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“An action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer
from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education;
positive discrimination.” This is known as affirmative action. Affirmative
action has been beneficial to many countries when trying to provide equity and
justice for everyone, but in recent times it has more adverse effects than
advantageous. Most notably in college admissions and in the workforce, it is
now seen as unfair when minorities who received a sound upbringing due to equal
opportunity policies, can also take advantage of affirmative action by gaining
a position they did not earn. Although affirmative action policies have
decreased since when they first started, measures should be taken to erase them
entirely.

The term “affirmative
action” was coined by John F. Kennedy during the African-American civil rights
movement. Through affirmative action, Kennedy’s goal was to establish racial
diversity in the government’s workforce that most closely resembled the
proportions of the various ethnic groups in America. After Kennedy was
assassinated, due to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, organizations outside of the
government started to carry out affirmative action. Title VI of the act stated
that “no person . . . shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin,
be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected
to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial
assistance.” Title VII built on Title VI to include that, in certain
conditions, religion, sex, and national origin can be considered in hiring a
candidate. Title VII was the first to address employment equity or what the
common man refers to today as preferential hiring.

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Lyndon B. Johnson
succeeded Kennedy in office. Johnson was the first person to adopt the term
“affirmative action” into lawmaking. He mandated federal contractors to
practice affirmative action in order to provide employment to all applicants
and to make sure that all employees are treated equally at work without regard
to race, creed, color, or national origin. He also wanted to expand Title VII
to privately-funded companies.

Johnson designed
affirmative action to actualize institutional change within American
organizations so they could better comply with the Civil Rights Act. The basis
of this modification are the following beliefs: most of the jobs in America are
held by white men; the only way to give an equal chance to neglected minorities
is by granting legislative and moral priority; the United States is supposed to
be a melting pot of cultures and a destination for dreamers, and therefore has,
in economic terms, room for all Americans; following the Civil Rights Act, the
government  and the citizens of the
United States undoubtedly decided that public policy was the most effective
mechanism to achieve equality of opportunity; one cannot deny the existence of
racial prejudice in the workplace, and it adversely affects the professional
and academic outlook of minorities; it has come down to forcefully invoking
social and legal procedures to bring about change.

A frequent
misconception about affirmative action is that it sanctions quotas to
disadvantaged category such as race or gender. Although this is true in India,
quotas do not exist in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court attested this
in 1978. In the case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, it was
determined that having racial quotas in college admissions were unlawful
according to the equal protection clause stated in the Fourteenth Amendment, the
only exception being if quotas were used to rectify a history of
discrimination, if the college had one. In this case, Allan Bakke, who was
white and a prospective medical student, disputed that he was denied admission
to the University of California Davis Medical School solely because the program
maintained quotas during application reviews, and therefore a specific number
of spots were reserved for minority students. In its highly unsettling
decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Bakke’s application was indeed rejected
because of the quota and ruled quotas against the law. Confusing the issue further
was a diversity rationale in spite of the majority decision. The diversity
rationale concluded that ethnicity and race can be one of the many admissions
factors for acquiring a heterogeneous student body in higher education. Thus,
even though Bakke overturned direct quotas, the case compelled the government
to pay attention to the issues regarding diversity in education.

Affirmative action
policies mandate that companies must regularly perform an analysis of minority
employment, design objectives to fulfill a demographically representative employee
composition, and generate procedures for the recruitment of minority employees.
Affirmative action is effective in companies in which the practice extends beyond
hiring practices to encompass a commitment to maintaining diversity,
evaluations of the program from time to time, teaching the employees to
productively take action in matters concerning affirmative action, and pursuing
office surroundings and managing principles that uphold equal opportunity in all
terms and conditions of employment. Many of the biggest companies in the United
States today have departments and legal staff s dedicated entirely to ensuring
diversity in the workplace.

Many problems
complicate or hinder the administration of affirmative action. The majority of
these obstacles are stereotypes, habits surrounding common practices in the modern
business world, and employee preferences. These problems are very hard to
scrutinize and most often than not lead to serious issues, such as sexual
relations in the workplace or termination of employment, that make the problem
even more difficult.

In the present day, a
massive dilemma that U.S. companies encounter is how they should deal with
affirmative action with regard to downsizing. How should the management decide
who is expendable? It is too tedious to plan lay-offs and also think about
affirmative action while completing daily business tasks. Just like hiring,
there are many factors to consider when downsizing also. These factors include
rank, seniority, tenure and personal relationships, as well encompassing race
and gender. There is not one prescribed method of dealing with downsizing
because it depends on the employer and the situation. Juggling these factors
while considering the accomplishments of each employee now competing for his or
her can become stressful and complicated.

Since its inception, affirmative
action has been the subject of harsh criticism throughout the years by those
who want to see a change it the policy or its elimination entirely. Critics
assert that affirmative action ironically creates discriminatory hiring
practices, is not practical, unethical when lose their jobs because of it, and
is even biased to towards who gain employment that they may not be ready for. Contrary
to the popular opinion, people who are against affirmative action are not
limited to conservative white men. A large number of minorities, even democrats,
are also opposed to affirmative action either as a concept or the way it is
carried out in America.

Undoubtedly, the most
ubiquitous rationale downgrading affirmative action till date is that it is
nothing other than reverse discrimination. This goes back to what is clearly
stated in Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which was devised to end
differentiation based on race, religion, creed, class, gender, and ethnicity
during the hiring process. Now white men are the victims of discrimination due
to their race and sex. Instead of ending discrimination altogether, it seems as
though the goal of affirmative action is to punish hard-working white men, the
biggest sufferers. Title VII cannot simply be an extension of Title VI without
the victimization of innocent white men.

For the past 50
years, society has been persistent culturally and judicially that civil citizen
should be given civil rights, the prominent catalyst for this sociological
development being the civil rights movement taking place in the 1950s and
1960s, hence producing vast gains in the public sphere for colored people. The
Civil Rights Act of 1964 was one of these gains; it outlawed segregation in
schools, residences, and employment. Before this act was passed, many Americans
agreed that the treatment African American faced was cruel and immoral. With
the creation of Civil Rights Act of 1964, many citizens’ apprehension was that
President Lyndon B. Johnson has established an equal playing ground for African
Americans. To these Americans, the addition of affirmative action went beyond
the mechanism and objective of the Civil Rights Act and was unnecessary and
excessive since discrimination was now outlawed by the federal government,
minorities would now be on equal footing with whites.

Another argument that
affirmative action is unfair is that the white majority who must unwillingly
take the hit and the minority groups who benefit from it are neither
participants nor victims of the historical oppression that caused inequalities
in the past. The current generation of whites should not be paying for the
discriminatory attitudes of their ancestors. Similarly, minorities, specifically
African Americans were never forced into socioeconomic subordination like their
ancestors, so why should they be compensated for someone else’s suffering?
Basically, whites are not at fault discrimination that happened before they
were born, and African Americans today shouldn’t be profiting from hardship
they had never experienced. The best way to fix wrongdoings of humans is to
create awareness and never repeat it, not to do the same exact thing to
innocent contemporaries and call it a solution.

One more logical
argument against affirmative action is that beneficiaries are viewed as victims
and some people try to take advantage of this “victim” status. What was once a
generous policy to help underprivileged people thrive has become to these
people something that the government owes them. This is not at all progress
because they are living on a cloud that alienates them from the rest of
society. Their attitude has become that of laziness and entitlement, which is
the opposite of what affirmative action purports­–having the confidence to work
hard.

Still another aspect
of the argument against affirmative action is that it taints the image of
minorities. When minorities are selected for highly competitive positions,
people automatically assume that they were only hired because of affirmative
action. This is detrimental to minorities because their individual
accomplishments are virtually impossible to recognize because of the
presumptive atmosphere of affirmative action. This type of attitude only leads
to begrudging assumptions that every minority in the workplace is there only
due to her color of his or her skin and could very well have stolen the job of
a more qualified white man. This leads to belittling of minorities in a
professional setting and also causes inefficiency of the work being done.

Considering
all of the valid arguments against affirmative action, it is important to note
that that are made through the lens of the various socioeconomic, political,
and ethnic groups. These opposing views are numerous and versatile with
clashing opinions among the allies themselves.

The
arguments in support of affirmative action are wavering and have changed
drastically over the years. Even then, advocates have rose up to the challenge
of protesters and provided answers to the age-old questions..                                                  

Little
needs to be said about the historical roots of the argument supporting
affirmative action. Throughout American history, white men have consistently
monopolized almost every tier of the social ladder. Affirmative action was conceived
to better serve minorities in finding opportunities in association with an
advancement of civil rights. The scope of arguments in favor of affirmative
action are largely to demystify myths and point out facts that challenge the
ethical standpoint, misconceptions, and stated problems of those against it

The
first and foremost argument that advocates object to is the concept of reverse
discrimination and that the whites are unfairly losing jobs. Advocates never
fail to raise the point that although minorities have achieved overwhelming
success with affirmative action, they are not yet proportionally represented in
the professional world, especially in high-level positions. For instance, there
is a high volume of blacks and Mexicans working in labor but the colored
doctor, lawyer, college professor, and scientist are rarely seen. Supporters
dispute that this does not equate to equal opportunity. A better solution to
this is equal access to early childhood education. The top schools are reserved
for rich neighborhoods, but if everyone had an equal right to attend the school
of their choosing, the foundation for achieving these top jobs will reach
everyone. Affirmative action is not the answer.

In
relation to the previous argument, advocates also argue that the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 did nothing to solve the issues regarding discrimination, in fact
it was thrown into the shadows. From when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was
passed until today African Americans and Latinos are significantly more poor than
their white counterparts. The Act opened up great opportunities within society,
but it did not provide a good framework for financial and economic success and
stability. This argument is illogical because it’s basically saying it’s not
enough to give minorities and edge in competition, but they should also be
given money they didn’t earn. Nothing will ever be enough for people who can’t
appreciate what they already have.

Supporters
also lay out the positive aspects of increased diversity to society as a whole.
Diversity can be expanded to more aspects of American life through employing
and promoting minorities so they can advance economically. Diversity has become
the norm and people are much more accustomed to it. This increases awareness
and misconceptions about other groups are erased. Diversity helps American’s
become knowledgable and open-minded. Discrimination is illegal, and diversity
is not only accepted but it is also encouraged as people start to understand
each other. It helps people broaden their horizons, and see past their
traditional ideas. As wonderful as diversity is, it’s still not a reason to
give an advantage during competition. The United States has naturally adopted
diversity, and no longer needs affirmative action.

Backers
of affirmative action defend that role models have risen from minorities
because of affirmative action Their emersion has led to the enlightenment of
the common man about issues regarding rape, immigration, drugs, and poverty that
minorities face on a daily basis. These atrocities were previously invisible to
society. However, the best role model setting a good example is one who has
earned his recognition through no help from anyone, not someone who became
famous via a given advantage.

People
in support of affirmative action will never stop believing in its necessity. They
consistently declare that minorities are still where they started and
affirmative action has done nothing to help them. They insist that affirmative
action should be increased even more and quotas should be put into place. This
is just preposterous because quotas just enforce the differences between people
instead of Americans unifying as one.

Affirmative
action was once a generous policy to erase the devastating consequences of
discrimination, but it is now being taken advantage of by people having these
benefits. Since reservations have been made for them, they assume they don’t
have to work as hard to be rewarded the same position as their white
counterpart. For this same reason, affirmative action undermines meritocracy
and reinforces stereotypes. It lowers the accountability of authorities when
the best person for the job comes out defeated by his less competent peer.
Advocates will continue to argue that affirmative action is essential to
improve the lives of minorities. Unfortunately, this debate will not see an end
anytime soon.