Social Inequality in America
Affirmative action was created to help level the playing field for disadvantaged minorities. It was set in place by people that understand that because of inequality of opportunity, some minorities need a helping hand to get to a position that others in the society, who are not part of a minority group, don’t have to fight for. In its tumultuous 45-year history, affirmative action has been both praised and pilloried as an answer to racial inequality. The term "affirmative action" was first introduced by President Kennedy in 1961 as a method of redressing discrimination that had persisted in spite of civil rights laws and constitutional guarantees. It was developed and enforced for the first time by President Johnson. "This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights," Johnson asserted. "We seek… not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result." (Brunner) “Affirmative action” means positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded. When those steps involve preferential selection—selection on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity—affirmative action generates intense controversy. (Fullinwider) The development, defense, and contestation of preferential affirmative action have proceeded along two paths. One has been legal and administrative as courts, legislatures, and executive departments of government have made and applied rules requiring affirmative action. The other has been the path of public debate, where the practice of preferential treatment has spawned a vast literature, pro and con. Often enough, the two paths have failed to make adequate contact, with the public quarrels not always very securely anchored in any existing legal basis or practice. (Fullinwider) One specific positive affect that affirmative action has had on our society is that the universities now have greater reason to recruit minorities. Unlike in the recent past, when most institutions of higher education saw themselves as ivory towers of theory and intellectuality, many now consider supplying specific companies with minority recruits to be one of their key missions. Above the high-toned and often hypocritical arguments opposing affirmative action in college admissions, a long-overdue revolution is under way at many of the nation's major universities. (Maxwell) At the core of this new movement are common sense and hard reality, the two ingredients that have been sorely missing in the mean-spirited debate over affirmative action in this conservative era. And the University of Michigan, supported by several Fortune 500 companies, is at ground zero of the movement. (Maxwell) In our highly competitive global economy, American companies increasingly are being forced to recruit overseas. For this reason alone, assisting American minorities and training them at our universities make perfect sense in the real world. This collaborative effort, although symbiotic, is especially important in fields such as engineering, the sciences and business, where companies are desperate for minorities. (Maxwell) University officials acknowledge that they are not operating solely from higher principles of social and economic justice. (Maxwell) Many small to large non-profit groups, such as Inroads, the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, have made a science of matching industry with institutions of higher education that provide recruits. Most of these organizations offer minority students -- with 3.0 grade-point averages -- fellowships and match them with companies that will give them paid internships, mentoring and offers of...