Affirmative action is a policy or a program that seeks to redress past discrimination of minorities through active measures in order to ensure equal opportunity, as in education and employment. In other words, it is policy that was established to hopefully eliminate racial preference and equalize the United States. The fight against discrimination has been a long lasting one that started with the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson, which ended in the desegregation of all schools (Ficker). Affirmative action was put into place in 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Executive Order that mandated government contractors to “take affirmative action” in all aspects of hiring and employing minorities (Brunner). Upon its arrival, the policy experienced great success. Schools and work places were becoming more integrated and the United States as a whole was becoming and equal nation. The policy of affirmative action still stands today but it comes with much debate. Many argue that our nation is now equal and we should exonerate this policy due to the fact that it is unfair to the white population. As much as these people do not want to believe it, the United States is still a prejudice nation, and it is because of this simple fact that affirmative action is necessary. Affirmative action is a very legitimate policy and it is the best move the U.S. has ever made towards equality.
The most prominent argument against affirmative action states that the policy is reverse discrimination, and in no case can a means of discrimination equalize the nation. The question at hand is: is discriminating against the white population the best way to make up for past discrimination? The landmark case of Regents of the University of California vs. Bakke played a huge role in this problem. The case consisted of a white male, Bakke, who had been denied two years in a row to medical school. In place of him, “less qualified” minority students were being accepted due to the fact that the university had separate admission policies (Brunner). As a result of this case, limitations were imposed on affirmative action to ensure that providing the minorities with extra opportunity does not affect the rights of the majority. This basically stated that affirmative action was wrong if it was reverse discrimination. Any arguments saying that affirmative action is unfair are completely voided by this court ruling. Since the 1954 case of Brown vs. Board of Education, the United States has been in a constant struggle for equality. The policy of affirmative action has been the most prominent and successful move towards the goal of equality.
Despite the ruling in the California vs. Bakke case, people to this day still believe that affirmative action policies are unfair to the white population. What these people do not see is that studies have shown that the United States is still a prejudice and racist nation. As much as the people, most being conservatives, want to believe that this nation is equal, it is not. The problem is that there is no way to distinguish when and where racial discrimination is taking place. There is no way to watch the acceptance process of every minority student and keep track of why the student did not get accepted. In Will Affirmative Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes by Stephen Coate and Glenn C. Loury it is stated that the goal of affirmative action is to break down discrimination, “but if negative views about a minority group are not eroded or, indeed, are worsened by affirmative action, then it must be maintained permanently for that group’s gains to be protected.” Discrimination still exists, so the policy is not only to make up for the past but for the present as well. Affirmative action is technically a means of discrimination against the white population, but without the policy, it is impossible to have an equal nation because discrimination of the minority population will never end.
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