Affirmative Action In California: Has It Outlived Its Purpose?
In the past, most California public agencies believed that affirmative action was an effective tool in the fight to correct discrimination. The main intent of affirmative action was to protect women, minorities and handicap individuals from discrimination (Hill, 1998,1). Affirmative action has been used in areas such as public employment, education and contracts. But today, some public agencies are questioning the meaning of affirmative action. The opponents of affirmative action believe that it encourages preferential hiring practices and reverse discrimination. They have also taken a strong stance towards the elimination of affirmative action through the California Civil Rights Initiative – Proposition 209 (http://www.ca.gov.). The supporters of affirmative action, however, still maintain that it is needed to prevent artificial barriers in the treatment of workers and hiring and admission practices (http://www.co.la.ca.us.). Even though Proposition 209 was passed by California voters, this has not discouraged professional organizations such as Americans United for Affirmative Action (http://www.auaa.org) and the American Association for Affirmative Action (http://www.affirmativeaction.org) who are still committed to educating the public on the importance of affirmative action.
The concept of affirmative action has always been and continues to be a very controversial topic. This paper will focus on the positive and negative viewpoints of affirmative action as well as the future of its existence.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: ORIGIN AND MEANING.
The existence of discriminatory behavior against minorities was the leading force in the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and so on, by private as well as public employers (Goldman,1977,193). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave birth to a new program, which regulated the granting of federal contracts. This program was entitled Affirmative action. Today affirmative action has become a device to prevent discrimination against minorities and women in the workplace and educational institutions. Affirmative action is responsible for the following:
Enhancing the efforts in recruiting minority, women and handicap applicants. Employers must specify the acceptance of these applicants in job announcements and newspaper advertisements.
The creation of goals and timetables for actually hiring and promoting minorities and women in positions where they are underrepresented. This ensures that employers are acting in good faith in the prevention of discrimination.
Assisting in the granting of public contracts to business owned by minorities, women and disadvantaged individuals. This allows equal access and participation in the awarding of billions of dollars in government contracts.
Enabling underrepresented groups to participate equally in the education process...