Affirmative Action: The Real Deal Essay

During the American Revolution Thomas Jefferson and America’s founding fathers struggled for freedom and equality. Years of agonizing battling took place, and finally emancipation was gained and America was formed. As a society we have grown to believe that America equals equality, when in fact it does not. When the declaration of independence was created only white male colonists were created equally. Over 224 years have gone by since our foundation was laid, and unfortunately our original goal has not been reached. Liberty and justice for all is still a utopian idea in the minds of many but not all.

There are three reasons our society has not reached its original goal. First, there are large numbers of people who believe that other races, and or genders are inferior. Secondly there is evidence that shows minorities including African Americans, Hispanics, and immigrants are being discriminated against in the workplace. Finally, Affirmative Action has not received a fair chance because of myths and misconceptions about the program. For the above three reasons I believe Affirmative Action is a necessity in America.

Many Americans are extremely ignorant to the Affirmative Action program. Many feel that Affirmative Action only pertains to Blacks when it reaches so many more. The maintenance of the program is of great importance to our country especially with a new President in soon to be in office. It is of utmost importance that we as a society learn about the program and its benefits so we can prepare for the future, and eventually erase racial and gender issues in every aspect of our country. To have knowledge of why Affirmative Action is needed, one should have a solid definition of the program.

Affirmative Action, as defined by the office of Affirmative Action, equal opportunity, and diversity at the University of Rhode Island is: The written document through which management assures that all persons have equal opportunities in recruitment, selection, appointment, promotion, training, discipline and related employment areas. The plan is tailored to the employer’s work force and the skills available in the labor force. It prescribes specific actions, goals, timetables, and responsibilities and describes resources to meet identified needs.

The plan is a comprehensive results oriented program designed to achieve equal employment opportunity rather than merely to assure nondiscrimination. Affirmative Action is all of the above, but it is not reverse discrimination. Affirmative Action is an outreach program that attempts to recruit minority applicants. It presupposes an undertaking to remedy underutilization of women and minorities through express consideration of race and or gender. (Player 59) Affirmative Action programs are designed to ensure fair criteria for all applicants. Currently, 86% of available jobs are not advertised — they are filled by word-of-mouth.

Since white men still own and manage most US businesses, they tend to know and hire other white male applicants. Affirmative Action creates a level playing field, and some may not receive the advantage they are accustomed too. (Williams 4) There are several misconceptions about Affirmative Action. Many arguers against Affirmative Action say jobs are being given to unqualified people. Many also believe that Affirmative Action is a quota system that places those under-qualified applicants into vacant positions. This is a myth; in reality no Affirmative Action programs require anyone to accept substandard or unqualified applicants.

These programs actually expand the pool of qualified applicants who might otherwise not know about the opening or not be provided an equal opportunity at being accepted. The Affirmative Action program has five major elements that someone utilizing the system must establish before a negative claim can be filed.

1) A plaintiff was in an Affirmative Action protected class

2) Plaintiff applied for the position

3) Defendant had a vacancy in which the applicant applied

4) Plaintiff was qualified

5) Plaintiff was denied the position and the defendant continued to seek applicants.

The fourth element of the process clearly states that an applicant must be qualified. An employer can deny the position to any under-qualified person. With progression in our society Affirmative Action will no longer be needed. In fact, the education system no longer utilizes the Affirmative Action program because of progress. However, a professor an anonymous professor at Emory University said, Without Affirmative Action choosing college for some would never have been an option. Our country is now at a point where we all different types of races at schools. It is with this program that we have made so much progress.

It is with this program that we will continue to make progress, it is without this program those out of the dominant culture will remain out, and our country will regress. Another myth is that some feel Affirmative Action is only a program with intent on helping African Americans. For example Shawn Wright was asked his feelings on Affirmative Action and he said, Blacks have fought the fight, its over. If they want a job they just need to hop their lazy butts up and get one. Affirmative Action is just giving away jobs to the lazy people. Affirmative Action is a program for African Americans and other minorities in the country.

But, what many like Shawn Wright fail to realize is, Affirmative Action is also a plan for women! Women are one of the most highly discriminated against group in the world. Women, not the underprivileged nor the minority, face the highest risks if Affirmative Action is taken away. Last year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, required employers to pay a total of $72 million to plaintiffs in sex-discrimination cases, an amount far greater than those awarded in other classes of suits. Adding together awards for sex and pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment nets $127 million.

These costs are a fraction of the total costs of sex-based affirmative action, but they do give some indication of the relative magnitude of affirmative action costs for different groups. In this evidence from the EEOC, it is shown that women currently are being treated unfairly. Many fail to realize that just forty years ago in America women were not fully considered citizens, and did not have the same rights as men. Now in corporate America evidence of the inferiority of women still shows. A survey by Korn/Ferry International in 1992 asked women if the glass ceiling still existed for women.

Of the 439 surveyed a whopping 93% believed so. 97% of upper management in corporate America is white men. It is very important that people understand that race does not necessarily contribute to every aspect of inequalities. Elderly men and women, of all races are also highly discriminated against in the workplace because of stereotypes about their work ethic. Over the years many Elderly Americans have been forced into early retirement, or not given employment simply because of their age. Elderly qualified workers deserve chances for employment just as anyone else does.

There is sufficient evidence that supports Affirmative Action as an excellent plan to ease inequalities in the workplace. One of the most obvious facts that support Affirmative Action is blatant discrimination as a continuing problem in the labor market. The most convincing evidence comes from “audit” studies, in which white male and minority (male and female) job seekers are given similar resumes and sent to the same set of firms to apply for a job. These studies often find that employers are less likely to interview or offer a job to minority applicants or to female applicants.

In this study the white male would have an equally qualified resume as a minority. The researchers would typically send the minority in to apply for the position first. The minority in every case whether male or female, Asian or Latino, would be sent out with no job. However, when the white male was sent in to apply for the same job, in every case he was chosen regardless of the qualifications. It was obvious that the winning decision was skin color and gender. (Francis 32). In conclusion, my claim is that Affirmative Action is currently needed in America.

If America wants to be a truly equal and diverse country, then Affirmative Action needs to continue. Through facts and evidence it is shown that discrimination, ignorance, and feelings of inferiority are widely spread throughout our country. For the preceding three reasons Affirmative Action is a necessity. Americans have been given rights, and those rights include being created and treated equally. It is the duty of the country to uphold that the rights of every citizen are being upheld. The country would do its citizens, including women, elderly, and minority groups a great disservice if the Affirmative Action program ended.