Affirmative action describes policies in which historically underprivileged minorities are given preference during hiring or university admission. In the United States, most people associate affirmative action with the preferential hiring or admitting of African Americans; however, federal affirmative action laws are also in place for women, veterans and people with disabilities. Further, state and local governments have also enacted different affirmative action laws. However, while some argue that affirmative action is still necessary, others think it is not and, in fact, worsens racial tensions.
Argument Against: Affirmative Action Increases Racism
Some of those who think affirmative action is no longer necessary argue that affirmative action actually encourages racism in education, government and the private sector. They argue that affirmative action still encourages people to look at sex, color or race as a factor during the employment or admissions process when the goal, they argue, should be to eliminate it. Further, some argue that affirmative action causes “reverse racism,” or encourages employers and college admissions representatives to discriminate against individuals from majority groups.
Argument Against: Racism/Sexism is No Longer Prevalent
Some who believe affirmative action is no longer necessary argue that racism/sexism in America is not as prevalent or pervasive as it once was. They cite the fact that minorities serve and have served in management positions, as CEOs and as high-ranking government officials, even president. Still others argue that affirmative action in a society without pervasive racial/sexist issues is offensive to minorities or people historically discriminated against, suggesting that they need affirmative action to succeed and cannot do it on their own.
Argument For: Affirmative Action Brings Equality
Those who think affirmative action is still necessary argue that discrimination in the past has a profound impact on the future, and that generations of poverty and inequality leave minorities at a disadvantage even when society’s attitudes change. They argue that diversity is good for educational institutions and workplaces, but suggest that decades of discrimination result in less diversity at school and work, which in turn reinforces poverty and inequality among minorities.
Argument For: Minorities Are Still Discriminated Agasint
Although racism, sexism and other kinds of discrimination are not as accepted in today’s society as they were years ago, those who think affirmative action is still necessary argue that they still exist. Some, like American Association for Affirmative Action director Shirley J. Wilcher, use the number of discrimination cases brought before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as proof of this. Others argue that minorities are still, on the whole or in specific situations, paid less and less likely to advance in their educations and careers than members of the majority.