Affirmative Action in the United States consists of the active efforts that take into account race, sex and national origin for the purpose of remedying and preventing discrimination. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal government requires certain businesses and educational institutions that receive federal funds to develop affirmative action programs. Such policies are enforced and monitored by both The Office of Federal Contract Compliance and The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (Lazear 37).
The most noteworthy criticism of affirmative action is that of the white male population who insists that such programs are forms of "reverse discrimination". In contrast to their view, the United States Commission on Civil Rights argued until 1983 that only if society were operating fairly would measures that take race, sex, and national origin into account be "preferential treatment." After the commission on civil rights was reorganized in late 1983, however, it took the opposite position. By January of 1984, it approved a statement that "racial preferences merely constitute another form of unjustified discrimination". In recent years, however, affirmative action has continued to grow, and the number of controversies surrounding its existence is consistently augmented.
In 1978, in University of California Regents v. Bakke, the U.S. Supreme Court held (5-4) that fixed quotas may not be set for places for minority applicants for medical school if white applicants are denied a chance to compete for those places. The court, however, did say that professional schools may consider race as a factor in making decisions on admissions. More recently than the Regents decision, in United Steelworkers of America V. Weber (1979) and Fullilove v. Klutznick (1980), the court continued to hold for affirmative action.
II. An Introduction to the Controversy
The transformation of affirmative action over the years is generally considered a negative and socially unfair one. Although the original intention of such programs with regard to minority management was one of an undeniably just nature, my research has clearly indicated that over the years, various legal trends have drastically altered the socio-political implications of affirmative action often creating unfair situations for white males who are not part o...
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...ope for in the current system is an augmentation in the number of companies educating their employees on multicultural human relations. Since the eventual long-term goal is to eliminate prejudice, the only way to do so in corporate America is to teach people about acceptance. Executive stereotyping only exists because mainstream stereotyping exists. Minorities can stop feeling like "inferior tokens" when whites stop regarding us as such and stereotyping us out of sheer ignorance.
Affirmative action must exist at least as symbolism of this country's commitment to civil rights. The thick blood of prejudice will still continue to run through the veins of U.S. society, despite upbeat talk about the increasingly diversified work force. Government-mandated hiring preferences prod companies into integrating their work force, and in the past twenty-five years of
affirmative action, blacks and other minorities have indeed benefitted both socially and economically. Individual businesses and the economy have profited, not lost. Until the United States conceives a better idea, it is most wise to maintain a policy that despite its flaws, is both a moral imperative and an economic necessity.
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