Affirmative Action - We Should Not Forget America's Racist Past

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Affirmative Action - We Should Not Forget America's Racist Past

Affirmative Action has become of the most controversial social policy issues to be discussed in recent years. It is controversial because it challenges fundamental American beliefs. As Seymour Martin Lipset put it: "Affirmative Action policies have forced a sharp confrontation between two core American values: equality and individualism."(Dudley7) This values oriented approach, which pervades popular discussion and derives from functionalist sociology, fails to explain why similar challenges to our core values did not in the past result in the kind of spite surrounding Affirmative Action today. As the popular lore and written history of urban politics in America demonstrate and as minority leaders today frequently point out, benefits were routinely distributed to individuals not on merit, but on racial criteria (Sigelman7).

The Federal, state, and local governments run currently many programs intended to increase opportunities for various groups including women, and minority groups. These programs are commonly called ''affirmative action" programs. For example; state law identifies specific goals for the participation of women, and minority-owned companies on work involved with state contracts. State departments are expected, but not required, to meet these goals, which include that at least minority-owned companies should do 15 percent of the value of contract work, and at least 5 percent should be done by women-owned companies. The law requires departments, however, to reject bids from companies that have not made sufficient ''good faith efforts" to meet these goals. Other examples of affirmative action programs include: Public college and university programs such as scholarship, tutoring, and outreach that are targeted toward minority or women students. Goals and timetables to encourage the hiring of members of ''underrepresented" groups for state government jobs. State and local programs required by the federal government as a condition of receiving federal funds such as requirements for minority-owned business participation in state highway construction projects funded in part with federal money.

The federal government in President Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925 first used the term. The directive ordered contractors to “take affirmative action to insure that applicants were emp...

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... now undeserving under qualified blacks are being employed and admitted, and that is not fair to the logically more qualified white male (Fine7).

No one wants to be treated unfairly, but by getting rid of Affirmative Action employers and schools will not be obligated to admit, and hire African Americans. Weather people want to admit it or not there is still a racial problem in this country. There has only been a generation of equal treatment, and only through the blood, sweat, ranting, and deaths of others has this happened. These laws of affirmative action were put into place because of inequality. Let not the work of those past go in vain.


Brune, Tom and Lynne K. Varner,“The Future of Affirmative Action: What Do Whites

Want? Civil” Seattle Times (Seattle, WA) 1999

Dudley, William. Ed. Opposing View Points in Social Issues. Greenhaven Press, Inc., 2000.

Fine, Terri Susan. "Race and Political Culture: Blacks, Whites and Commitment to

Individualism,” SOUTHEASTERN POLITICAL REVIEW; Vol. 19, No. 1, 23-36.

Sigelman, Lee, and Susan Welch. BLACK AMERICANS' VIEWS OF RACIAL

INEQUALITY: THE DREAM DEFERRED. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
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