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Affirmative Action is still relevant in today's society

Published: Thursday, February 23, 2006

Updated: Saturday, October 10, 2009 10:10

Recently, a Georgia State professor asked a class their opinions about Affirmative Action.  At the time, many in class were unsure of how to approach the topic.  Some students felt intimidated.  Regardless, we must prod deeper on the controversy, and embark on a quest of "a final answer" after musing over Erik McNeal's column on racism (which was very interesting by the way).


According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, affirmative action is "an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women."  The term has origins in the early '60s, during Kennedy's presidency.  The  administration began to form goals aiming towards a racially diverse labor environment.  The precedents set forth carried over into the 21st Century, creating a rise in controversy and criticism on the subject.


Supporters of affirmative action see it as an economic necessity.  In their opinion, racism in the United States is slow-moving towards becoming malleable; thus, additional action is needed to rectify biases and injustices in America.  There were instances where skin color played a large factor.  Examples include; one doing group assignments independently, or keeping count of office supplies on the desk to avoid the "black people are slackers" and "black people are thieves to the third power" stereotypes.  In other situations, one would be tested with a few other "talented tenth" individuals in order to gain additional program funds for their school. The epitome could be felt by being used by the system for the majority.  


When the phrase "affirmative action" is uttered, many in American society define it as the act of "unqualified Blacks" reaping benefits over "qualified" Whites.  Those opposed to the affirmative action concept further conclude that the whole idea is a form of reverse discrimination and hypocrisy that is benefiting many on the basis of color to satisfy status quos.  Components of William Darity's conceptual framework reveal certain arguments-that because Blacks of today are under assimilation, more so than in previous generations, it is "time to get rid of race-conscious policies and move toward the ideal of a colorblind society.".  Conclusively, Darity argues that because affirmative action goals are often abused; holistically, it just needs time for proper evolution.


Opponents against affirmative action argue that "merit should speak for itself."  Unfortunately, we live in a society where academic and other statistical data are referenced directly back to color.   Now I am proud of my ethnicity, but this is one of the reasons why I leave "race" boxes blank.  Or I would put something smart on the "other" line, like "-able to do the damn job, so what's the big deal?"  And what is up with this "Black/non-Hispanic" option?  I may very well have ancestors from Cuba (and I do), so what, I am not Black now?  If I am not in the mood to consider the implications of such applications, I could have very well checked "Hispanic" as my only defining option-which proves to me that these so-called statistics are really not "all that" to begin with.


In today's society, most lack time and patience it takes to entertain ignorance.  In one's understanding, affirmative action meant diversifying the environment of qualified individuals.  So according to this definition, one should support Affirmative Action.  After all, we're supposed to be striving towards a pluralistic society.  It would be great if affirmative action wasn't needed, but even greater if racism, classism, and all those other "ism" fell into the pit of extinction.  You be the judge. 

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