Analysis of the arguments for and against Affirmative Action (Issue #10, Stanley Feingold, George McKenna, "Taking Sides" 13th ed.)

Essay by pantherjadUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, February 2004

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Issue #10, Affirmative Action

For nearly a century in our country's history white plantation owners used the slave labor of black Africans, treating these people more like animals or property than like human beings. After the abolition of this practice, blacks continued to be treated like second-rate citizens. Falling victim to racial discrimination, they were denied equal opportunities readily available to their white counterparts. Today we face problems due to this discrimination and it's effects on the black community. One solution to the problem of past discrimination and racial inequality has been to take "Affirmative Action" with regard to minority races in America, enforcing certain levels of opportunity mandated for minority groups, most notably black African Americans. McKenna and Feingold's "Taking Sides" dedicates a section to this debate of whether or not affirmative action advances racial equality. Two individuals, Ms. Berry and Ms. Chavez, take differing sides.

Ms. Berry contends that due to such a disadvantaged past blacks need affirmative action. Ms. Chavez claims racial preferences like affirmative action are merely superficial and erode real minority success.

"We need 'affirmative action' because minorities have suffered so much 'negative action' throughout American history," states Ms. Berry. Perhaps her first and overriding argument in favor of affirmative action is the history of discrimination in America. She cites the prevalence of economic injustice, unequal employment opportunities, and little access to higher education for blacks in the first half of the century. To support this concept she gives examples of this trend in differing industries and schools. She shows how black participation waned in comparison to whites disproportionate to population demographics. She then goes on to show how in the wake of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Congress and the courts have upheld policies to eradicate discrimination and even institute affirmative...