White Paper: Affirmative Action and its “Effectiveness”
THE TOPIC BACKGROUND: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:
The Affirmative Action Act was initially signed by John F. Kennedy on March 6, 1961. Its purpose was to lead the United States of America towards being a “discrimination free” nation. In the years to come policies advocating hiring without regard to race, religion and gender came out of the nation’s capital. For its time, Affirmative Action, it did what it was supposed to. Providing minorities with employment and acceptance to universities was the main goal. This was achieved through the use of quotas.
The quota system, which is still used today, ensures that in any establishment with open positions (whether it be a place of employment or one of higher learning), everyone is represented and has an equal opportunity to acquire that position(s). Therefore, these places are supposed to have certain amounts of different kinds of people.
When Affirmative Action was created, the nation was blanketed in racial tension. This racial tension needed to be addressed by the government, and the policies of Affirmative Action were the result.
EFFECTIVENESS OF THE POLICIES:
The ability of Affirmative Action to achieve greater parity in hiring is not disputed. In fact the “over action” of affirmative action is what many have problems with. Since its creation, positions have been filled by people of all sorts of backgrounds, from different races to different genders. However, this is where the complaints start. Now that employers and colleges are required to fill “racial quotas,” there have been many reported cases in which less qualified individuals have been chosen over more qualified individuals in an attempt to satisfy the affirmative action policies. And now the counterintuitive aspect of affirmative action surfaces…
The initial need for affirmative action was spawned by the discrimination that ran the country. That means that the purpose of affirmative action was to eliminate discrimination. Unfortunately, many years later, affirmative action is causing the discrimination it once looked to destroy, but in the reverse. As a specific example, there was court case in which a student sued the University of Michigan for being denied based on her race. In short, the number of caucasians to be accepted for the term had been met, so even though she was well qualified for the position she was rejected acceptance. Instead the seat was given to a minority that the school needed to fill a quota. The term reverse discrimination was created to explain this occurrence. Instead of being denied because she was white, she was denied because she wasn’t a minority. Thus, discrimination is still in existence!
RESULTS OF REVERSE DISCRIMINATION: UNFAIR ACCUSATIONS
In the University of Michigan case, someone in the admissions office had to deny the girl a seat in the class. That unknown person, perhaps a black man, perhaps a white woman, was unfairly accused of racism against caucasians for correctly following mandated affirmative action policies. Energy wasted on attacking the person who implements the policy should be directed instead towards changing the policies to benefit everyone equally, not just minorities.
RESULTS OF REVERSE DISCRIMINATION: INCREASED RACIAL TENSION
In a source that can be found in my proposal post (number 5), racial tension that comes from reverse discrimination is outlined. The basic idea is that when people know they are rejected because a minority is needed to fill a quota, they might in return begin to dislike the minority that got the position instead. This can be the beginning of racist feelings that would never have came to be without affirmative action. In today’s society, being racist is not the “social norm” like it was when affirmative action was created. However, just like the paragraph above, animosity is directed at the wrong individuals. This time it is the alternative recipient of the position and not the one offering the position. In both cases this negative energy could be used to do something about what they find to be unfair on a political level.
OTHER NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:
Reverse discrimination is only one negative aspect of affirmative action. In reality there are negative effects that affect even the minorities that the policies defend. In work environments it is common for minorities to be looked upon as inferiors by coworkers who believe they only got the position because of race quotas (of course not everyone feels this way). Unfortunately, the policies of affirmative action can also demean minority achievement. Of course many of these achievements came from hard work but it is common to see people discounting that work, claiming it was only done with the help of affirmative action. This of course was not a wanted result of affirmative action, but through the years, these suspicions have surfaced. I do believe that the end of affirmative action would certainly bring the necessary admiration for achievement in the minority communities.
Another negative side effect of affirmative action is the lowering of standards for minorities. For example, if the normal accepted GPA of Rowan University is 3.3 (I chose this arbitrarily) but a minority can get into the school with a 2.8, that student might not be as determined to succeed. Of course the standards of a university are gauged according to the work that will be part of the schooling, so someone admitted with a lower GPA may struggle with the workload to come.
Lastly (at least for this white paper, for now), is how incredibly hard removing the policies of affirmative action would be. Since many do depend on the laws set up through affirmative action, it would be virtually impossible to eliminate them from society. This leads me to my proposal…
PROPOSAL FOR THE FUTURE:
Obviously in the United States the affirmative action policies are based on race and gender. This forces us to acknowledge the differences in people, and make decisions based on those differences. Personally, I believe the policies should be based on economic standing. In France, for example, economic class is what determines how much representation an individual receives. This ensures all underprivileged people are helped, instead of just those that are minorities.
THOSE WHO BACK AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
I realize that in order to support my claims I will have to refute what the competition believes in an academic manner. Many that believe the policies of affirmative action do more good than bad. I, on the other hand, hope to prove the opposite through all of the topics listed above, and possibly more?
TOPICS FOR SMALLER PAPERS:
My overall topic out of the many negative effects of affirmative action is the reverse discriminating aspect. It would make sense that the first small paper be a definitional claim paper to set up later papers. That way I can introduce the topic and inform my reader. I would also like to write a proposal claim paper, where I would talk about implementing a system like the French. If any of these ideas end up not working out, an evaluation/comparison claim paper can also be written, where the United States system would be evaluated and compared to that of the French.
CURRENT STATE OF THE RESEARCH PAPER:
At the moment, I have only done research, the proposal, and now the white paper. However, as I have thought about this paper I have written ideas on how to organize and present my information. Just like this white paper, the research paper and overall conclusions to be drawn are all works in progress. I plan to begin writing as soon as I get a good amount of approval from this white paper.
Even while I write I will continue to read on the subject, and “tweak” my paper as necessary. For example, I need to do more research on those that back affirmative action. That research could yield a completely different view of affirmative action as a whole…