Why is Affirmative Action Necessary?

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Julius Caesar Watts Jr. an American politician from Oklahoma who was a college football quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners and later played professionally in the CFL said, “Affirmative action is a little like the professional football draft. The NFL awards its No. 1 draft choices to the lowest-ranked team in the league. It does not do this out of compassion or guilt. Its done for mutual survival. They understand that a league can only be as strong as its weakest team.” Mutual survival meaning  not only does affirmative action benefit those less fortunate but it also is an advantage to society as a whole. Affirmative action is necessary today because it simply levels the playing field, achievement gap exists, the diversity on campus is beneficiary, and diversity in the workforce leads to positive outcomes.

  Affirmative action  is a policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education. Affirmative action in colleges is a very debatable topic because some believe that colleges should just focus on the grades, but different groups of students get different opportunities so just focusing on grades is clearly unfair. The term, affirmative action, was first brought to the forefront of american politics by John F Kennedy in 1961, during the civil rights movement,  to level the playing field for minorities. It is not in way to force colleges to just accept someone solely because they are people of color; it is in place so that those that are less privileged have the same opportunity.

 Level playing field is basically a idea about fairness. Nikitra Bailey an executive vice president at the Center for Responsible Lending stated, “Enslaved Africans built America for free. They provided America its greatest economic foundation, yet were denied access to any of the fruits of their hard work. Others benefited financially from their toil to create security for themselves and their future generations” (Bailey). Slavery is a sensitive topic, but it is also a very important topic; it is the reason for the racial and social inequalities that we face today. Although it happened in the 17th and 18th centuries the effects of it still run deep in this nation. The ones that built this nation to be the so called ‘#1 Nation in the World’ still struggle to get the benefits they deserve while the majority created security for their future generations. It is interesting how the same people that say slavery was so long ago, and we should just let it go are the ones that are still benefiting from it. It may not be directly, but having a light/pale skin complexion gave them the key to success. Affirmative action is a way to help those who did not get that key handed to them, it’s a small step towards redemption for this nation.

Leveling the playing field is not only fair to people of color, it also benefits females. In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson extended the policy to all employees nationwide and it  included sex and religion( Bowen). Affirmative action gives everyone that was considered below the white man in the past a chance to thrive independently, especially white woman. Columbia University law professor Kimberl© Crenshaw explained in her 2006 essay  Framing Affirmative Action,“The primary beneficiaries of affirmative action have been Euro-American women.”(Leveling the playing field is beneficial to everyone in society. Being born a white man is a privilege it is not earned, but would it not be better to enter a race with everyone at the start line, instead of being hundreds of years ahead. At the end of the day a cheater is a cheater, but if you could do something about it, would it not be better for everyone to have a fair chance at succeeding which is why making it equal for the disadvantaged people of society is very beneficial for all. Plus it’s also our duty as humans to make the race as fair as possible.Minorities were behind for to many years that it created an achievement gap, it is about time affirmative action closes this gap and gives everyone a fair chance at this race we call life. 

“Achievement gaps occur when one group of students outperforms another group and the difference in average scores for the two groups is statistically significant ” (NAEP). National Assessment of Educational Progress is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what U.S. students know and can do in various subjects. NAEP results show that a huge gap separates blacks and hispanics students from the white students (NAEP). Educational outcomes for minority children is because of their unequal access to key educational resources, like skilled teachers and quality curriculum. The U.S. educational system is one of the most unequal in the modern world, and students receive extremely different learning opportunities based on their racial background.Gary Howard states , “Whether the measure is grades, test scores, attendance, discipline referrals, drop-out or graduation rates, those students who differ most from mainstream White, middle/upper class, English speaking America, are also most vulnerable to being mis-served by our nation’s schools”(Howard). Howard has over 40 years of experience working with issues like civil rights, social justice, education, and diversity. Most of the lower class is associated with people of color, which means places that are referred to as the ‘ghetto’ are most likely to be at a disadvantage when it comes to education. This gap in educational attainment has  negative impacts on society, thus more reasons on why affirmative action is necessary today. .

 Achievement gap isn't just about the racial differences it's also because of the major difference in social classes or socioeconomics.. According to an article written by Linda Darling Hammond, a Professor of Education Emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Education,“The wealthiest 10 percent of U.S. school districts spend nearly 10 times more than the poorest 10 percent.” Despite the obvious differences people currently view this as the students fault for not achieving, which is absolutely ridiculous. Statistics don't lie and this one clearly shows that social class divides students into ‘who is worth learning more knowledge?’ The more money you have the more chances of you gaining different learning opportunities. More private tutors, better schools, and advanced classes which puts you at a higher chance of getting into a more elite university. Another article written by  Kristen Thorson, a teacher and an interventionist states that ”Children enter school with the set of experiences their families have been able to provide, but there is a tremendous variation in the types and quality of those experiences.” Those experiences are tied with class, because someone from a rich family will most likely learn a lot before even entering school, unlike someone from a poor background. Plus the experiences that they learn are worlds apart, while one maybe getting motivation from their parents to focus on education and go to college, another could be pressured to find a job and provide for their family. Affirmative action is the only way to eliminate that gap and ensure that all americans have the ability to achieve their goals. An addition to that, affirmative action also provides a more diverse college campus.

Affirmative action is necessary today because the diversity on campuses benefits all students.Martin Luther king once said,“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”Opening the mind to new ideas and concepts and people is how we as  humans can advance into a better world.   Diversity enriches the educational experience. A diverse teaching faculty, as well as a diverse student body, will give students a chance to interact with a variety of different people and improve their communications and thought processing skills. Engaging with diverse groups of individuals expands students circle of contacts, enhancing it with people of different experiences who have their own circle of contacts. As a result of the interaction students learn from each other, the students will sharpen their socialization skills and their knowledge of issues outside of their comfort zone.

Our nation is changing, and our higher education institutions need to consider this diversity using affirmative action. According to center for american progress by the year 2050 our nation will have no clear racial or ethnic majority. 2050 isn't that far away it is only 31 years from now, Communities of color are tomorrow’s leaders, and we need to better prepare our future workforce.Campus life is an eye-opener for many students, it is the first taste of freedom and an unfiltered view of the real world. Diversity on college campuses strengthens creativity and lays the groundwork for global engagement as students transition to their chosen careers.The more diversity the colleges the more likely we are to have a diverse workforce which is an advantage to this nation.

Affirmative action is necessary because diversity in the workforce leads to rise in innovations.In a Forbes survey, 85 percent of respondents said diversity is crucial for their businesses, diversity in the workforce fosters innovations and competitions between businesses. Diversity in the workforce is crucial because the more diverse it is the more of an advantage that company or business has. More than 60 leading 500 Fortune companies (including Coca-Cola) came out in support of race-based admission policies in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Grutter v. Bollinger ruling. People differentiate by experiences and cultures, which is one of the many reasons so many companies appreciate diversity. Diversity brings in different talents together, all of them contributing towards a common goal using different sets of skills.

More specifically cultural diversity in the workforce can  increase profit for organizations. A survey taken in 2013 by think tank, Center for Talent Innovation, found that 48% of companies in the US with more diversity at senior management level improved their market share the previous year. A company that has people from all over is more likely to succeed because they have connections to multiple groups of people. Another benefit to cultural diversity is the increase of creativity in employees, and the ability to have multiple solutions to a particular problem. According to an article written by Tendayi Viki the author of The Corporate Startup and The Lean Product Lifecycle, “Research on creativity and innovation has been consistent in showing the value of exposing individuals to experiences with multiple perspectives and worldviews. It is the combination of these various perspectives in novel ways that result in new ideas "popping up." With so many different and diverse minds coming and working together, many more solutions will arise as every individual brings in their personal way of thinking, operating and solving problems and making decision.

The argument most people use against affirmative action is “reverse discrimination”. The book definition of Reverse Discrimination is the practice or policy of favoring individuals belonging to groups known to have been discriminated against previously.The use of  “reverse discrimination” arose in direct response to affirmative and race-based policies in the 1970s. The argument is that affirmative action causes reverse discrimination especially on white males. This argument came up to the supreme court multiple times by white students who felt discriminated against solely because they are not at a “disadvantage” or “people of color”. For example  In 2008, Abigail Fisher, a white female, sued the University of Texas at Austin for race discrimination; she explained that students in her class with lower grades and lees extracurricular activities got accepted to the university and the only difference was the skin color.  Roger Clegg stated,”I simply think it's unfair to treat people differently because of skin colour and as a lawyer, I think that it's not consistent with the way our laws read...I think the only legal approach that can possibly work is one that treats everybody the same regardless of their skin colour or what country their ancestors are from.” Roger Clegg attended yale law school, and is the president and general counsel of the center for equal opportunity.

Although the argument against affirmative action is valid, and the Abigail Fisher case did make a good point about the 5 students who got provisional admission, and where black or latino with lower test scores and grades then her. The Fisher case  failed to inform people of the 168 people of color with the same grades as abigail who were also denied entry, or the 42 white students who also got  provisional admission and had lower test scores and grades. Plus Roger Clegg’s idea of a better system that treats everyone the same is well condescending, race based affirmative action is just as or more needed then income based affirmative action. His ‘plan’ defeats the purpose of affirmative action which is to help those with a disadvantage, giving a helping hand to both the disadvantage and the advantaged will not set equality it will literally be the exact same situation in repeat. How can you treat everyone the same if everyone has not had the same opportunities in the past? Treating everyone the same well get us nowhere as a society. Which further proves the point that affirmative action is extremely needed  today, all in all it’s clear that my argument is stronger than those who oppose it.

Thus, affirmative action is necessary today because it levels the playing field, achievement gap exists, the diversity on campus is beneficiary, and diversity in the workforce leads to positive outcomes. In summary, affirmative action is  a very controversial matter; some think it’s not necessary today and it causes reverse discrimination, others say it was put there for a reason and that reason still applies today. Whatever you believe, just remember which side of history do you want to be on? The one that recognized the past and tried to fix it, or the ones that ignored it and tried to move on.

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Why Is Affirmative Action Necessary?. (2019, Dec 18). Retrieved March 2, 2024 , from

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