Affirmative Action debate: Equal opportunity programs give hope, understanding

Post on January 18, 2011

Affirmative Action

West’s Encyclopedia of American Law | 2005

Employment programs required by federal statutes and regulations designed to remedy discriminatory practices in hiring minority group members; i.e., positive steps designed to eliminate existing and continuing discrimination, to remedy lingering effects of past discrimination, and to create systems and procedures to prevent future discrimination; commonly based on population percentages of minority groups in a particular area. Factors considered are race, color, sex, creed, and age.

Nothing can compensate for the centuries of oppression and degradation that minority groups have endured, but affirmative action makes a valid attempt in the direction of equality.

Welcome to the year 2011. We no longer live in an age of separate drinking fountains and meek, submissive women. We are in the era of our country’s first black president, of women being among the top Fortune 500 CEOs, and of women holding powerful seats in our government such as Speaker of the House, Supreme Court Justice and Secretary of State. These are all because minority groups (based on gender, nationality or race) were given a chance to succeed. Affirmative action has brought us to where we are today with diversity, empowerment and equality.

Affirmative action encourages hope. It encourages people to attempt something otherwise thought impossible. A minority job applicant who knows there is a window of hope against a majority competitor would be more encouraged to apply to the school or job. Without that hope, it could be discouraging and ultimately lead to continued failures and fueled stereotypes. With affirmative action, minorities can try things with the hope of not immediately hitting a glass ceiling.

Senior nursing major Michelle Long agrees with equality.

“Until all kids in the United States have access to the same quality of education, I will be supporting affirmative action,” Long said.

Without affirmative action, stereotypes would rule our society. Men and women can equally pursue careers in any field and it allows the minority to pursue the same options that only the majority is offered. It lessens the notion that a “thug life” is all an African American kid from Compton has in his future, or that a pretty blonde from Orange County can aspire to be more than a trophy wife. It breaks barriers and instead, builds diversity.

“Affirmative action is not about letting minorities who had not attained sufficient academic achievement into colleges,” Long adds. ”It was about overcoming the entrenched biases against admitting those other than elite white males through the door.”

It is not about unfair advantages, it is about encouraging achievements and supporting diversity.

America is known for the “melting pot” of cultural diversities, but not all cities have the same diverse demographic. For many small-town-folks, college is the first time they see or speak to a person of a different race. As a functioning member of society, it’s imperative to embrace cultural differences. Each student brings different values to campus and to the classroom, and affirmative action strengthens that. With a diverse environment, students are able to grow and learn more lessons than a textbook can offer. College prepares students for the real world and a critical part of that real world is interpersonal relationships. For that reason, affirmative action benefits everyone, not simply the minority.

In Boise there are still people who drive around proudly waving giant Confederate flags. Our society may be beyond segregation, but it is clear that we haven’t come far enough in the direction of equality yet. Let’s keep moving.

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