Has Affirmitive Action Overstepped Its Bounds? Essay

Submitted By drewksparks
Words: 2079
Pages: 9

Affirmative action is a controversial government agenda begun in the 1960s that was designed to counteract historic discrimination faced by ethnic minorities, women, and other underrepresented groups. It essentially gives special rights of hiring or advancement to ethnic minorities over white men. Equality is defined as “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities” (New Oxford American Dictionary). After the civil rights movement, affirmative action continued to be implemented in a discreet way, becoming a widely supported public policy. Proof of this is the active role our government plays in assuring that African Americans have the same “equal” opportunities that white citizens have. Although it was originally intended to help African American citizens to be on the same level with white citizens, affirmative action may have ended in white Americans being disadvantaged.
The United States was founded on equality, with liberty and justice for all. Contrary to this basic belief, historically the “for all” was meant only for white males. Even after the Civil War, African Americans in most parts of the United States were greatly discriminated against, while white citizens were favored in almost every possible way. Black Americans were unable to use the same water fountains, restaurants, bathrooms, even government buildings, such as schools. “No
Sparks 1
Negros” or “No Colored” signs were everywhere, and they were just as common, if not more so, as signs reading, “No Dogs” or “No Smoking.” These actions were not only allowed, but even supported by the government.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most outspoken supporters of “equality” between African Americans and whites. In his famous speech, “I Have A Dream,” Dr. King said:
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
In this, King emphasized that he wanted “equality,” but today African Americans are singled out by those who make a conscious effort to treat them better than if they were white. Today this is what is called “affirmative action.” According to the American Association for Affirmative Action, it is defined as being “an instrument to fulfill the nation’s promise of equal opportunity.” Upon a quick Google search of the term, one of the first listings was for a government agency, the Department of Labor. It says: “For federal contractors and subcontractors, affirmative action must be taken...” In this context, affirmative action is not an option, but a necessity. The page goes on to say: “Affirmative actions include training programs, outreach efforts, and other positive steps.” These training programs, although they sound beneficial, ultimately hurt the employer. The “training programs and outreach efforts” do not come cheap, and the cost must be covered by the employer. At this point, the employer could have invested the money spent on affirmative action elsewhere, building their business and being able to hire new workers solely
Sparks 2
based on their skill, not their race. Also, if the employer does choose to reach out to the minorities, white applicants may be looked over for the job, even if they may have been more qualified.
Forcing equality in the workplace can cause unfortunate unintended consequences. Organizations can feel pressured to have a minority in their lineup. In the 1990s, local affiliate television networks were specifically identified and pressured, sometimes to the point that they felt they had to hire a token minority broadcast personality, or their ratings might be affected. One such instance is WECT, in Wilmington, North Carolina. On the news team, the co-anchor was