Affirmative Action Laws Are Fair

Affirmative action laws have been widely debated since the rise of affirmative action movements of 1960s and consequent enactment of affirmative action laws. Affirmative action refer to group of policies and laws which are meant to correct the past injustices that have been perpetrated discrimination based on different social factors. Affirmative action laws are directed towards elimination of discrimination in different social areas like hiring, admissions, and others where there has been rampant discrimination based on factors like race, gender, religious orientation, and others.  However, the necessity and appropriateness of affirmative action laws has been widely debated with the opposing sides taking different stands and giving concrete reasons that prove their case. Affirmative action laws are taken to ensure that there is equality in the society. It is rooted on elimination of discrimination rather than waiting for the society to fix discrimination problems that have been perpetrated for centuries by natural means.  Affirmative action laws are just meant to enforce the moral obligations that have not been fulfilled in the society. As such, affirmative action should not be perceived as a mechanism to discriminate or favor others in the society. However, affirmative action laws have been widely criticized especially when they are perceived to favor one section of the society. Despite such criticism, affirmative action laws are good as they ensure that basic moral principles of equality are upheld by all members of the society and in different social spheres.

The need for affirmative action
Affirmative action laws originated from 1960s movements which were demanding racial equity. Regarded as one the most volatile decades in the world, 1960s saw enactment of laws which called for racial and gender equity. The word affirmative action was first used by President J. F Kennedy in 1961 when he ordered federal contractors to take affirmative action in a bid to ensure that all applicants were given job opportunities regardless of their race, creed, color, or nationality.  The same order was issued again in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson requiring affirmative action in government employment.   While racial discrimination in employment opportunities had been addressed, gender equity became another thorny issue that had to be entrenched in affirmative action bandwagon. In 1967, President Johnson was again forced to issue another order that required end of gender discrimination in employment.

Theoretical underpinning for affirmative action is based on the need to have equal opportunity and increase diversity. In a fast changing world that is characterized by interracial coexistence, affirmative action theory has been proposed to ensure that a moral and ethical principle that upholds equality is considered.  Therefore, theoretical impetus towards affirmative action laws can be explained in two ways. First, these laws are meant to maximize diversity in the society. Second, affirmative action laws are meant to redress disadvantages that results from overt and institutional discriminations.  This implies that the need for affirmative action laws is to manifest justices in the society and in advance compensate for persecutions and exploitations that may have been committed towards a group of people in the past.  Affirmative action operate under theoretical framework that assume that certain people or a group of people has  been innocently discriminated and  hence assert the need to put in place laws that protect their interests.  However, this theory is criticized on the ground that affirmative action is reverse discrimination. This is because affirmative action slaws are merely motivated by racism. Critics argue that instead of affirmative action, there should be a framework that stress on competitiveness in employment qualification and education.

In both theory and thought, affirmative action is supposed to promote the welfare of minority groups in the society.  Affirmative action is rooted on the idea that all individuals in the society are equal and hence deserve equal life. Affirmative actions perceive individuals as equals regardless of their race, gender, or religious orientations.  Affirmative action laws therefore call for implementation of policies which advance the rights of the minority groups in the society and at the same time ensure that majority have their way. It ensures that minority are also provided with a fair ground to exercise their rights. Owing to high level of segregation in the society, it has become necessary to put in place legal mechanisms that enforce minority policies. In reality, affirmative action should be implemented as a matter of personal moral consciousness since it is based on universal assumption of equality among all human races. Biological, social, and religious theories conjecture that human race share similarities and therefore no one should be considered superior to the other. Though there may be biological differences that define races, sexes, and other traits, human beings share basic biological cells which are central to sustenance of life.
The hard question had been is affirmative action moving us towards the right direction  There are many people doubt whether affirmative action is taking the world where it desired to be. Despite the enactment of affirmative action laws, widespread discrimination is still being experienced in different sectors of the society. In addition, affirmative action is viewed differently according to the side an individual stands. Whites think that affirmative action is only a noble idea theoretically but it has been counterproductive in practice. They may argue that it has served to harden racial differences instead of bridging them since one argues for or against it depending on their situation. Instead of eroding racial mistrust, affirmative action seems to have increased racial mistrust. It has confirmed White stereotype in regard to inadequacy of blacks skills.  On the other hand, blacks and Hispanics raise their voice arguing that affirmative action has been a direct insult to their self-respect.  It has been argued that affirmative action just plays the idea of victimization of blacks and serves better to pacify White guilt instead of advancing advancement of blacks.

Reviewing the points highlighted above, it is evident that critics of affirmative actions are likely to give a number of arguments to discredit it.  In reality, one is likely to defend affirmative action depending on the side they stand whether they are oppressors or oppressed. It is evident that while stereotypically both sides are supposed to take different stands on affirmative action, a good percentage of individuals in both sides are also likely to take different view of affirmative action from majority view on both sides. This implies that there will be supporters and critics of affirmative action on the side of majority and minority depending on how the specific individual is affected, whether positively or negatively, by affirmative action. Amid this debate which is mainly based on anecdotes and impressions, there is evidence that affirmative action has really worked to bridge the gap between racial and gender differences.

The first important argument for affirmative actions is to call for support of the laws upon which nations are built on. United States as a nation was founded on the ideals of equality for all men. George Washington, in his address to the nation stressed from time to time that our nation was built on ideals of equality of all people. This was the reason why Americans had to shed blood during the civil war in an effort to free slaves.  Ending of slave trade and slavery was given as a pre-requisite condition for admission to the union and all Southern states agreed to end slavery in order to be admitted to the union. This implies that they had all agreed to the basic idea that all human being were equal.  The enactment of affirmative action laws was the last step in realization of United States of America as it underpinned the ideals that George Washington and other fathers of the nation had campaigned for all this time.  Enactment of affirmative action laws brought to a sudden end the Jim Crow laws that undermined equality in United States.  

Therefore, critics of affirmative actions could be affirming the existence of brutal laws like Jim Crow laws that perpetuated white ethnocentrism and undermined moral principle of equality for all men.  If United States, as a country, is to live by the ideals of its founders, then there should be no argument about any law that is geared towards ensuring equality for all people. Criticism of affirmative action laws affirms lack of sense of belonging to a society that call for equality of all men.

In real sense, it is evident that for more than seventy years before affirmative action laws were implemented, a period that was marked by social engineering, majority of individuals who benefited from affirmative action laws, was not minorities but rather white males.   It could have been perceived as racial segregation but in real sense it was affirmative action for white that was based on white ethnocentrism. Historically, affirmative actions polices have only turned negative when they were advanced to minority groups but not when advanced to majorities. Taking an example of the New Deal, it was until when it was advanced to minority groups that it was became an issue.  The New Deal was enacted at the height massive unemployment in the United States that could be attributed to the Great Depression.  In essence, the New Deal was first advanced to all races but when it Minority groups were given government handouts it caused such a backlash.  The New Deal was not an affirmative action by itself but it was just an extension of the affirmative actions that was mean to give minority groups relieve in such hard times.  This affirms that affirmative action has become a part and parcel of American society and we should not recede back to our racial cocoons and criticize the policy while in real sense it has benefited all races alike.  Everybody is bound together through a vast network of affirmative action that supports us in different ways, although it is taken for granted.  It is therefore hypocritical to criticize affirmative action on ground that it will benefit the minority groups which in real sense can be termed as racism in reverse.  If affirmative action has negative effect when it is advanced to minorities, it should also be considered to have similar negative effects when advanced to bankers, farmers, politicians, and others as entitlements.

There are those who argue that affirmative action is no longer necessary because there are anti-discrimination laws in place.  However, it should be realized that colored people and women still face major discrimination not only in the work place but in other social places as well.  Recent surveys shows that a staggering 70 of schools are yet to comply with Title IX which was meant to outlaw discrimination in education. Title IX is the federal law that outlines equal education opportunity.  How then can one say that affirmative actions laws are not necessary because discrimination is illegal In addition, research shows that pay equity has not been achieved despite government laws that outlaw discrimination.  Women still earn less than men.  If outlawing discrimination amounts to equality, why is that for every dollar men earns, women earn just 74 cents, African American women earn 3 cents, while Latin American women earn 57 cents In comparative occupation, only 25 of all doctors in United States are women, only 1 of women are auto mechanics while only 8.4 of engineers are women.  This means that affirmative action is required in order to advance strategies that will bridge these gaps. Affirmative action laws are meant to empower women to become competitive so that they can compete on the same level with men.  It is also meant to empower minority groups to enable them compete for opportunities with majority groups.  Affirmative actions laws are not meant for racial minorities or women alone but they are meant to empower everyone in the society.

Affirmative actions laws are aimed at advancing equal opportunity for all people in the society.  Enactment of equal opportunity laws could be described as the hallmark of foundation of United States since these laws fulfilled the ideals which brought together different unions to form the United States.  American civil war was all about upholding the rights of every man.  The end of the war came with an understanding that every person living on American soil was equal and no one could be discriminated based on gender, racial, or religious orientation. However, the dream of equality among all people in United States did not come to pass until the 1960s civil rights struggle led to enactment of affirmative action laws.  Affirmative action laws should therefore be upheld since they ensure that disparities in the societies which lead to discrimination are bridged. In a diverse community like United States, affirmative action laws should be upheld.


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