inequality. Snatched from their native land, transported thousands of miles-in a nightmare of disease and death-and sold into slavery, blacks in America were reduced to the legal status of farm animals. A Supreme Court opinion, Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), made this official by classifying slaves as a species of “private property.”
Even after slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, American blacks, other minorities, and women continued to be deprived of some of the most elementary right of citizenship. During the Reconstruction, after the end of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868, making blacks citizens and promised them the “equal protection of the laws.” In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, which gave blacks the right to vote. Congress also passed a number of civil rights laws barring discrimination against blacks in hotels, theaters, and other places. However, the South reacted by passing the “Black Codes, ” which severely limited the rights of the newly freed slaves, preventing them in most states from testifying in courts against whites, limiting their opportunities to find work, and generally assigning them to the status of second or third class citizen. White vigilante groups like the Klu Klux Klan began to appear, by murdering and terrorizing blacks who tried to exercise their new rights. “Legal” ways were also found for circumventing the new laws; these included “grandfather clauses”, poll taxes, white only primary elections, and constant social discrimination against and intimidation of blacks, who were excluded form education and from any job except the most menial.
In 1883, the Supreme Court declared a key civil rights statute, one that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, unconstitutional. And in 1896, Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U.S. 537 1896), the Court declared that the state of Louisiana had the right to segregate their races in every public facility. Thus began the heyday of “Jim Crow” legislation. In Justice John Marshall Harlan’s lone dissent, he realized it was a mockery. He wrote, ” We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our peoples above all other peoples. But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts a brand of servitude and degregation upon a large class of our fellow citizens, our equals before the law. This thin disguise of ‘equal’ accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead anyone, or atone for the wrong this day done.”
Not until sixty years later, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (347 U.S. 483 1954), was Plessy overturned. Chief Justice earl Warren declared the unanimous opinion of the court by saying: “We cannot turn the clock back to 1868, when the Amendment was adopted, or even to 1896, when Plessy v. Ferguson was written.” In today’s world, “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
This decision sparked racial tensions all across America. in 1957, President Eisenhower had to call federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas, after the state’s governor forcibly barred black children from entering white schools. In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested and fined, for not moving to the back of a public bus, setting a pattern of boycotts by black of bus companies. And a number of “sit in” were being held by blacks in still segregated restaurants in the South. Responding to those and other incidents, Congress passed a variety of new laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, particularly titles VI and VII, seem to prohibit any form of racial discrimination.


Affirmative action existed in obscurity for years before current-day affirmative action was executed after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246. As conceived, current day affirmative action was to promote greater equality of opportunity by expanding access and increasing inclusiveness. President Johnson, in his 4 June 1964 commencement speech at Howard University, addressed the motivation behind Executive Order 11246, which he signed into law a few months after this speech. He said, “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all the others’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.” Adding, he said that the U.S. must have “not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.” (Pinkerton, James P. “Ending Quotas Should Help End Racism” in Los Angeles Times, 4 June 1995, p. M5)
In 1969, the Department of Labor exposed widespread racial discrimination of the Construction Department so President Richard M. Nixon decided to incorporate a system of “goals and timetables” to evaluate federal construction companies according to affirmative action. This idea of “goals and timetables” provided guidelines for companies to follow and comply with affirmative action regulations.
During the presidency of Gerald R. Ford, he extended affirmative action to people with disabilities and Vietnam veterans but there were no goals or timetables for these two groups. This type of affirmative action required recruitment efforts, accessibility, accommodation and reviews of physical and mental job qualifications.
President Jimmy Carter consolidated all federal agencies that were required by law to follow the affirmative action play into the Department of Labor. Before Carter did this, each agency handled affirmative action in its own individual way, some were not as consistent as other agencies were. He created the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program (OFCCP) in 1978 to ensure compliance with the affirmative action policies.


The first Supreme Court case to directly deal with affirmative action was Regents of California v. Bakke (438 U.S. 265 1978). Alan Bakke, a white male, was turned down for admission, even though his test scores and grades were higher that those of some candidates admitted through a “special” program. Bakke argued that he was a victim of reverse discrimination because he was white. Four members of the Supreme Court took the view that admission to a state medical school must be on a completely “color blind” basis; another four contended that “a racial criteria may be used by a state for the purpose of overcoming the chronic minority underrepresentation in the medical profession.” The remaining justice, Lewis Powel, had the controlling opinion in the case. Powell agreed in part with both sides. He believed that a “legitimate justification might exist for using race as a criterion in medical school admission,” yet he opposed “explicit” racial classifications.


Another landmark case about affirmative action was United Steelworkers of America v. Weber (433 U.S. 193 1979). Unlike Bakke, Weber deals with a private company who voluntarily creates a affirmative action policy. Brian Weber, a white worker, was passed over for admission to a training program in favor for a black worker less seniority. He bought suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court ruled against Weber on two grounds: 1) the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was aimed at relieving the plight of blacks, not whites 2) the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “did not intend wholly to prohibit private and voluntary affirmative action efforts.”
Affirmative action began to go downhill when Ronald Reagan and later George Bush came into office. Affirmative action lost some gains it had made and was more or less ignored by the Republicans in the White House and in Congress. Affirmative action was silently being “killed” by our federal administrators. But among this destruction there was one positive aspect, the passage of Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.


Finally to the Presidency of Bill Clinton. The Republicans are attempting to scare people into changing their party lines by misusing affirmative action. They are saying that affirmative action is nothing more than a quota or reverse discrimination. President Clinton supports affirmative action, but he clearly states: “I’m against quotas. I’m against reverse discrimination. I’m against giving anybody unqualified anything they’re not qualified for. But I am for making a conscious effort to bring the American people together.” (Speech on September 4, 1995, quoted by Michael K. Frisby, Wall Street Journal, September 6, 1995, p. A4). Further, President Clinton added: The purpose of affirmative action is to give our nation a way to finally address the systemic exclusion of individuals of talent, on the basis of their gender or race, from opportunities to develop, perform, achieve and contribute. Affirmative action is an effort to develop a systematic approach to open the doors of education, employment, and business development opportunities to qualified individuals who happen to be members of groups that have experienced long-standing and persistent discrimination. (New York Times, “Excerpts From Clinton Talk on Affirmative Action” July 20, 1995, p. A9).


Affirmative Action Today.

Affirmative action has had its greatest amount of success in city, state, and government jobs. Since the 1960s the area of law enforcement witnessed the greatest increase in minority applicants, and in jobs offered to minorities. This should be viewed as an extremely positive thing, because prior to affirmative action these jobs were almost completely closed off to minorities and woman. The influx has been greatest in the area of government, state and city, because this type of work is easier for affirmative action to watch over and regulate. Affirmative action has experienced considerably less success in integration in big business. This is do to the fact that big business has been more resistant to affirmative action and harder to regulate. I believe that increasing minority and female applicant flow would be very easy for a company to do. They simply need to include minority colleges and universities in campus recruitment programs, place employment opportunities in minority oriented print and broadcast media, and retain applications of unhired minority applicants to be reviewed as a position opens. This would be a great opportunity for applicants and employers.


Affirmative action is also needed to help black women to compete in today’s corporate world. Black women in corporate America are still scarce: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s report for 1984, among the classification “executive, administrative, managerial, and professional, specialty,” there were only 1,474,000 black women 5.9% of the total, as opposed to 22,250,000 white women, 91% of the total number of working women in this category (Cyrus, Virginia. Experiencing Race, Class, and Gender in the United States. Second Edition. 1997. p. 122).


Another area affirmative action addresses is preferential hiring programs. Many times people of color have been excluded from hiring pools, overtly discriminated against, unfairly eliminated because of inappropriate qualification standards, or have been rendered unqualified because of discrimination in education and housing. Court decisions on affirmative action have rendered illegal those qualifications that are not relevant to one’s ability to do the job. They have also mandated hiring goals so that those employed begin to reflect the racial mix of the general population from which workers are drawn. There is no legal requirement to ever hire an unqualified person. There is a mandate that in choosing between qualified candidates, the hiring preference should be for a person of color when past discrimination has resulted in white people receiving preferential treatment.


Sometimes people and companies argue that affirmative action means the best qualified person will not be hired. However, it has been demonstrated many times in hiring and academic recruitment that test and educational qualifications are not necessarily the best predictors of future success. This does not mean unqualified people should be hired. It means basically qualified people who may not have the highest test scores or grades, but who are ready to do the job may be hired. Employers have traditionally hired people not only on test scores, but on personal appearance, family and personal connections, school ties and on race and gender preferences, demonstrating that talent or desirability can be defined in many ways. These practices have all contributed to a segregated work force where whites hold the best jobs, and people of color work in the least desirable and most poorly paid positions. Affirmative action policies serve as a corrective to such patterns of discrimination. They keep score on progress toward proportional representation and place the burden of proof on organizations to show why it is not possible to achieve it.


Opponents of affirmative action want to see the “most qualified” people be hired, regardless of sex, race, age, etc. However, a person’s experience should be taken into consideration during the hiring process and if certain groups are blocked from competeing, when they are finally allowed to compete they may have every other qualification, but will lack what they were blocked at competeing in the first place (Cyrus, p. 265).


While companies continue to permit discrimination in the hiring process they are overlooking a very staggering reality. According to a Workforce 2000 study by the Hudson Institute for the U.S. Department of Labor., it is estimated that 85% of the 26 million net new American workers in this decade will consist of women, minorities, and immigrants. The companies that refuse to share power with those discriminated against may be shooting themselves in the foot, compared to the companies who choose and promote a more diversified workforce {Cyrus, p. 463).


Another argument raised against affirmative action is that individual white people, often white males, have to pay for past discrimination and may not get the jobs they deserve. It is true that specific white people may not get specific job opportunities because of affirmative action policies and may suffer as a result. This lack of opportunity is unfortunate; the structural factors which produce a lack of decent jobs needs to be addressed. It must not be forgotten that millions of specific people of color have also lost specific job opportunities as a result of racial discrimination. To be concerned only with the white applicants who don’t get the job, and not with the people of color who don’t, I believe, is also showing racial preference.


But how true is it that white male candidates are being discriminated against or are losing out because of affirmative action programs? If one looks at the composition of various professions such as law, medicine, architecture, academics and journalism, or at corporate management, or at higher-level government positions or if one looks overall at the average income levels of white men one immediately notices that people of color are still significantly underrepresented and underpaid in every category. People of color don’t make up the proportions of these jobs even remotely equal to their percentage of the population. They don’t earn wages comparable to white men. White men are tremendously overrepresented in almost any category of work that is highly rewarded except for professional athletics.


According to a 1995 government report, white males make up only 29 percent of the workforce, but they hold 95 percent of senior management positions (Sklar, Holly. Chaos or Community?:Seeking Solutions, Not Scapegoats for Bad Economics.Boston. South End Press. 1995. p. 115). Until there is both equal opportunity and fair distribution of education, training and advancement to all Americans, affirmative action for people of color will be necessary to counter the hundreds of years of affirmative action that has been directed at white males. It cannot reasonably be argued that white males are discriminated against as a group if they are overrepresented in most high status categories.


Affirmative action is not a cure all. It will not eliminate racial discrimination, nor will it eliminate competition for scarce resources. Affirmative action programs can only ensure that everyone has a fair chance at what is available. I believe, the larger question should be to ask is why are there not enough decent paying, challenging and safe jobs for everyone? Why are there not enough seats in the universities for everyone who wants an education? Expanding opportunity for people of color means expanding not only their access to existing jobs, education and housing , but also removing the obstacles that cause them from obtaining their goals. I believe, affirmative action is the best shot they have in order to achieve their dreams.

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