Affirmative Action: Is It Counter-Productive?

Pages: 4 (1486 words) Published: May 30, 2013
Module 03: Group Position Paper: Affirmative Action
Affirmative Action: Negative Team 1

Diversity in the Workplace
Professor Linda Noeth
Center for Distance Learning
SUNY Empire State College
Slavery in America can be traced all the way back to colonial times, or as historians have dated; 1619. Although slavery had technically been abolished by the late 1800’s, issues over race still remained prominent. Regulations such as “Jim Crow Laws”, that claimed to provide “separate but equal” facilities, only helped to segregate minorities and treat them as second class citizens. In response to such suppressive inequalities, the United States decided to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, religions, and women. In 1961, President Kennedy had introduced affirmative action, and in 1965 President Johnson began to put it into effect. Affirmative Action was meant to balance out some of the inequalities that had been holding back minorities from opportunities to excel in things such as; employment and school. Affirmative action was thought to be a temporary effort to fix inequalities that would, over time, fade away. However, here we are in the year 2013 and affirmative action is still largely being enforced. Because of this, much controversy over its relevance in our current day society strongly exists.

While proponents may argue that Affirmative Action is still needed, many feel that it is now counter-productive.  Americans tend to be a highly competitive society, favoring an applicant due to their skin color, religion or ethnicity unfairly gives a boost to those that are competing on ability alone (Storey, 2011).  Currently the Supreme Court is reviewing the case of Fisher vs. University of Texas, in which Abigail Fisher, a white student, was denied admission to the University of Texas due to Affirmative Action. She brought the University of Texas to court...

Bibliography: Espenshade, Thomas J. (October 4th 2012). Moving Beyond Affirmative Action. NY Times. Retrieved from
Espenshade believes that race-conscious affirmative action is necessary, and often beneficial.  He feels if affirmative action is abolished, selective colleges and universities will face a less diverse environment and that the racial and socioeconomic gap in academic performance is America’s most pressing domestic issue. 
Hu, Helen. "Debate over affirmative action in college admissions continues." Diverse Issues in Higher Education 25 Oct. 2012: 8. Academic OneFile. Web. 25 Feb. 2013.
Retrieved from:
Hu references the case of Fisher vs. University of Texas, in which Abigail Fisher, a white student, was denied admission to the University of Texas. She brought the University of Texas to court based on the fact that she felt the rejection “violated the Equal Rights Protection of the 14th Amendment,” due to the fact that she felt it was a case of reverse discrimination. The district and appellate courts upheld the University’s decision and on February 21st 2012 the U.S Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. This case is currently ongoing with the U.S Supreme Court and no decision has yet been made.
Sander, R., & Stuart, T.,Jr. (2012, Oct 13). REVIEW --- the unraveling of affirmative action. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from
Sander and Stuart review the problems students face when Affirmative Action is used to place a student in an environment in which they are not suited, too often setting them up for failure instead of success. Instead it has been found that minorities, who are more properly placed in median schools or at the level of their actual capabilities, tend to excel much faster. Furthermore, it is believed that by fostering diversity in the classroom it will inevitably create cross-racial friendships, instead studies have shown that affirmative action can actually have an opposite affect.
Storey, W. (2011, February). Affirmative action evaluated. Politics Review, 20(3), 21+. Retrieved from
Storey reviews how the people with the strongest opposition to affirmative action when it was first introduced by President Johnson in the 1960 's came from the same people who had fiercely resisted the civil rights movement and are motivated by racism.  They now say that affirmative action is counterproductive, takes away incentives for people to do their best to be successful, is seen as a type of welfare, and is solely focused on specific racial and ethnic groups.
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