Affirmative Action v. Reverse Discrimination Essay

This essay has a total of 1035 words and 6 pages.

Affirmative Action v. Reverse Discrimination

Affirmative action in the U.S. started to come about in the early nineteen sixties. It was
enacted along with many other anti-segregation laws, as part of the "Civil Rights act of
1964 and an executive order in 1965 (Affirmative, Encyclopedia Britannica par. 2)." Today
affirmative action is still going strong. It has many positive aspects, but it also has
several negative affects, one of which is "reverse discrimination.

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines affirmative action as "an active effort to improve
the employment or education opportunities of members of minority groups and women." Some
of the other areas of emphasis are age, religion, and ethnic origin. I feel the same as
the authors of the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, when they said these laws
were brought about because,

In the judgment of a good many Americans, equality qua equality, even when conscientiously
enforced with an even hand, would neither suffice to enable those previously deprived on
racial grounds to realize the promises of equality of opportunity, nor would it atone, and
provide redress, for the ravages wrought by two centuries of past discrimination.
Consequently… programs were established… to go well beyond "mere" equality of
opportunity and provide not only remedial but preferential compensatory action, especially
in the worlds of EDUCATION and employment (Affirmative, Encyclopedia American 34).

However, even as early as 1978 the Supreme Court has made it a point to not support laws
that provide for "reverse discrimination," which Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines
as "discrimination against whites or males as in employment or education." The Supreme
Court stated that this isn't acceptable when it decided "reverse discrimination" is not
acceptable legally or constitutionally (Affirmative, Encyclopedia American 35). I think
what they mean by this is that, even though affirmative action is necessary, it should not
be so harsh as to make it so the "majority" is then discriminated against in return,
because then it is just reversing the discrimination, hence the term "reverse
discrimination." There have been many court cases that support each side of this issue.

There were some major Supreme Court cases that led up to affirmative action. One of which
was Plessy v. Ferguson 1896 in which it was deemed that the constitution meant politically
equal not socially equal, which was held up until Brown v. Board of Education Topeka
Kansas 1954. Brown v. The Board was a huge stepping stone towards affirmative action,
because it started the processes of desegregation.

As soon as affirmative action took hold into America, it became the next battleground.
Just ten years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 there was a Supreme Court case against
affirmative action. It was DeFunis v. Odegaard. According to the Encyclopedia of The
American Constitution, it "dealt with preferential racial admissions quotas that by design
advantaged nonwhite applicants and thereby ipso facto disadvantaged whites" (Affirmative,
Encyclopedia American 34). Throughout the next 15 years or so, everything went on pretty
much as it had been after the ruling in the DeFunis v. Odegaard case, which was ruled
moot, because no matter what the ruling, DeFunis would be graduated from the University of
Washington Law School (Affirmative, Encyclopedia American 34). Since these rulings there
have been many more cases having to do with pro-affirmative action and anti-affirmative
action views.

Affirmative action has helped minorities, especially blacks, when entering school. Shelton
showed this when she said,"In 1955, only 4.9 percent of college students ages 18-24 were
African American. This figure rose to 6.5 percent during the next five years but by 1965
had slumped back to 4.9 percent. Only in the wake of affirmative action measures in the
late 1960s and early ‘70s did the percentage of black college students begin to climb
steadily: In 1970, 7.8 percent of college students were African American, in 1980, 9.1
percent and in 1990, 11.3 percent" (Shelton, par. 13).

I would assume, being I was unable to find any evidence on the subject, that those figures
continued to rise through the 1990s and should keep going up, spare anything drastic,
through the next century.

Affirmative action has also hurt many of the majority, and it can do so very easily. Clegg
showed this in his essay Affirmative Action: It's Counterproductive. He shows this when he
states, "Only ‘qualified' applicants are given preferences. The issue is not whether the
winning applicant is in some absolute sense ‘qualified.' If you use race (or sex) to
select a less qualified applicant… your discriminating" (Clegg, par 8). In other words
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