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Affirmative action has been the subject of increasing debate and tension in our society. Affirmative action has divided political parties, communities and campuses across the nation. The basis behind affirmative action is that because of past discrimination and oppression, such as the unequal treatment of women, and the enslavement of African Americans, minorities and women have difficulty competing with their white male counterparts. Tax breaks for home buyers may not be wrong but what is wrong are those who take advantage of all kinds of breaks for themselves while denying affirmative action for the most oppressed of society. The government runs many programs to increase opportunities for various groups including women, racial and ethnic minority groups. Affirmative action is necessary to ensure the recruitment and employment of women, minorities, people with disabilities, and Vietnam veterans. Affirmative action is a term, which refers to a variety of efforts used by employers and educational institutions to overcome past and continuing discrimination in order to allow qualified women and minorities to compete equally for jobs, education, and promotional opportunities. When talking about affirmative action, there is a common misconception between meeting quota and satisfying goals. A quota is a number that must be achieved. Consequently, if a company fails to show it has made an effort toward following this quota the company can be fined. This is every different from an affirmative action goal. A goal is a flexible percentage, which is established by the company to achieve a diverse workforce. The percentage is based on the availability of minorities and females in the area. One of the goals is to make sure that many people are made aware of job openings as possible to ensure that the applicant pool is reflective of the number of people, who are qualified. To accomplish this, employers place advertisements in different types of journals, including journals for women and minorities. Goals and timetables encourage the hiring of members of women and minority groups. Before affirmative action, companies did not post their jobs on bulletin boards. Somebody just happened to know someone who needed a job and the job was filled. That person was not always the best-qualified person for the job. How can a company possibly tell if it is hiring the best people if they only consider a small portion of the population? One cannot assume that all the white males out there are naturally qualified and all the minorities and women are given breaks because they could not possibly be qualified. Affirmative action involves recruitment efforts to ensure that every applicant pool includes a diverse mix of people. Affirmative action programs in employment consist of posting and publicizing job notices in locations that are seem by a wide range of people. These programs do not reach out to unqualified individuals but instead are designed to increase the number of qualified applicants for employment. If among a list of finalists for a job there is a woman or a minority candidate, that candidate shall be chosen unless another candidate is prove to be better qualified. Critics attack affirmative action by assuming that it results in the hiring of less qualified minorities over more qualified whites. Affirmative action is not about less qualified workers, but about looking for employees in various places. Affirmative action used correctly only brings in qualified people. Nonetheless, there are instances when certain positions are given to minorities, but there are probably at least twice as many instances when minorities do not get jobs because they are minorities. Affirmative action brings in great workers who might have been otherwise overlooked. Minorities have the qualifications and are willing to work hard. All they need is the opportunity to show it. Affirmative action programs in contracting are often targeted for women-owned firms, minority-owned firms, or forms that show a disadvantage. Such programs are traditionally excluded. Affirmative action creates opportunities with contractors. The work comes through relationships but that first opportunity to build a relationship comes from affirmative action. Affirmative action in education can consist of early outreach programs, recruitment programs, efforts in admissions to diversify the student population, and specific financial aid opportunities. Contrary to common belief, affirmative steps are not limited to minorities. Colleges offer programs such as scholarship, tutoring, and outreach are targeted toward minority and women students. These colleges have been able to diversify and at the same time greatly strengthen the class academically. Graduation rates for minority students are rapidly increasing. The only effective way to address inequality of opportunity is by making sure that all children are provided with the same tools to compete in our society. Some feel that affirmative action plans increase reverse discrimination. Qualified white males are being passed over for promotion or a job because women or members of a minority have applied for the same job. The woman or a minority is hired not because they are qualified but because of affirmative action. One of the biggest complaints about affirmative action is that it is aimed at helping African Americans and that these programs give preferential treatment to undeserving minorities because of the color of their skin. What about athletes and legacy students who are given preferential treatment in university admission decisions on a yearly basis due to their white ancestry? Affirmative action cannot be reverse discrimination because it is not just for people of color. If a female is equally qualified then as an affirmative action effort, she should be hired. This is not preferential treatment. Another misconception about affirmative action is that they stigmatize and call into question the credentials of the qualified minorities. We hear a lot about so-called stigma of affirmative action for minorities and women. We are told that affirmative action harms the psyches of African Americans, Latinos, and women. For some reason, veterans are not stigmatized by the GI Bill and Europeans are not stigmatized by the Marshall plan. Why is it that only when the beneficiaries of affirmative action are women and people of color is there a stigma? Affirmative action gives minorities the opportunities to challenge stereotypes and stigmas. To be fair and equitable society, it is important that those who are disadvantages know there is equal opportunity for them to become the best they can be. This is exactly what affirmative action is all about. Giving to the disadvantages a little help to compete equally, recognize their potential, and give back to the community. Affirmative action working as it should, gives women and minorities greater equality and opportunity in a society that has so many inequalities. Our society must be persistent in our continuation to ensure equal opportunity for all. Learning about other groups and learning to work with a wide range of individuals is absolutely necessary for the survival of our society. Since we do not live in a color-blind society, affirmative action may reduce racial tension by forcing people to interact and work together. It is there to make things the way they should be: fair. Until someone comes up with a better system, or prejudices are eliminated, we will always need affirmative action. Bibliography WORKS CITED. 1. Rockwell, Paul, “Angry White Guys for Affirmative Action”, California, 1996. 2. Algeo C., “Affirmative Action”, California, 1996. 3. Hirsch, J., “Affirmative Action”, California, 1996. 4. Rockwell, Paul, “Four Affirmative Action Myths”, California, 1996. 5. Lewis, Brian C., “An Ethical and Practical Defense of Affirmative Action”, 1996. 6. Hill, John, “Affirmative Action: Roots to Success”, California, 1997. Word Count: 1181

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