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"Affirmative Action": A Road Towards Equality.

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"Affirmative Action": A Road Towards Equality.


Social Psychology 205

Table of Contents

Introduction 3

Definition 3

History 4

Employment 5

Education 6

Arguments For 7

Arguments Against 7

Conclusion 8

References 9

"Affirmative Action": A Road Towards Equality.

When two groups are in competition with each other for scarce resources, they threaten each other. This is the definition for the realistic group conflict theory. The majority and minority in the United States have been executing this theory for years. Recently, this battle has been brought to the forefront with the argument surrounding the enrollment procedures into Michigan University. Going forward, this paper will discuss how affirmative action has impacted the goals of equality in the workplace and education.


When trying to define the term affirmative action you can begin to see why the there is some much controversy about the subject. Different definitions invoke different impressions of its intentions. The actual definition as defined by is a policy or a program that seeks to redress past discrimination through active measures to ensure equal opportunity, as in education and employment. Williams (2003) believes that people view it three ways. Two of the views see

it positively as a policy for nondiscrimination or a policy for desired racial preferences. The third view displays disagreements with the policy, believing that it is insensitive or racist.


The emergence of affirmative action stemmed from the signing of the tenth executive order (925) in 1961 by John F. Kennedy which created the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO). By this order, federal contractors were suppose to hire without discriminating but the wording did not specify on how and if they were suppose report on their compliance. Subsequently, in 1969 republican President Richard Nixon signed executive order eleven (478) requiring federal agencies to create affirmative action programs. The University of California vs. Bakke Supreme court case of 1978 was monumental. In this case, a white applicant felt that the schools quota admission policy was his reason for not getting admittance and the Supreme Court agreed. Then in 1997, California passed proposition 209, which abolished all forms of affirmative action programs within the state. This led to the

1998 Washington state initiative 200, which abolished it as well. Following them was Florida in 2000 with Governor Bush's' education initiative that would abolish affirmative action in respect to school admissions. Finally was the 2001 Michigan University case, where a judge ruled that the admissions policies were unfair. This ruling was overturned in 2002 but now is under the gun again.


Since affirmative action is a government program it is upheld in the federal and state government as well as companies under contract with either. A majority of major companies have also adopted programs to help with diversity and EEO. A 1995 report from the U.S. Labor Department stated that 5 million minorities and 6 million white and minority females had gained from this program ("Ten Myths," 2003). Even though positive outcomes have occurred in the work place because of the programs there are people that disagree with the process in which the outcomes were gained. Dan Froomkin (1998) wrote that "Angry white men" blame affirmative action for robbing them of promotions and other opportunities. A lot of the controversy surrounding employment is due to the quotas set for the hiring,

firing and promotion of state employees. In organizations like the police and fire department where people of the majority may

be overlooked because of a set number of the minorities that have to be met.


In the world of academics, programs were applied to ensure that enrollment to public colleges and universities remained equal. Unlike employment in the schools, admission is not controlled by government regulations. Affirmative action programs had been voluntarily instituted by the admission administrators in a majority of the schools through out the 1960's and 1970's. One of the major concerns in school programs are that students of the majority may not be selected based upon point systems even though they may have better grades or SAT scores. The minorities, in most cases, gain additional points simply for being a minority. On the other hand, majorities may be seen as having the upper hand because of the economic status of there parents. This may afford them better opportunities for high school educations which turn into more points towards their admissions.

Arguments For

To discuss the arguments that support affirmative

action programs, we should look at those things that effect society as a whole first. Providing more opportunities for positive role models and stereotypes is crucial to the forward mobility of minorities. Secondly, being able to create an environment where all races are equally represented by proportion. Thirdly, that minorities should be compensated for the years of racism and sexism that has added to the difficulty in gaining a level



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