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Affirmative Action Creates Reverse Discrimination

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Affirmative action has been a controversial topic for many years. This policy was created to ensure equal opportunity for minorities and women in the workforce and educational institutions (Gross, 1977). Over fifty years ago the policy has proven to have a positive effect; but now, many think the policies are no longer needed and that they lead to more problems than they can possibly solve. One side of the argument believes that affirmative action is detrimental to creating a color blind society. The people on the other side of the argument believe that affirmative action promotes the hiring of unqualified individuals just to please society. The policies associated with affirmative action create ratios and quotas to pressure companies to hire based-on race or gender and not on merit. Affirmative action leads to preferential treatment and reverse discrimination.

Affirmative action diminished discrimination against minorities and women, but in turn has caused discrimination against white men. The policy started in The Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the beginning, affirmative action only targeted reducing "racial imbalance" in the work place: later changed to include college admissions and the awarding of government contracts (Zelnick, 1996). Women, elderly, people with disabilities, and all people of color are protected by affirmative action. "The policy goes a step farther by requiring employers to take Ð''affirmative' steps to achieve a balanced representation of workers" (Yates, 1997). This starts the controversy with affirmative action.

One heavily debated topic of this debate deals with the usage of "quotas". By law, quotas are prohibited. However, the question is still up in the air whether they exist or not. Thomas J. Kane defends the usage of quotas by using this analogy: "Reserving a parking space for a disabled person has only a Ð''minuscule effect' on the availability on parking spots, but it frustrates every driver that passes it." (Fobanjong, 2001) Affirmative action activists argue that the policy does not force employers to hire a predetermined number of any races (Stein, 1997). However, according to K.L. Billingsley,

"One day in January 1995 a number of companies in San Diego, California, woke up to find that they had a "deficient work force." it meant that under San Diego's new Equal Opportunity Ordinance, the companies were guilty of "a statistically significant underutilization of ethnic or gender groups in any occupational category" (1998, Page 1).

These companies are among the many that were threatened with fines if they did not represent a "politically acceptable statistical percentage" number of workers (Yates, 1997). Mike Welbel, owner of The Daniel Lamp Company, experienced this firsthand when his company was investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Mike was accused and taken to court based on racial discrimination. Prior to this situation discrimination meant "refusal to hire for a desirable position, based-on a group characteristic" (Roberts, 1995). However, the word took on an entirely different meaning following this situation. Now it meant "lack of a politically acceptable statistical percentage" (Yates, 1997). Politically acceptable meaning the percentage of members of targeted groups in the local or regional population. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) computer was the foundation to prosecute Mike Welbel. The company's computer claimed, "Based on 363 companies employing 100 or more people and located within a three-mile radius of The Daniel Lamp Company, Daniel Lamp should employ at any given moment exactly 8.45 blacks" (Yates, 1997). Undoubtedly, that is a quota. Although backers of affirmative action try to disguise the use of quotas with wordiness, it is clear any way that this is looked at, they are using quotas. This means that if a white man and someone belonging to a group protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were applying for the same position with a company, and the company was low on their representation of a certain minority group, he would get it over the white man; even though the white man may be more qualified. Even though law clearly states the EEOC can not set quotas, they continue to exist.

Another highly controversial issue dealing with affirmative action is the fact that colleges are forced to accept prospective students based on race instead of merit. School officials say that diversity is desirable and affirmative action is the only way to achieve true diversity (Roberts, 1995). John Fobanjong (2001) elaborates on this subject by stating:

" Some companies feel that affirmative action leads to a variety of benefits, including increased productivity, diversity of ideas, a more rational personal policy, and improved community relations" (21).

Nancy Stein along with many others who believe affirmative action is a necessity, claim that an "anti-affirmative action position assumes a narrow, over-simplified conception of merit based on test scores, grade point average, or other measurable standards"(2). They also argue that there is a small correlation between performance or professional success and test scores (Stein,2). However, Nancy Stein claims, "There is a major relationship between race, income level, educational resources, and test scores" (3) Activists of this policy feel that college admission tests "tend to reflect the experiences of middle-class students and their access to higher-quality education than that available to less-advantaged students" (Roberts, 6). Therefore, making them culturally biased. On the other hand, critics of affirmative action argue that the students of low-income families who may have also have suffered discrimination became or remained impoverished because of racism (Gross, 34). Choices an individual makes have a greater impact on his or her living conditions than anything else. "Illegitimacy, substance abuse, and poor study and work habits can mire an individual in poverty as surely as racism can" (Zelnick, 3). Others also argue that the majority of the students affected by affirmative action are eighteen-year-olds, born in 1980s. Roger Clegg points out:

"They probably have not participated much in the work force; if they have, the laws prohibiting discrimination against them on the basis of race or ethnicity have been in effect since long before they were born" (2).

Therefore, they are "unlikely to have suffered the kind of systematic discrimination against him or her that would justify systematic discrimination in his or her favor" (Clegg, 2). There is a highly publicized controversy with the admission policies at the University

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