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Argument Against Affirmative Action

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The Constitution of the United States of America states that all people are created equal, and that is how all Americans should be treated.  Affirmative action has long since served a good purpose in American society.  In today’s day and age, affirmative action discriminates against more people than it actually helps.  It appears to take advantage of hard-working Americans who are not protected under its umbrella.  Affirmative action is the country’s attempt to remedy its history of racial discrimination; but in today’s society, it seems to incite rather than ease the nation’s racial divisions.

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Affirmative action is the government’s solution for trying to make up for unjust treatment to certain races in the past and also to attempt to create equal opportunities for certain races.  It is impossible to give reparations to certain groups solely based on their race for injustices set upon their ancestors in the past without offending the majority of other races. Also, affirmative action was designed to decrease racism in schools and jobs by providing otherwise unavailable access to social networks.

  Now that this access has been established,  it is time for affirmative action to end. (Galston)

There appears to be several large holes in this action.  If the government were able to give compensation to races whose ancestors suffered in the past due to the government’s actions (e.g. internment of Asians during WWII, and allowing slavery in the 1800s), it cannot merely give these to any member of that race.  For example, millions of immigrants migrated to this country after these events occurred.  This suggests that the government is giving special treatment to immigrants who were never mistreated by our government.   The government should not be giving these special privileges to any person that just steps foot into this country.

            This is where members of races who are not protected under affirmative action get taken advantage of.  (Grapes 47)

Affirmative action is a nice way in which to say discrimination.  It fits the definition exactly in that it gives preference to some individuals and therefore the disfavoring of others.  Affirmative action is based entirely on one’s race and not one’s abilities.  It’s ironic how the government frowns upon racism but condones a program which gives special privileges to certain races. Two wrongs do not make a right.  “It is morally wrong for the government to treat people on the basis of race.”  (Messereli)

The government is sending mixed messages in its philosophy that racism is a very bad thing.  On one hand the government stresses that racism is bad but, at the same time, condones it by allowing affirmative action to take place in this great nation. This poses a great problem in society.  People not covered under affirmative action who have made it through an institution of higher education are coming out of college and having trouble finding work suited for their level of knowledge.  This is partly due to the fact that businesses have to hire a percentage of minorities, and there are simply just not enough spots open for these unprotected college students.  Now these students, who are trying to pay off student loans, are having to settle for lower paying jobs for which they are over qualified.  (Keys)

Affirmative action promotes racism. It promotes racism from non-minorities when minorities are given opportunities based solely on their race. This is another example of how affirmative action does the opposite of what it is supposed to do.  (Grapes 48)

            Under Affirmative Action, colleges and other places of higher education are given a quota of how many minority students must attend their institutions.  This is not fair to the colleges as it may place some unreasonable restrictions on recruitment during the admissions process.  College admissions representatives must now, in addition to the other qualifying standards, factor in the race of the students applying instead of looking at their academics, personal achievements, and quality of work the student will afford the institution. Additionally, this creates reverse prejudices against the people who are not covered under the umbrella of affirmative action.  These quotas are allowing people into schools based predominantly on their race.  Oftentimes the minority students that are accepted are less qualified than the people who are not covered under affirmative action.  One’s race has as much to do with their level of intelligence as their hair or eye color.  (Messereli)

The national average of blacks who graduate from college with a degree is very low.  Only forty percent of them actually graduate.  This means that less than half of all black college students will graduate with a degree.  The graduation rate for non-minorities is sixty-one percent.  This poses a problem.  Just because affirmative action allows more minorities into college it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will graduate.  Furthermore, it discriminates against non-minority students.  Minority students are accepted into these schools where sixty percent of the time they don’t graduate.  This is taking away the spots of non-minority students who sixty-one percent of the time graduate.  This makes very little sense at all.  (Edwards)

            Affirmative Action can also hurt minorities, however.  Many times, since schools need to accept a certain number of minorities, colleges admit students who have lower GPAs and SAT scores than the norm of that school.  This often puts the minorities at a disadvantage because they are expected to maintain the high standards of the college, which leads to an increase in the failure rate.  For example, in the 1980s at the University of California at Berkeley the number of black students on campus didn’t translate into a comparable number of black students graduating.  It would be like putting a minor league player into the pros and expect him to excel at batting clean-up.  (Grapes 72-73)

In many Ivy league schools the average GPA for non-minority students they were accepting was a 4.0 and a 1300 on the SAT.  The average for the minority students they were accepting was below a 3.0 GPA and less than 1000 on the SAT.  Standards are supposed to be set to push students to do better.  It makes little sense to lower the bar just because of a person’s skin color.  Further, it lowers the level of accountability for these students.  This is another example of how affirmative action hurts the hard-working man or woman.  (Grapes 73)

At the University of Colorado, the test scores between black students and white students were very different.  The test score differences between black and white students were more than 200 points.  This translated into only 39 percent of the black students graduating whereas the number of white students graduating was 72 percent.  At the University of Colorado at Denver, the SAT score only varied by about 30 points between white students and black students.  The graduation rate of black students translated into 50 percent and the white students 48 percent.  (Sowell)

The United States of America does not need affirmative action.  This has been proven in the two states in which it was banned in colleges.  When affirmative action was outlawed in California and Texas, there was excessive bashing in the media.  They thought that it would keep minorities out of college when, in fact, the opposite happened.  There are now more minorities enrolled in college than there were during the days of affirmative action.  (Sowell)

Also, it is condescending to minorities.  Many times people look down on minorities’ achievements because they believe that they only got to where they are because of their skin color.  This makes it very difficult for minorities to ever validate their achievements.  If someone were to ask Colin Powell if the reason he got to where he is today was because of affirmative action, he would likely be very offended.  (Messereli)

            Affirmative Action doesn’t only discriminate in admissions to college, but it also discriminates in the working world.  Just as quotas are set for colleges, quotas are set for employers.  Many times employers have to settle for less qualified workers so that they can meet the quotas set by the government.  For example, say a fireman is teamed with a  less qualified minority  partner because the fire department has to hire a specific amount of minorities.   Not only is this unfair, but it is extremely dangerous, both to the fireman and any victims that he or she needs to rescue. Also, in society, non-minorities who already hold positions lose their jobs to minorities so that the employer can meet his quota. “ Ethnic origins should never be a substitute for minimal qualifications for a competitive effort.”   (Galston)

The most common argument for affirmative action is that it makes up for injustices done in the past.  This argument makes no sense at all.  How can someone compensate for another’s injuries by giving compensation to people in today’s world who never suffered from those injuries in the past?  There would be little to no argument if the government had decided to give reparations to those people who had actually suffered those injuries.  (Grapes 48)

            Unfortunately, as stated above, affirmative action promotes reverse discrimination.  Basically reverse discrimination is the condition under which there is preferential treatment of one group (minorities and women) over another group, rather than equal opportunity. Giving the job positions to less qualified candidates is favoritism; this harms those who should be obtaining the job position.  A dedicated person who worked hard his or her whole life could lose a position to a minority that slipped into the position undeservingly. The whole purpose of affirmative action was to eliminate favoritism; instead it shifts favoritism to the other side. Favoritism of this sort does nothing but imply that minorities need special treatment to succeed in life. Highly merited minorities (past professors) have told me personally that minorities do not need special treatment; they need equal treatment. They (past professors) told me that affirmative action implies that all minorities are inferior to whites and that minorities need to be treated with special care just to have a chance to become successful.  The affirmative action program also undermines their (past professors) achievements of minorities by implying that their positions were handed to them rather than being earned.  It seems that they also disagree with affirmative action in today’s world.

Affirmative action in collegiate admissions has proven to be one of the most controversial issues of the era.  In this area both minorities and non-minorities are discriminated against, when affirmative action was in use the admissions board was divided into two groups one for minorities and another for non-minorities, standards for both groups were different. Once again affirmative action is showing favoritism. A recent example of affirmative action in collegiate admissions includes Gratz and Hamacher vs. University of Michigan. Gratz and Hamacher alleged that unlawful preference to minorities in University of Michigan undergraduate admissions.  This also reminds me of when I was a senior in high school, several black colleges wanted me to come to there school to play football on a scholarship. What they did not tell me was that I would receive a minority scholarship not a football scholarship.  Basically they found a loophole; they could recruit white players and give them minority scholarships and still have the same number of football scholarships to give out. They were getting a two for one deal by improving their number of minority (white students) students and getting football players at the same time.

Affirmative action has a huge negative impact on our economy; it is costly and could destroy the legitimacy of minorities.  In the business world, the main concern of an employer should be to hire the most qualified person that will increase productivity. The concern should not be to hire a racially diverse workforce.  How can the most qualified person for the job be hired if the hiring is done on race rather than merit? It makes no sense. Hiring on something rather than merit may result in economic hardship and a less qualified staff. If minorities have a qualified resume and are available, they will meet the criteria of the employer and will be hired on merit and not on diversifying the company. Giving unqualified minorities employment simply treats the symptoms.

Affirmative action also promotes racial preference.  Racial preferences are founded on the proposition that the achievements of their beneficiaries would be fewer if the preferences did not exist. Racial preferences should be insulting to all minorities; no minority is inferior to any white and neither is a female to any male.  Only by eliminating race-based preferences can America reach the ideas set forth by Martin Luther King Jr.  King hated for his children to be judged for the color of their skin instead of their character.  How would he see affirmative action in 2004? I believe that he would say affirmative action does not solve discrimination problems in the workplace; it just hinders the problems. Everything Martin Luther King Jr. worked for and fought for is being destroyed by affirmative action.

As stated earlier, affirmative action was put into use during the 1960’s.  The Civil Rights movement of 1964 emphasized the program.  During that era, discrimination among minorities and women was extremely high and there were many barriers.  The main goal of affirmative action was to give minorities and women an equal opportunity at employment.  This was understandable in the 60’s and 70’s, but not today.  Management’s main concern is the shareholders.  You cannot please the shareholders if your company is not performing at its potential, the most qualified person must be hired regardless of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  This should please everyone because it is what minorities’ want and what Corporate America deserves: equal treatment.

Affirmative action was designed to end discrimination and unfair treatment of employees and/or students based on color.  In reality, it does the exact opposite.  Many times in society, non-minorities who have demonstrated that they work harder and are more qualified for a position are simply overlooked based on their race.  This is a prime example of how affirmative action takes advantage of the members of the hard-working population.  People need to be rewarded for hard work rather than one’s skin color and not be penalized because of their skin color.  In an effort to create a more “color blind” society, affirmative action needs to end.  (Hartung)

Lincoln stated that “all men are created equal”; hence, all men should be treated equally and not based on the color of their skin. Our nation was built on a foundation of hard work made up of people with diverse backgrounds. From youth, it has been ingrained in the minds of Americans that hard work will result in better opportunities.  The efforts put forth by any individual should be rewarded based on his or her skills and not skin color.  Affirmative action places too much emphasis on one’s race, which in return creates a larger gap in the racial divisions.

Works Cited

Edwards, William.  “The Persisting Racial Gap in College Student Graduation Rate”. 4 April 2004.  The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.  20 February 2007.


Galston, William.  “An Affirmative Action Status Report:Evidence and Options”. 20 February 2007.

Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy.  20 February 2007. www.puaf.umd.edu/IPPP/1QQ.htm

Grapes, Bryan, J.  Affirmative Action.  Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Hartung, Richard.  “Is Affirmative Action Racist?”  19 January 2004.  Center for the Study of Alternate Futures.  20 February 2007.www.csaf.org/racist.htm

Keys, Matthew.  “True Discrimination: Affirmative Action”.  22 February 2005.  Change for America.  20 February 2007. www.changeforamerica.com/community/node/2654

Messereli, Joe.  “Should Affirmative Action Policies Be Eliminated?”  6 January 2005. Balanced Politics.  20 February 2007. www.balancedpolitics.org/affirmative_action.html

Sowell, Thomas.  “Affirmative Action” and Graduation Rates”.  4 June 2002.  Capitalism Archives.  20 February 2007. http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?id=1635

Cite this Argument Against Affirmative Action

Argument Against Affirmative Action. (2016, Jul 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/argument-against-affirmative-action/

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