Affirmative Action Research Paper

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Affirmative Action
University of Phoenix
Susan E. Ricard

Since the beginning of affirmative action, there has been controversy about the program being an effective tool to eliminate discrimination in education and the workplace. Even though the numbers with affirmative action plans seemed to have improved the percentage of minorities in schools and workplaces, it does not work to mandate that people change. Once the mandates disappear the numbers begin to decrease. In its conception in 1964 with the implementation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, affirmative action was meant to be a way of allowing an equal opportunity for, at this time, blacks to be given the same chances as white men. The argument was that since the beginning of America, blacks had not been treated fairly, even inhumane at times, being used as property. They were not allowed to educate themselves or think for themselves. Because of the injustices done to them, there was a need for restitution for the wrongs that white men had done. (Williams 2009). Affirmative action was supposed to be the law to make white men see blacks as equal. The law was also expected to “level the playing field” even if it meant patronizing blacks because they didn’t have the same advantages to excel without being patronized. Those in favor of affirmative action want the minority population to excel and have the same chances that white men have. Unfortunately, the belief that creating laws to change people’s predispositions is only possible if everyone agrees and abides with those laws. When people have preconceived ideas of others based on upbringing and years of believing stereotypes quick resolves are not usually a possibility. These mandates are meant to make people change the way they have been taught to think since birth. Proponents of affirmative action believe that there have been and still are today too many minorities that do not have an equal chance in employment and education. There have been huge strides in education and employment as it pertains to increasing the percentages of minorities that now have jobs and/or are in colleges. According to ACLU Affirmative Action Report, less than 5% of college students were black in 1955, one year after The Civil Rights Act Was passed. (2000). Over 11% of college students were black by 1990, a closer representative of the percentage of blacks to whites in the U.S. population. Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor in 1994 illustrates that from 1982-1995 percentages of female, black, and Hispanic laborers increased from 40.5% to 48%, 5.5% to 7.5%, and 5.2% to 7.6% respectively. Affirmative action groups would argue that it is because of their platform and action that this has taken place. There is a plausible argument for this. However, would this outcome have been equal, better or, “more permanent”, if a different course of action had been implemented, or even no action at all?

When we look at the data, an argument can be made for both sides. The question remains though, “do people as individuals think differently about minorities today?” Is it not the goal of the Civil Rights Act about not seeing people for skin color or sex, but as human beings with value and something to offer society? The civil rights act “forbade discrimination on the basis of sex as well as race in hiring, promoting, and firing.” (National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). With affirmative action programs we are constantly asked to look at someone’s skin color or sex to determine if they fit the criteria that affirmative action asks. If businesses do not enforce making sure that they include minorities, they are punished whether or not the minority applicants qualified for admittance or position. The government says, in essence, we must also lower standards in these areas so that those who are of different skin color or sex will qualify for admission. (Williams 2009). A quote from the article Action...
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