Affirmative Action Policy is designed to provide rights and privileges to groups that have previously been discriminated against based on race, nationality, or gender. The first serious attempt to eliminate all types of social inequality in the U.S was made by John F. Kennedy, who signed “Executive Order No. 10925” on 6 March 1961 (Collins, Sharon, and Dodson 16). This has created a legal basis for the fair treatment of employees in the workplace, regardless of skin color, origin, religion, or gender. The law was developed in such a way that now it does not matter what color a person comes in; everyone has an equal chance, which creates equality and choice. A similar example of this can be found in the United Kingdom, where hiring someone only because they are of minority status is illegal, enforced by the “Equality Act 2010” Santoro, Doris A., et al. “Living with Moral Disagreement pg. 358).
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However, with the development of an understanding of what an affirmative action policy should be, and the emergence of such things as hiring quotas or employment quotas, this topic is becoming more controversial. Some people consider this policy socially necessary to restore historical justice, while others consider it socially unnecessary and even harmful. Therefore, on the one hand, affirmative action is a good method of eliminating discrimination at a faster rate, while on the other hand, it can also be called “reverse discrimination.” Indeed, while the main idea is to avoid favoritism and injustice, affirmative action can lead to the opposite, as there are groups that are discriminated against because they are not considered minorities. Thus, to clarify why these problems exist, it is necessary to analyze the moral basis of the current affirmative action approach. However, it should also be borne in mind that affirmative action can also and well influence the outcome, which will lead to equality in society, and racial discrimination will disappear.
The difficulty of resolving conflicts between different groups about the need for affirmative action depends on the nature of the problem itself. From an ethical point of view, neither discrimination against white people in the interests of minority groups nor idleness in the fight against racism is acceptable. However, while this seems theoretically possible, in practice, an attempt to restore justice in the workplace and at the university often leads to the violation of the rights of the “dominant group.” However, this does not mean that this practice is impossible; by gradually restoring fairness, equality can be achieved. In this regard, Michele noted, “the impossibility objection asserts that it is simply impossible to resolve these kinds of moral differences.” (Collins, Sharon M., and Dodson, Michelle S pg. 358). For this reason, different groups of society have different opinions about whether affirmative action was acceptable today.
Some groups of humanity that refused to take positive action have caused great despair among other members of society because of their race, religion, nationality, or gender. The fall of its members caused a split in the community as well. For example, controversies have arisen between whites and African Americans over racism in America in the past few years due to police brutality. This gave rise to one to two sides of the controversy on the issue, which were broadcast throughout the country. Both races discuss the problem on an equal footing, which suggests that there is respect between them, and their main task is to prevent the problem. As a result, our generation has not experienced this split since the Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896.
Based on the previous analysis, it is fair to say that if people have the intention to erase or “get rid” of discrimination altogether, then using the reverse style is not seen as an effective solution. This approach leads to escalation and conflicts between different groups based on their differences in identity. When minorities are more likely to get a job or go to a university of their choice based solely on the fact that they are minorities, it looks like another form of injustice has occurred. However, it should be noted that society is entering the stage of equality, and in the future, there will be no difference between the races. Thus, Lippert-Rasmussen suggests asking ourselves, “what makes affirmative action morally (un) justified?” (Lippert-Rasmussen, Kasper pg. 10). This is a sensible question as it invites us to carefully assess the advantages and disadvantages of affirmative action and reflect deeply on the implications and consequences of current policies in this area. Without a doubt, the benefits of affirmative action include prioritizing diversity across all races and promoting social mobility regardless of their income or social status. Affirmative action has good intentions to provide minority groups with equal access to various institutions, and decision-making bodies, which will only be a good result for society.
Moreover, the effectiveness of affirmative action has not been fully researched and truly studied, so it seems that it is being used based on assumptions and stereotypes made in different situations. Holzer, Harry, and David noted that “Although the debate over affirmative action is both high-profile and high-intensity, neither side’s position is based on a well-established set of research findings” (Lippert-Rasmussen, Kasper pg. 1). When data on the consequences of affirmative action is lacking, it is not easy to assume that they are not relevant. Therefore, more research results on this topic are needed to avoid misunderstandings and study the data on the consequences of affirmative action properly.
In conclusion, it was shown that affirmative action is a highly debatable topic, although its main implication is probably supported by the majority. In this regard, the main problem that arises is the ‘reverse discrimination that appears as a consequence of certain policies. As a result, people are generally divided into two camps: those who support affirmative action policies and those who do not. However, most of the arguments that appear today are based on people’s presumptions and personal in-group, religious, and moral values. For this reason, further top-level management steps necessitate more research which would help to decide why and whether we should still practice affirmative action around the country and beyond. Analysis, data, and other methods to find the endings to this research are endless to seek within these high-profile communities where disagreement may be happening. However, as of now, people still lack knowledge about the impact of various political and legislative decisions. It is still not fully clear what is the influence of these policies on both members of minority groups and other U.S. citizens. Therefore, to ensure that affirmative action policies bring the maximum benefits for the whole society, all the stakeholders involved must seek to support the evidence-based change.
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Collins, Sharon M., and Dodson, Michelle S. Challenging the Status Quo: Diversity, Democracy, and Equality in the 21st Century. Brill, 2018.
Lippert-Rasmussen, Kasper. Making Sense of Affirmative Action. Oxford University Press, 2020.
Holzer, Harry, and David Neumark. “Assessing Affirmative Action.” National Bureau of Economic Research, 1999. Working paper.
Santoro, Doris A., et al. “Living with Moral Disagreement: The Enduring Controversy about Affirmative Action.” Educational Theory, vol. 69, no. 3, 2019, pp. 355–370. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, EBSCOhost, Web.