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Affirmative Action, A Social Issue Essay

3091 words - 13 pages

Affirmative Action, A Social Issue

The black rights and women’s rights movements of the 1960’s fought against injustice and discrimination that had been suffered by minorities for years (Hudson). In response, President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925 in 1961, creating a Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and mandating that projects financed by federal funding would “take affirmative action” to ensure that hiring and employment practices were free of racial bias (Hudson). Two more executive orders in 1965 and 1968 prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, and gender, giving the federal government the power to enforce this prohibition (Hudson). ...view middle of the document...

70% of blacks and 63% of Hispanics support affirmative action, while only 44% of the total U.S. population does (Gallup 2003). Democrats support affirmative action, since they enjoy a large population of minority voters who desire to maintain affirmative action programs (Plous 2). Republicans also support affirmative action, in hopes of luring these voting demographics to their side (Plous 2). Many of these minorities believe that not enough time has passed since slavery and past wrongs suffered, and that affirmative action is still necessary in order to allow equal access to opportunities. “Such programs are...intended to compensate for the persistence of past wrongs in the present by desegregating American institutions and altering the opportunity and outcome structures in American society,” (Hudson). On the other hand, opponents of affirmative action believe that enough time has passed since the civil rights movement to justify abolishing racial preferences. However, until women and other minorities are granted the same opportunities as white males to achieve educational and economic successes, we believe that affirmative action programs must be maintained and improved.

RACIAL INEQUALITY IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

Sixty-five percent of Americans oppose race as a factor in admissions decisions to public universities (NBC/WSJ Poll 2003). Those that do not support affirmative action believe that it is “reverse discrimination”, claiming that a white applicant with higher SAT’s and a higher G.P.A., who is rejected in favor of a minority applicant with lower scores, is being discriminated against (“Supreme Court”). Project 21, a minority group against affirmative action, believes that it undermines a minority person’s success (“Supreme”). They claim that well-qualified black students are assumed to have been accepted to prestigious schools because of affirmative action and not their own merits (“Supreme”). Furthermore, studies show that affirmative action harms Historically Black Colleges and Universities and produces a low minority retention rate (Turner). Only 18% of blacks attending college now attend HBCU’s, so 12 have been forced to close in the last 26 years (Turner). Turner claims that affirmative action programs that recruit black students contribute to “the significant number of black students dropping and failing out of colleges that they are unprepared to academically complete (Turner).” The retention rate among minorities is unsettling: while 59% of whites graduate within six years of enrolling in college, only 38% of blacks and 46% of Hispanics do the same (Smith 48).

However, affirmative action is not the cause of the low retention rate among minorities: in reality, these minority students are unprepared to attend college because their lower education was inadequate (Turner). A Harvard study’s findings found that minorities were three times more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods characterized by single-parent homes,...

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