Should Affirmative Action Programs Be Abolished?


ShouldAffirmative Action Programs Be Abolished?

AffirmativeAction is adding to the racial opposition in the United States (US)because employment and college entrances are no longer determined onwork capability or merit based, but on filling a quota. Affirmativeaction programs are established with the effort of making certainthat every group in a certain society has equal opportunity to besuccessful. Originally invented by President John F. Kennedy, thenotion affirmative action implies taking active steps in order torepresent minority groups, offer equal entrances in colleges, andemploy them in business, organizations, and government (Debate.orgpar 1). Critics have argued that admission to colleges hiringdecisions, public health policies, as well as other fields havegreatly been impacted by the nation’s dedication to affirmativeaction.

Affirmativeaction policy is introduced in a country after evaluating its past.Those supporting the policy argue that it is significant in societiesexperiencing discrimination or which withhold economic opportunitieson the basis of race or country of origin. Therefore, it is deemed sa compensatory measure to the minority groups. Countries havedifferent views regarding affirmative action. Some do not take partin affirmative action due to the existent of “color-blind”regulations which require them to treat people the same regardless oftheir race ( par 3). On the other hand, some countriespractice reverse discrimination that entails favoring individuals whowere formerly oppressed. They do this with the aim of restoring totalparity in the long-term. In the US, affirmative action is put intopractice by adopting quotas both in employment and college admission.A specific number of entrances in employment or educationinstitutions are kept aside for groups of persons who were formerlydiscriminated or under-represented. Affirmative action is extensivelypracticed in the US, but has received equal measure of criticism. Thedebate concerning affirmative action is heated. A number of Americanssupports the policy when it favors women in employment, but a goodnumber oppose it when it focuses on ethnically based programs. Therest of the paper offers evidence to support the thesis statementwhich states that affirmative action has added up to the racialopposition in the US due to the existent of hiring and admissionquotas rather than considering merit.

Evidenceto Support the Thesis

Opponentsof affirmative action put forth that choosing individuals on thebasis of their origin or ethnicity undervalues their trueachievement. This undervaluation does not only hurt those persons whoare favored but also hurts the broader racial or ethnic group.Critics also argue that affirmative action is a kind of reversediscrimination which makes societies know of the existing barriersdividing them, and this only amplifies bitterness and alienationbetween racially different groups. Asput forth by Messerli (par. 3) affirmative action results in reversediscrimination. Its main aim it to stop unfair treatment anddiscrimination amongst students as well as employees on the basis ofcolor. However, it has been found that it does the contrary. A numberof minorities are in the upper or middle class, while most whites arepoverty stricken. While the latter work hard in order to achieve thebest, they are passed by members of the minority groups who fail toput in the effort required. Asa result, rather than lessening, it contributes towards boostingracial tension. Individuals of a specific group may also beencouraged to pretend to be disadvantaged in order to be favored asfar as employment or college entrance is concerned. Ethnically basedhiring or college admission policies promote people not to do theirbest. The advantaged believe that even if they do their best, theycannot be employed. On the other hand, the disadvantaged deem thateven if they perform poorly they will be employed or admitted tocollege.

Accordingto Clint Bolick, the director of the Goldwater Institute, when theminority groups flunk examinations, this is not termed asdiscrimination as compared to the terrible educational environment towhich the majority of economically underprivileged minority studentsare exposed to (ACLU). As a result, affirmative action programs whichfavor members of a minority group who are less qualified overnon-minority groups who are more qualified provide a cover to suchgeneral issues. Bolick ends by concluding that those programs amplifydeceit upon the underprivileged groups to which they are establishedto assist.

Asput forth by Hanson (par. 13) the measure which regulates thecontinuing unfair treatment is not clear. He compares aEuropean-Argentinean émigré carrying a Hispanic name with a BosnianMuslim expatriate and questions who among the two is more eligiblefor affirmative action. Initially, affirmative action was meant tofavor minorities who had been discriminated in the past. However, itwas on no account anticipated to apply to persons arriving in the USwith no evidence of past prejudice in the country. Americaexperiences a wide array of émigré from various countries includingOaxaca, South Korea and Punjab among others. All these are qualifiedfor affirmative action considering that they had experienceddiscrimination in the past. The question here is who among theseimmigrants is more eligible for the policy and what basis is used tomeasure the level of adversity they experienced? Is their adversitymore convincing as compared to the many poor Americans of differentethnicity? Certainly, there lacks reliability while applyingaffirmative action policy (Hanson par 16).

Researchconcerning affirmative action policy has generated mixed outcomes.According to some studies, minority groups which include Hispanic andblacks and who get a chance to join highly selective learninginstitutions get access to employment networks which initially theycould not have otherwise (The Week Staff par 5). A Rutgers studycarried out in 1995 showed that racial preferences resulted in fivemillion minorities obtaining better employment. On the other hand,opponents of affirmative action have argued that the policy hasresulted in “mismatches” whereby members of minority groups haveobtained access to selective education institutions and they are notqualified nor prepared fro them. A study carried out in 2005 by a lawprofessor in UCLA showed that 34% of blacks who got access to elitelaw schools never passed the bar exam, as matched up with 21% who gotaccess to less elite law schools. This according to Justice ClarenceThomas, as Supreme Court judge, is a destruction of most students whoare pushed past their ability (The Week Staff par 5).

Mr.Graglia, the chair at UT-Austin law school asserts that it is not agood idea to lower standards in order to admit individuals of apreferred group (The Economist par. 2). Educational institutions canmake certain there is diversity without adopting affirmative action.In 1996, a Texas court banned admission based on ethnicity. Theaction saw public universities admitting students on the basis oftheir academic qualifications. Those who were eligible were the topten percent students who had passed their high school exams. Anevaluation carried out in 2004 showed that the percentage of theminority groups admitted in the universities was the same orsurpassed the share prior to the ban. This can be linked withappalling residential segregation of America (The Economist par 20).In general, it is argued that one kind of discrimination cannot beused to justify another injustice. That is, affirmative actionpolicy, which is believed by critics to be a form of discrimination,cannot be used to excuse or compensate the injustices that existed inthe past.

Accordingto Frezza (par. 6) affirmative action policy was initially atemporary measure that turned out to be a lasting entitlementbenefiting even members of the minority groups who come from affluentsettings over poor white children. The period of reversediscrimination which has entered its sixth decade has becomedifficult to bring to an end. As Martin Luther said, not by color butby character will the children be judged (Frezza par 2). Race isconsidered to be a social construct. The biologic and genetic factorsthat united all individuals offset cosmetic factors such as the colorof the skin and hair texture. What factors does the policy use todetermine the eligible persons? Does an individual who have aminority grandparent or great grand parent considered a minority?Saving affirmative action does not necessitate such terms as anoctoroon or quadroon.

Affirmativeaction also degrades true achievement of the minority (Messerli par8). This implies that when a member of the minority group becomessuccessful, such success believed to be lead by affirmative actioninstead of capability or hard work. People such as Oprah Winfrey,Condi Rice and Barack Obama worked hard in order to be what they aretoday. It is not affirmative action which made them that. In the sameway, minority business leaders, doctors, or lawyers have obtainedtheir achievements through hard work but not preferential treatment(Leonhardt par19). Many people demean their achievements arguing itis because of affirmative action. This implies that members of theminority groups need to work extremely hard in order to earn respect.


Inconclusion, affirmative Action is adding to the racial opposition inthe United States (US) because employment and college entrances areno longer determined on work capability or merit based, but onfilling a quota. As discussed in the essay, this is true based onvarious reasons. Fro instance, affirmative action results in reversediscrimination. Its main aim it to stop unfair treatment anddiscrimination amongst students as well as employees on the basis ofcolor. However, its impact has been contrary. Choosingindividuals on the basis of their origin or ethnicity undervaluestheir true achievement. This undervaluation does not only hurt thosepersons who are favored but also hurts the broader racial or ethnicgroup. Ethnically based hiring or college admission policies promotepeople not to do their best. The advantaged believe that even if theydo their best, they cannot be employed. On the other hand, thedisadvantaged deem that even if they perform poorly they will beemployed or admitted to college.


ACLU(2009). Does the US Need Affirmative Action? Retrieved from History and Debate of Affirmative Action. Retrieved from

FrezzaBill. To Finally Abolish Affirmative Action, All Americans ShouldCheck The Minority Box. 2012. Retrieved from

Hanson,Victor Davis. The end of affirmative action. 2014. Retrieved from–tms–vdhansonctnvh-a20140501-20140501_1_affirmative-action-college-admissions-california-system

LeonhardtDavid, Rethinking Affirmative Action. The New York Times. 2012. Retrieved from

MesserliJoe. Should affirmative action policies, which give preferentialtreatment based on minority status, be eliminated? 2012. Retrievedfrom

TheEconomist. Affirmative action: unequal protection. 2013. Retrievedfrom

TheWeek Staff. The origins of affirmative action. 2013. Retrieved from