Affirmative action is defined by Webster’s dictionary as a policy

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Affirmative action is defined by Webster's dictionary as a policy or a program that seeks to redress past discrimination through active measures to ensure equal opportunity, as in education and employment. In many eyes though, affirmative action in its meaning is completely hypocritical. Instead of benefiting the depletion of racism, it encourages it. One person who believes that affirmative action should be thrown out is Armstrong Williams. Williams argues that, "Making judgments based on race is racism" even though judgments from the highest power in the country, the Supreme Court, have ruled in favor of affirmative action. The most famous Supreme Court decision was the1978 Bakke trial where the Supreme Court concluded that universities could take race into account as a factor in student admissions for the purpose of achieving student body diversity. We must ask ourselves though if affirmative action presents the idea of equality for all or the idea of separate but equal.

If separate but equal is the case, then all we are doing is dividing the races more than they already are, causing the reserve affect affirmative action is intended to provide. If, after 25 years, affirmative action has not succeeded in ending discrimination, perhaps it is time to try something else.

Affirmative action was originally envisioned as a means to redress discrimination, racial preferences have instead promoted it. And rather than promoting unity and integration, preferences have divided the campus as well as the workplace. In no other area of public life is there a greater disparity between the rhetoric of preferences and the reality. "…The claim that racial preferences help the "disadvantaged" when in reality, preferences primarily benefit minority applicants from middle- and upper-class backgrounds. At the same time, because admissions are a zero-sum game, preferences hurt poor whites and even many Asians (who meet admissions standards in disproportionate numbers)." (David Sacks & Peter Thiel) If preferences were truly meant to remedy disadvantage, they would be given on the basis of disadvantage, not on the basis of race.

On the opposition is well renowned activist Jesse Jackson. Jackson believes that affirmative action benefits everyone, supporting his belief with the following statement, "The unbroken record of race and gender discrimination warranted the legal remedy of affirmative action. When we consider what true reparations for past discrimination entail, merely equalizing the laws of competition by leveling the playing field is indeed a conservative form of redress." A major theory in Jackson's paper, is that African Americans are owed something due the injustices they have faced in the past. Jackson writes about trials that were on the topic of slavery and segregation, such as the 1857 Dredd Scott decision, the 1896 Plessy versus Ferguson decision as well as the 1954 Brown versus the board of education effort. Jackson makes affirmative action sound like an issue related to the past. Previously quoted Armstrong Williams, however, even though inherently disagreeing with racism and the hardships African Americans faced during slavery, states, "no amount of either retribution or special assistance will eradicate those injustices. They are indelibly etched in American past, the question remains: will they be a part of our future?" What Williams is inferring by this statement is that African Americans should have proper redress for grievances, but that we need to stop living in the past and look towards the future.

A major issue is the question on whether or not affirmative action completes its purpose. Some insist that affirmative action is necessary to provide blacks and other minorities the same opportunities as everyone else and that affirmative action is an overdue redress to past discriminations including slavery. On the other hand, many feel that affirmative action is an ethically objectionable course of action that is failing to accomplish its intention. Williams describes affirmative action as followed," a morally abhorrent policy that is utterly failing to achieve its objective." Williams feels that affirmative action was once with good intentions, but is nevertheless causing repercussions that affirmative action is intended to solve. Title seven of the 1964 civil rights legislation act prohibited discrimination in schools or business's on the basis of race, color, religious origin or sex. Differences from the civil rights legislation act of 1964 and affirmative action is that quotas based on color conscious head counts are introduced into affirmative action, causing reverse discrimination. Jesse Jackson strongly disagrees on the issue of reverse discrimination as well as the issue on whether or not quotas are actually part of affirmative action. Jackson states the following on his behalf; "affirmative action is not quotas or preferential treatment of the unqualified over the qualified." However, Jackson somewhat contradicts this statement by later saying that quotas are not required "unless a court imposes them." Jackson later states, "quotas are used only as a last resort to remedy a manifest imbalance or to compensate for a widespread and persistent pattern of discrimination." If this statement proved correct, it seems to be that minorities are in fact given preferential treatment just because of quotas, causing the reverse discrimination effect.

Williams strongly opposes discrimination and actually insists upon some accomplishments relative to those included in affirmative action. Williams supports actions that would address the problem of racism and discrimination and not embrace the ideas of reverse discrimination. Williams agrees with Title seven of the 1964 civil rights legislation act prohibited discrimination in schools or business's on the basis of race, color, religious origin or sex. Differences from the civil rights legislation act of 1964 and affirmative action is that quotas based on color conscious head counts are introduced into affirmative action, causing reverse discrimination. Jesse Jackson strongly disagrees on the issue of reverse discrimination as well as the issue on whether or not quotas are actually part of affirmative action. Jackson states the following on his behalf; "affirmative action is not quotas or preferential treatment of the unqualified over the qualified." However, Jackson somewhat contradicts this statement by later saying that quotas are not required "unless a court imposes them." Jackson later states, "quotas are used only as a last resort to remedy a manifest imbalance or to compensate for a widespread and persistent pattern of discrimination." If this statement proved correct, it seems to be that minorities are in fact given preferential treatment just because of quotas, causing the reverse discrimination effect.

WORKS CITED -Jackson, Jesse. Affirmative action, it benefits everyone. May 23, 1999. Processed March 24, 2002. www.now.org/issues/affirm/ -Williams, Armstrong. Affirmative Action: Lets Get Rid of it. April 4, 2001, Processed March 29, 2002. http://www.townhall.com/columnists/Armstrongwilliams/aw20010404.shtml -Sacks, David & Thiel, Peter. The Case Against Affirmative Action. July 26, 2001. Processed April 2, 2002. Stanford Magazine. http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/1996/sepoct/articles/against.html -Froomkin, Dan. Affirmative Action Under Attack. October, 1998. Processed April 3, 2002. WashingtonPost.com. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpsrv/politics/special/affirm/affirm.htm