The Complex Issue of Affirmative Action Essay

The Complex Issue of Affirmative Action Essay

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Affirmative action is a two-pronged effort that includes “the right of all persons to be accorded full and equal consideration on the basis of merit” (K.U Medical School) and, concurrently, a policy of actively “hiring and promoting qualified individuals in protected groups such as minorities, disabled veterans, Vietnam-era veterans and women” (U. of South Dakota). It was created to focus on education and jobs, and the policies were put in place to take active measures, under the framework of non-discrimination, to ensure that disadvantaged groups that had prevalently suffered discrimination have the same opportunities as whites. The U.S. Department of Labor describes affirmative action as the “ban[ing of] discrimination and requir[ing of] contractors and subcontractors to take… action to ensure that all individuals have an equal opportunity for employment, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or status as a Vietnam era or special disabled veteran.” (Dept. of Labor 2002)
Affirmative action also includes provisions for the monitoring of its compliance by seeking to establish standards of equality using a quantitative system to measure progress towards the goal. Importantly, “the goal-setting process in affirmative action planning is used to target and measure the effectiveness of affirmative action efforts to eradicate and prevent discrimination.” (Dept. of Labor) Whenever an employer is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964, the EEOC has judicial powers aimed at remedying the situation.
The logic of affirmative action dictates that where a “certain criterion of merit”, even if it is not intentionally discriminatory, works to the disproportionate exclusion of minorities, the b...

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...Gallup Organization, August 2, 2005.
University of South Dakota. “Equal Opportunity: Definitions.” January 21, 2004.
U.S. Census Bureau. “Historical Poverty Tables.” Washington DC: December 14, 2005.
U.S. Department of Education. “High School Dropout Rates.” The Consumer Guid       Washington DC: March 1996.  
U.S. Department of Labor.  “Facts on Executive Order 11246 -- Affirmative Action.”  January 4,
            2002.  Stable URL:
U.S. State Department, “Civil Rights Act Of 1964”.  July 2nd 1964 obtained from

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