Affirmative Action Misconstrued




There is much controversy about Affirmative Action and whether or not there is still a need for these policies to exist in today’s United States society. For one to make a decision on where they stand on this issue it is imperative to look over the history, facts, and issues at hand. When looking over this information I would have to conclude that I support affirmative action.


According to Marquita Sykes from the National Organization of Women, August, 1995 newsletter Affirmative Action means “the set of public policies and initiatives designed to help eliminate past and present discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”. This definition allows one to see that affirmative action is in place to benefit all United States Citizens to ensure that no one is discriminated against.


According to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary discriminating means “1 a: to mark or perceive the distinguishing or peculiar features of b: DISTINGUISH, DIFFERENTIATE <discriminate hundreds of colors>
2: to distinguish by discerning or exposing differences; especially: to distinguish from another like object intransitive senses. 2: to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit <discriminate in favor of your friends> <discriminate against a certain nationality>”


With this definition one can see that discrimination can happen to anyone no matter what color you are, sex, age, national origin etc. This is why affirmative action was put in place. The controversy about affirmative action is now taking place because of misconstrued ideas or notions about what affirmative action is, and what it means to the United States people.


The “majority” here in the United States is made up of Caucasians and mostly Caucasian men. The “majority” is starting this controversy because of false pretenses that involve economic competition. The “majority” believes that they are being discriminated against for positions in jobs as well as placement in schools because of affirmative action. They claim there is reverse discrimination (according to Merriam-Webster’s definition I don’t understand what reverse discrimination is. Discrimination is discrimination whether it is a white against black or black against white, Jewish against Christianity, friend against stranger etc.) The “majority” say they are not obtaining jobs because companies and schools are hiring “minorities” to meet quotas for affirmative action.


Along with this notion the “majority” has this idea that the “minorities” being hired do not have the same qualifications as they do. Their individual merit doesn’t “stand up to” the “majorities” merit.


Putting these things together the “majority” then says that their rights have been violated under the Fourteenth Amendment in the US Constitution. However, one has to look long and hard at these allegations to figure out if they are true or not. I have concluded that they are not.


Race has a big factor when considering affirmative action because one’s race has a whole lot to do with how one perceives themselves and the world around them when living in the United States society. “As described by Professor Eric Foner of Columbia University, one of the nations leading historians, race has been the central determining factor of American society from slavery to the Civil War and Reconstruction and from segregation to the civil rights movement. As numerous witnesses testified, race continues to shape a person’s relation to healthcare, housing, criminal justice, political participation and representation, and education. (See, e.g., JA 7834-7836; 7857-7867, 8032-8033, 8413-8419)” (University of Michigan Supreme Court Case). This leads to different attitudes in regards to these situations as well as toward freedom between the “majority” and “minority”. “[M]ost white people in America think freedom is something they have. Sometimes they’re afraid that someone is trying to take it away from them, whether it’s the government, or terrorists, or conspirators, or big corporations (I might add “minorities”). Most African Americans think freedom is something they are still striving to achieve. It’s something that lies in the future. It’s not a given, it’s a struggle. It’s an aspiration. And since freedom is such a central value in our society… that basic difference in outlook percolates out into many, many other areas. (JA 8418-8419)” (University of Michigan Supreme Court Case).


Thinking about this, what lead to placing affirmative action policies into effect? Fact is racial discrimination, and the attempt to lesson or