America And Affirmative Action Essay

1060 words - 4 pages

America and Affirmative ActionAffirmative action has been the subject of increasing debate and tension inAmerican society. However, the debate over affirmative action has become ensnared inrhetoric that pits equality of opportunity against the equality of results. The debate hasbeen more emotional than intellectual, and has generated more tension than shed light onthe issue. Participants in the debate have over examined the ethical and moral issues thataffirmative action raises while forgetting to scrutinize the system that has created theneed for them. Too often, affirmative action is looked upon as the panacea for a nationonce ill with, but now cured of, the virulent disease of racial discrimination. Affirmativeaction is, and should be seen as, a temporary, partial, and perhaps even flawed remedyfor past and continuing discrimination against historically marginalized anddisenfranchised groups in American society. Working as it should, it affords groupsgreater equality of opportunity in a social context marked by substantial inequalities andstructural forces that impede a fair assessment of their capabilities.Perhaps the biggest complaint that one hears about affirmative action policiesaimed at helping Black Americans is that they violate the 14th Amendment of theConstitution and the Civil Rights laws., The claim is that these programs distort what isnow a level playing field and bestow preferential treatment on understanding minoritiesbecause of the color of their skin. While this view seems very logical on the surface,many contend that it lacks any historical support and is aimed more at preservingexisting White privilege than establishing equality of opportunity for all. Any cursorylook at the history of this country should provide a serious critique to the idea of a levelplaying field. Since the birth of this nation, Blacks have been enslaved, oppressed, andexploited people. Until 1954, when the Supreme Court handed down Brown v. Board,Blacks were legally pushed to the margin of society where many were left to dwell inpoverty and powerlessness. The Brown decision removed the legal impediments that hadso long kept Blacks in the impoverished peripheral. Despite this long awaited victory forBlack Americans, the historic decision failed to provide adequate means for thedeconstruction of White dominance and privilege, It merely allowed Blacks to enter thearena of competition. This recognized and established the status quo (White wealth andBlack indigence, White employment and Black unemployment, White opportunity andBlack disenfranchisement) as an acceptable and neutral baseline. Without thedeconstruction of White power and privilege, how can we legitimately claim that theplaying field is level? Does it not seem more logical and indeed fairer and more just, toactively deconstruct White privilege, rather than let it exist through hegemony?Another critique of affirmative action policies is that they stigmatize and call intoquestion the credentials...

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