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Affirmative Action In The 90

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Affirmative Action In The 90’s Essay, Research Paper

The Failures of Affirmative Action

Once upon a time, there were two people who went to an interview

for only one job position at the same company. The first person

attended a prestigious and highly academic university, had years of work

experience in the field and, in the mind of the employer, had the

potential to make a positive impact on the company?s performance.

The second person was just starting out in the field and seemed to lack

the ambition that was visible in his opponent. ?Who was chosen for the

job?? you ask. Well, if the story took place before 1964, the answer

would be obvious. However, with the somewhat recent adoption of the

social policy known as affirmative action, the answer becomes unclear.

After the United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in

1964,it became apparent that certain business traditions, such as

seniority status and aptitude tests, prevented total equality in

employment. Then President, Lyndon B. Johnson, decided something needed

to be done to remedy these flaws. On September 24, 1965, he issued

Executive Order #11246 at Howard University that required federal

contractors ?to take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are

employed . . . without regard to their race, creed, color, or national

origin (Civil Rights).? When Lyndon Banes Johnson signed that order, he

enacted one of the most discriminating pieces of legislature since the

Jim Crow Laws were passed.

Affirmative action was created in an effort to help minorities

leap the discriminative barriers that were ever so present when the bill

was first enacted, in 1965. At this time, the country was in the wake of

nationwide civil-rights demonstrations, and racial tension was at its

peak. Most of the corporate executive and managerial positions were

occupied by white males, who controlled the hiring and firing of

employees. The U.S. government, in 1965, believed that these employers

were discriminating against minorities and believed that there was no

better time than the present to bring about change.

When the Civil Rights Law passed, minorities, especially

African-Americans, believed that they should receive retribution for the

years of discrimination they endured. The government responded by

passing laws to aide them in attaining better employment as reprieve for

the previous two hundred years of suffering their race endured at the

hands of the white man. To many, this made sense. Supporters of

affirmative action asked, ?why not let the government help them get

better jobs?? After all, the white man was responsible for their

suffering. While this may all be true, there is another question to

be asked. Are we truly responsible for the years of persecution that

the African Americans were submitted to?

The answer to the question is yes and no. It is true that the

white man is partly responsible for the suppression of the African-

American race. However, the individual white male is not. It is just

as unfair and suppressive to hold many white males responsible for past

persecution now as it was to discriminate against many African-Americans

in the generations before. Why should an honest, hard-working, open

minded, white male be suppressed, today, for past injustice?

Affirmative action accepts and condones the idea of an eye for an eye

and a tooth for a tooth. Do two wrongs make a right? I think mother

taught us better than that.

Affirmative action supporters make one large assumption when

defending the policy. They assume that minority groups want help.

This, however, may not always be the case. My experience with

minorities has led me to believe that they fought to attain equality,

not special treatment. To them, the acceptance of special treatment is

an admittance of inferiority. They ask, ?Why can?t I become successful

on my own? Why do I need laws to help me get a job?? These African

Americans want to be treated as equals, not as incompetents.

In a statement released in 1981 by the United States Commission

on Civil Rights, Jack P. Hartog, who directed the project, said:

Only if discrimination were nothing more than the misguided acts

of a few prejudiced individuals would affirmative action plans be

?reverse discrimination.? Only if today?s society were operating fairly

toward minorities and women would measures that take race, sex, and

national origin into account be ?preferential treatment.? Only if

discrimination were securely placed in a well-distant past would

affirmative action be an unneeded and drastic remedy.

What the commission failed to realize was that there are thousands

of white males who are not discriminating yet are being punished because

of those who do. The Northern Natural Gas Company of Omaha, Nebraska,

was forced by the government to release sixty-five white male workers to

make room for minority employees in 1977 (Nebraska Advisory Committee

40). Five major Omaha corporations reported that the number of white

managers fell 25% in 1969 due to restrictions put on them when

affirmative action was adopted (Nebraska Advisory Committee 27). You

ask, ?What did these white males do to bring about their termination??

The only crime that they were guilty of was being white. This hardly

seems fair to punish so many innocent men for the crimes of a relative


But the injustice toward the white male doesn?t end there. After

the white male has been fired, he has to go out and find a new job to

support his family that depended on the company to provide health care

and a retirement plan in return for years of hard work. Now, because of

affirmative action, this white male, and the thousands like him, require

more skills to get the same job that a lesser qualified black man needs.

This is, for all intents and purposes, discrimination, and it is a law

that our government strictly enforces.

Affirmative action is not only unfair for the working man, it is

extremely discriminatory toward the executive, as well. The average

business executive has one goal in mind, and that is to maximize

profits. To reach his goal, this executive would naturally hire the

most competent man or woman for the job, whether they be black or

white or any other race. Why would a business man intentionally cause

his business to lose money by hiring a poorly qualified worker? Most

wouldn?t. With this in mind, it seems unnecessary to employ any policy

that would cause him to do otherwise. But, that is exactly what

affirmative action does. It forces an employer, who needs to meet a

quota established by the government, to hire the minority, no matter who

is more qualified.

Another way that affirmative action deducts from a company?s

profits is by forcing them to create jobs for minorities. This occurs

when a company does not meet its quota with existing employees and has

to find places to put minorities. These jobs are often unnecessary, and

force a company to pay for workers that they do not need.

Now, don?t get the impression that affirmative action is only

present in the work place. It is also very powerful in education. Just

as a white male employee needs more credentials to get a job than his

minority opponent, a white male student needs more or better skills to

get accepted at a prestigious university than a minority student. There

are complete sections on college applications dedicated to race and

ethnic background. Colleges must now have a completely diverse student

body, even if that means some, more qualified students, must be turned


A perfect example of this can be found at the University of

California at Berkeley. A 1995 report released by the university said

that 9.7% of all accepted applicants were African American. Only 0.8%

of these African American students were accepted by academic criteria

alone. 36.8% of the accepted applicants were white. Of these accepted

white students, 47.9% were accepted on academic criteria alone. That

means that approximately sixty times more African Americans students

were accepted due to non-academic influences than white students. It

seems hard to believe that affirmative action wasn?t one these outside


Another interesting fact included in the 1995 report said that the

average grade point average for a rejected white student was 3.66 with

an average SAT score of 1142. The average grade point average for an

accepted African American student was 3.66 with a 1030 average SAT

score. These stunning facts shows just how many competent, if not

gifted students fall between the cracks as a direct result of

affirmative action (Affirmative action).

Well, I believe that the problem has been identified; affirmative

action is becoming a form of reverse discrimination. It is now time for

the doctor to prescribe a potential remedy. Society should work towards

broad based economic policies like public investment, national health

reform, an enlarged income tax credit, child support assurance, and

other policies benefiting families with young children. Widely

supported programs that promote the interests of both lower and middle

class Americans that deliver benefits to minorities and whites on the

basis of their economic status, and not their race or ethnicity, will do

more to reduce minority poverty than the current, narrowly based, poorly

supported policies that single out minority groups. However, if this,

or another remedy is not taken sometime in the near future, and

affirmative action continues to separate minority groups from whites, we

can be sure to see racial tension reach points that our history has

never seen.

Works Cited

?Affirmative Action at the University of California at Berkeley?


October 28, 1996. http://pwa.acusd.edu/~e_cook/ucb-95.html

?Civil Rights? Compton?s Interactive Encyclopedia. (1996). [Computer


SoftKey Multimedia International Corporation.

United States. Commission on Civil Rights. Affirmative Action in the


Dismantling the Process of Discrimination. Washington: 1981.

United States. Nebraska Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on

Civil Rights.

Private Sector Affirmative Action: Omaha. Washington: 1979.

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