Even though slavery has not been a part of America for over a century now, racial discrimination still exists in various parts of our culture. A controversial policy known as affirmative action was introduced in the 1960’s to try and promote racial equality in society. Affirmative action is supposed to give minorities an equal chance in life by requiring minority employment, promotions, college acceptance, etc. At first this sounds like a perfect solution to racial discrimination, but in reality it is discrimination in reverse. The term “affirmative action” was first used back in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy in an executive order designed to encourage racially mixed work forces. He stated that contractors should “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin.” (Affirmative Action) Then in 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed which prohibited employment discrimination based on race or sex. The Civil Rights activists continued to argue that minorities weren’t going to be able to compete with the more qualified applicants after having suffered discrimination for so long. So in 1969 President Nixon made it a federal policy that a certain percentage of minorities must be hired in the workplace. Quickly affirmative Baker 2
action changed from being a policy that ensured equal opportunity to being one that gave unfair advantages to minorities. Affirmative action has remained controversial throughout the years, finding itself in and out of the courts. One of the most famous cases was Fullilove vs. Klutznick, which took place in 1980. The ruling stated that setting aside 10 percent of the hiring for minorities was constitutional. Fortunately in 1996 proposition 209 was passed in California which ended affirmative action throughout the state. This was definitely a breakthrough, but the effects of affirmative action still linger. Many businesses and corporations still give preference to minorities even if they are less qualified. Employers fear that lawsuits will be filed stating that applicants were turned down because of their race. Renowned author and political activist Nathan Glazer, has been against affirmative action since its beginning. Glazer believes that the policy became controversial when it went beyond the ideas of the Civil Rights Act and started requiring employers to hire or promote a certain number of minority applicants or employees. In order to make sure that affirmative action was taking place, federal courts started enforcing “quotas” or “goals” for specific numbers of minority hiring. If these were met, lawsuits based on racial discrimination would be less valid. Says Glazer, “Affirmative action has become a matter of setting statistical goals or quotas by race for employment... the expectations of color blindness that was
paramount in the 1960’s has been replaced by a rigid frame of numerical requirements.”(Glazer, 6) Those who oppose quotas and goals are said to be opposers of the Civil Rights Act, even though the affirmative action of today is not what the Civil Rights Act embodied. Glazer compares the misinterpretation of the Civil Rights Act to the desegregation of schools. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional. The idea of racially integrated schools, like racially integrated workplaces, is an excellent one. However, the desegregation of schools has made busing a necessity. Busing, although not in use today, is when students are transferred to another school for purposes of racial integration. It is costly to run all the buses and the commuting is hard on the students. Those opposing busing are said to agree with the segregation of schools.(Glazer, 10) The desegregation of schools was also mentioned in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Initially this seemed a fair proposal, but just as affirmative action became detrimental in...