Affirmative Action: Misunderstood Policy

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AFFIRMATIVE ACTION Affirmative action is a controversial and often misunderstood policy. It is a program whose origin the late 1960s was based upon the historic societal disadvantages shared by blacks and other minorities and the need to rectify disparities between those groups and whites. Over time it has come to embrace women, in most of the ways that it has benefited other minorities. When it was first introduced it attracted little opposition. The country was just emerging from Jim Crow period, an era of racial segregation and state-supported discrimination against African Americans. During this period, many blacks lived in poverty, a result of centuries of slavery and racist mistreatment, in a country where the whites had benefited…show more content…
They argue that such a system fails to recruit the best and most qualified applicants, and as a result the institutions which hire them are ultimately saddled with unqualified individuals, unprepared for the tasks with which they are presented. Another argument against affirmative action, particularly as it has benefited blacks, is that if other races can advance socially and economically without artificial assistance, African Americans should be able to do the same. The problem with this argument is that the comparison ignores the unique history of discrimination against Black people in America. Historian, Roger Wilkins in The case for affirmative action. The Nation argues that, Blacks have a 375-year history on this continent: 245 involving slavery, 100 involving legalized discrimination, and only 30 involving anything else (Wilkins,…show more content…
Today many critics contend that affirmative action has outlived its usefulness. The argument is that affirmative action was a temporary policy meant to redress those who felt the sting of Jim Crow Laws. They perceive America as a less racist society, pointing to recent successes of Senator Barrack Obama, an African America who is the first black to be elected president of the United States of America. They further point to the appointments of Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell as U.S. Secretaries of State. In spite of these laudable appointments, advocates of affirmative action argue that as long as racism is present in institutions of higher education, government and the professional world, race-conscious policies will be needed to ensure minorities a fair chance at success. G. Ezorsky in his book Racism and justice: The case for affirmative action, argues that the most effective way to cure society of exclusionary practices is to make special efforts at inclusion, which is exactly what affirmative action does. It has been argued that the only way to create a color-blind society is to adopt color-blind policies. Ezorsky argues however, that although this statement sounds intuitively plausible, the reality is that color-blind policies often put racial minorities at a disadvantage. For instance, all
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