Affirmative Action Essay

5023 words - 21 pages

Affirmative Action

Because economic, social, gender and racial inequalities exist within the American population, it is in the best interest of its people and government to take action to amend these problems. Since the U.S has a capitalistic based economy, there is little that the government can do to completely end all inequalities. However, it can try to remedy racial and gender discrimination. The most realistic and supported program is Affirmative Action, which has many key issues: does the government have the right to enforce “reverse discrimination” or is it right to take race or gender into account for purposes of diversity and equality when evaluating college or job ...view middle of the document...

Doll studies by social psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark in 1950 played a large role in the Brown decision because they showed that segregation psychologically harmed the self-image and esteem of black children as they preferred white dolls to black ones (Harplani 1). Importantly though, in a 1991 interview Kenneth Clark claimed that even whites were harmed by segregation- his data presented that whites too were afflicted with an unrealistic view of self and racial paranoia (Harplani 2). In 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925, establishing the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity to end discrimination in employment in the government and its contractors (Cahn). The term “affirmative action” was first used in 1965 in President Lynden B. Johnson’s E.O. 11246, requiring federal contractors to take “affirmative action” to ensure equality of employment (DCLU); this expanded in 1967 to include women (Cahn). Wage-earning women in factory jobs led the first major challenges to sex discrimination in the workplace in the 1960s. When the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) opened in the summer of 1965, about 1/4 of the complaints about inequality came from women and by the early 1970s, “television news, magazines, and newspapers all ran stories on sex discrimination and women’s struggles against it” (MacLean). With the women’s rights issue in the public eye, women of all races borrowed tactics from male, blue-collar African Americans and began to work together to organize women’s caucuses as their vehicle of struggle (MacLean), almost always demanding affirmative action. In spite of these efforts, in the late 1970s, 1/3 of women remained in “traditionally female” clerical jobs (MacLean).

Since the United States has written in the Constitution that everyone is equal, the government must try to uphold this. Also, the public must understand that there are existing race, gender and class inequalities and that action must be taken to end them (Robinson 18). However, the issue of Affirmative Action is divided because people differ in their beliefs on how inequality should be ended or even if it should be. In the most general sense, public opinion shows that a majority of the nation supports “affirmative action.” The Americans for Fair Chance (AFC) public opinion polling results “found that 64% of Americans support overall affirmative action for women and minorities” (Black Issues, 2001). A 1999 poll conducted by Newsweek recorded that 52% of blacks “believe such programs have done ‘a lot’ to help blacks in this country or have helped them ‘some, ’” (Paul) indicating that Affirmative Action support is not poured out entirely from minorities as a surprising 51% of whites shared the same opinion.

What these figures suggest is that the issue might not necessarily be giving advantages to certain minorities, but rather increasing the importance of diversity. It is conceivable that if a race were asked...

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