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Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action “We didnt land on Plymouth Rock, my brothers and sisters Plymouth Rock landed on us!” Malcolm Xs observation is brought out by the facts of American History. Snatched from their native land, transported thousands of miles in a nightmare of disease and death and sold into slavery, blacks were reduced to the legal status of farm animals. Even after emancipation, blacks were segregated from whites in some states by law, and by social practice almost everywhere. American apartheid continued for another century. In 1954 the Supreme Court declared state-compelled segregation in schools unconstitutional, and it followed up that decision with others that struck down many forms of official segregation.

Still, discrimination survived, and in most southern states blacks were either discouraged or prohibited from exercising their right to vote. Not until the 1960s was compulsory segregation finally and effectively challenged. Between 1964 and 1968 Congress passed the most sweeping civil rights legislation since the end of the Civil War. It banned discrimination in employment, public accommodations (hotels, motels, restaurants, etc.), and housing; it also guaranteed voting rights for blacks in areas suspected of disenfranchising blacks. Today, several agencies in the federal government exercise sweeping powers to enforce these civil rights measures.

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But is that enough? Equality of condition between blacks and whites seems as elusive as ever. The black unemployment rate is double that of whites, and the percentage of black families living in poverty is nearly four times that of whites. Only a small percentage of blacks ever make it into medical school or law schools. Advocates of affirmative action have focused upon these differences to support their argument that it is no longer enough just to stop discrimination. Liberal Democrats feel that the damage done by three centuries of racism now has to be remedied, they argue, and effective remediation requires a policy of “affirmative action.” At the heart of affirmative action is the use of “numerical goals.” Opponents call them “racial quotas.” Whatever the name, what they imply is the setting aside of a certain number of jobs or positions for blacks or other historically oppressed groups. Conservative Republicans charge that affirmative action really amounts to reverse discrimination, that it penalizes innocent people simply because they are white, that it often results in unqualified appointments, and that it ends up harming instead of helping blacks.

The issue of preferences to address historical patterns of racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination has received a great deal of attention nationally. Whether in government contracts, private sector hiring, college admissions, or state hiring practices, opponents in the issue have engaged in often-heated debates. In Michigan, legislation to limit or eliminate affirmative action has been introduced this session. A good example of this legislation was proposed on March 18,1998 and it is called SJR N (S-2). This resolution proposed an amendment to the Michigan Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sex or ethnicity and to prohibit the state and its political subdivisions from using religion, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin as a basis for discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to any individual or group in employment, public education, or public contracting. The present system violates the fundamental principle of equal protection of the law against discrimination on the basis of immutable characteristics of race, sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin.

SJR N (S-2) was intended to end this practice and return Michigan to the goal of a colorblind society. II. SJR N (S-2) is on the Conservative side of things, in that, the legislation is trying to stop “reverse racism”. There really is no moderate way to look at affirmative action; you can either be for it or against it. Sen. Bill Bullard Jr.

was the chair and sponsor of this bill, but when he met with the other members of this committee it was stated in the minutes of the meeting that “..the issue will not be voted on today”, nor does he (Bill Bullard) intend to press for a vote in the Legislature this year. There will be future opportunities for all who wish to contribute to this dialogue to have their views heard. The committee then had a long list of testimony from those who opposed SJR N (S-2). It was then stated that this constitutional amendment if approved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate and House of Representatives, would be submitted to the voters at the next general election. The bill was never brought before senate, it was basically killed in committee.

III. Bill Bullard the Republican State Senator from District 15 stated his views on affirmative action from this statement. Indicate the principles you support (if any) concerning affirmative action. State government agencies should take race and sex into account in the following sectors: a) College and university admissions Senator Bullard opposed all the affirmative action questions because he is a Republican, and if one has a viewpoint against affirmative action it is considered a conservative one. How does presidential candidate George W. Bush feel about affirmative action? He Opposes quotas and racial preferences, supports affirmative “access” to open the doors of opportunity through programs such as the Texas 10 percent plan, where those who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class are automatically admitted to any state college or university, and advocates needs-based contracting and breaking down government contracts to smaller sizes to encourage entrepreneurship in all communities.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action The idea that different subcategories of humans exist, and that depending on one’s point of view, some subcategories are inherently inferior to others, has been around since ancient times. This concept eventually gained the label of “race” in 1789, a “zoological term.. generally defined as a subcategory of a species which inherits certain physical characteristics that distinguish it from other categories of that same species.” (Tivnan 181). Although slavery has been by and large eliminated in virtually every part of the modern world, the concept used to rationalize its implementation, “racism”, still plagues most modern cultures. Races that were once enslaved, or are minorities within their society, are often discriminated against in a variety of ways. This attitude can result in actions as severe as the Holocaust of World War II, or as minor as a dismissive glance from a salesman at an uptown department store. In America, an active war has been waged on discrimination since minorities and women rallied for equal rights in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s.

In the last 35 years, the American government has made strides toward ending discrimination altogether, enacting social policies designed to give the downtrodden minorities a leg-up in a white-dominated society. One such policy, Affirmative Action, generally refers to programs that give preferential treatment to minority groups based on socioeconomic status and which try to correct past injustices inflicted upon said groups. This use of racial criteria to award opportunities in fields like education and employment has sparked major debates over reverse discrimination and moral obligation in today’s America. Many claim that blacks in America have a “moral claim” to compensate them for the “paramount injustice” inflicted upon them, slavery (Tivnan 202). Although slavery ended nearly 200 years ago, racism was tolerated and even encouraged by the American government and was “virtually public policy” for most of the 20th century (Tivnan 202). Proponents of affirmative action believe society owes blacks for these past injustices. In addition to repaying blacks, these policies are “socially useful” to the whole of society, according to Ronald Dworkin in his book “Why Bakke Has No Case”. By helping today’s impoverished blacks, we can attempt to end the vicious cycle of poverty within just a few generations.

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Parents assisted by affirmative action will be better able to raise their children, who will be better educated and therefore receive better jobs without assistance. In some cases, the color of one’s skin can be as important a criteria as their intelligence or experience. “If a black skin will, as a matter of regrettable fact, enable another doctor to do a different medical job better (e.g. minister to an urban ghetto population), then black skin ought to be taken as ‘merit’ as well” (Qtd. In Tivnan 206). The fact that black or white skin enables one to do a job better is not a measure of personal worth, just as people who can play basketball better because of their height are not inherently superior to those who cannot. Although affirmative Action does not solve all the problems, or resolve all the issues, you have to ask yourself: What would society be like without affirmative action? (Tivnan 211) Other’s argue that “you cannot wipe out injustice with another injustice” (Tivnan195). Discriminating against whites is just as wrong as discriminating against blacks.

After all, when a society wants to make things equal, it does not mean reversing the current situation and trampling the rights of different demographic instead. Whites and blacks shouldn’t be on separate lists in the career world, just as they shouldn’t have separate dining accommodations (Tivnan195). Another point raised is that affirmative action has been shown to hurt blacks more than it helps them (Tivnan 198). “Affirmative action implies inferiority” (Tivnan 198), and although it does give some blacks opportunities they would otherwise be without, it still propagates racism and racial tension in the workplace. “Preferential treatment..subjects blacks to a midnight of self-doubt, and so often transforms their advantage into a revolving door.” (Tivnan 198). They would prefer a “level playing field”, and hate that fellow employees think that they got to their position not through hard work, but through a government program, even though that may not be the case (Tivnan 200). Striving to attain “diversity”, the goal of so many organizations, often hides the fact that many blacks aren’t prepared for these opportunities. According to Shelby Steele’s “The Content of Our Character”, only 26% of black college students graduate from college within six years of admission.

Although these figures are interesting, they are totally unrelated to the real victims of affirmative action: millions of poor blacks in inner-city ghettos who will never go to college and are only hoping for a decent job. To these blacks “outside the mainstream of the American occupational system”, these highbrowed issues are “stunningly irrelevant” (Qtd. in Tivnan 199). In spite of affirmative action, more blacks are serving time in prison than a decade ago. It is time for the successful members of the black community to embrace the black underclass by becoming community leaders with ideas and visions for the future of our country.

I believe that affirmative action is a noble and well-intentioned program, and that at one time it may have been the correct policy to uphold, but now “The moment for affirmative action has passed.” (Tivnan 200). Although the past injustices inflicted on blacks are certainly inexcusable, they are not justification for “payback” in a direct sense. Anyone directly involved in slavery is long since deceased, and although the legacy of slavery is alive and well today, we should be helping these impoverished people because we want to better our nation as a whole. By bringing as many people as possible above the poverty line, regardless of the color of their skin, we make America a better place. By increasing the quality of our pathetically under-funded public education system, and especially by easing cultural pressures on young inner-city blacks to drop out of school, we can make each generation better prepared to meet the challenges of today’s workplace until a program such as affirmative action would be seen as insulting by any race.

Bibliography Tivnan, Edward. The Moral Imagination . New York: Touchstone, 1996.

Affirmative Action

The roots of Affirmative Action can be traced back to the passage of
the Civil Rights Act where legislation redefined public and private behavior.
The act states that to discriminate in private is legal, but anything
regarding business or public discrimination is illegal. There are two
instances when opposing affirmative action might seem the wrong thing to do.
The nobility of the cause that help others. Affirmative Action was a great
starter for equality in the work place. The most promanite variable in
deciding Affirmative Action as right or wrong, is whether or not society is
going to treat people as groups or individuals. Affirmative Action is a
question of morals. The simplicity to form two morals that are both correct
but conflicting is the reason for the division of our nation on Affirmative

Affirmative Action is very noble when looking at who benefits from the
outcome. Let us take a closer look at Affirmative Action. The people that
are involved and the damage it takes on our society arouses many doubts.
Taking a closer look also stirs up a question of nobility that needs to be
answered before making a decision on Affirmative Action. Does Affirmative
Action simply change who is discriminated against and makes it legal for the
new discriminators? Coming from my point of view, the view of a white male,
this is a serious question. The job reviews of supervisors and others
involved in hiring should address race and sex. Each review should have a
hiring goal of at least half of our new employees being women and at least
half non-white. Lets put this strategy to work. We have ten positions to
fill, these positions can be filled following the above guidelines by hiring
five black women. It can also be met by hiring five white women and five
non-white men. Obviously to successfully meet this goal would mean to not
hire a white male. People strongly disagree with their white forefathers and
society today which address race and sex when hiring. Using a persons skin
color in hiring is discrimination no matter how society looks at it.
The whole idea behind Affirmative Action is to right the wrongs of the
past. Well, what about the individuals that were not even born when this
atrocity of discrimination was going on? Society should not punish the youth
for the crimes of their white male forefathers. These are the battles that
need to be fought. We must stop employers from hiring in a discriminatory
fashion, not to just favor the group that has been discriminated against in
the past. Not only does it affect white males, but the recipients of
Affirmative Action suffer from negative side effects also. There is an angry
backlash that women and minorities feel from Affirmative Action. There is
also the effect of pampering. It can make any individual lazy and
unmotivated. Affirmative Action does nothing but build walls to separate us
more, and pollute our work atmosphere with tension.
An angry backlash towards the recipients of Affirmative Action appears
prominently in the work place. An example of Affirmative Action backlash is
when an advantage is not an advantage. Affirmative Action weakens the spirit
of the individual by making them think the reason they got the job or grant
was because someone felt sorry for them. Some women believe Affirmative
Action will benefit them in the beginning because there is an incentive to
hire women. This will do more to hinder than to help in the long run.
Affirmative Action helps to get a female an interview but once on the
interview and once on the job, it gives males a basis for their resentment
and skepticism of females. This can cause additional tension between men and
women that was not there before affirmative action.
Another side effect is how pampering can make a person lazy and
unmotivated to excel. This is exactly what affirmative action does. It makes
sure that women and minorities are pampered to make up for lost time. Well,
let’s take a look at what all the pampering in the past has done for the
white male. Look at the college graduation numbers of today. Eighty percent
of blacks attending college graduate, while only 55% of white college
students graduate. These numbers alone show what discrimination did to help
the white male to achieve a lazy attitude of “I don’t need good grades, I am
white I’ll get a good job.” This is a dangerous attitude, because in some
situations a white male needs to be over qualified to compensate for small
“bonus points” some minorities receive. By pampering any single group the
long-term disaster will outweigh the short term relief.
Discrimination is not the problem that plagues society. This is shown
with the increase of women in the work force. About thirty years ago this was
not the case, and affirmative action forced American employers to open their
eyes to the benefits of diversity. Now it is time to end Affirmative Action
and focus on what is holding down minorities today. Let us turn our sites on
poverty, poor family life, poor schooling, for these problems are colorblind,
and can hinder an individuals chances for success more than anything else. To
equal the opportunity of minorities for employment we should educate and
prepare them, not force them into the work force or Universities.
Some Universities here in the United States have based enrollment
on College Board’s and SAT’s or ACT’s, none of which show intelligence
levels. Rather these test’s show the standards of education that the
individual has encountered. These test scores sometimes become a form of
discrimination against minorities. Because they are not fluent in how the
test are held and are supposed to know the same amount. Another form of
evaluating students is where the Universities and government need to focus,
to establish a standard in education that spans across all levels of income.
Affirmative Action is definitely not the answer for equality today. Now it is
time to apply new moral threats, not towards the employers and colleges but
towards the government. For it is the government that needs to change its
The government needs to take action towards the real problems of
equality: poverty, not the bad white man from the past. Affirmative action is
simply the same old discrimination in reverse. It seems that the minorities
are the ones with the advantage when there should be no advantage to anyone.

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