- Evaluate the positive and negative effects of Affirmative Action in the United States. Target current issues, trends, and demographics.
Affirmative action involves the development of policies to promote equality among the minorities including racial groups and women.
On the one hand, affirmative action ensures that minorities have more access to vital resources including employment opportunities, education, healthcare, and finance. For example, during the admission to colleges, affirmative action allows minority races such as blacks and Hispanics to overcome background challenges and improves the student diversity. Minorities have high poverty rates compared to whites which affects their access to quality education. Subsequently, minority groups have a low rate of college graduation and deserve special treatment. For instance, blacks have the highest poverty level at 26.2% compared to the national average of 14% and 11% for white Americans (DeNvas-Walt and Bernadette, 2015). Therefore, African Americans are a disadvantaged minority group. Furthermore, women are victims of gender bias in the access to employment opportunities, workplace treatment, and wages. At firms with discriminative gender policies, fewer women rise to managerial positions and usually earn less than men in the same job category (Janssen, Tuor Sartore, & Backes-Gellner, 2016). Thus, affirmative action is necessary to protect women and racial minorities from social inequality forces.
On the other hand, however, affirmative action promotes reversed discrimination or a situation where deserving persons are denied opportunities to fill positions even when possessing the required qualification (Cahn, 2013). Moreover, it can create stigmata mainly for women climbing the corporate ladder. In this case, career or social progression for women will not be viewed as an outcome of hard work. Their gender and often race will become the main explanation for their achievements which subjects them to psychological stress. Therefore, affirmative action does not always address discrimination issues in the society but also serves as an agent of discrimination.
Currently, more institutions including colleges are offering special opportunities for minorities to close the gap with whites. However, affirmative action is likely to come under increased scrutiny as some groups feel discriminated. For example, in the Fisher versus the University of Texas lawsuit, the Supreme Court ruled that the University had a right to selective and preferential admissions to maintain diversity at the school (Liptak, 2016). The Supreme Court ruling starts a new battle but also shows the strength and acceptance of affirmative action.
- Discuss the concept of equality. Do you see equality happening in our society? Why or why not? Describe your personal observations of inequality.
Social equality is a phenomenon, according to which all people have equal rights and privileges. The elements of social equality include the right to vote, gender equality, freedom of speech and racial equality. In an equal society, all people regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation have equal opportunities (Henslin, 2011). However, social equality is not always practiced in the society. Rather than that, social stratification is more visible mainly based on race and wealth.
Ideas of equality are popular in the society. The community has through legislations attempted to create social equality in fields such as education, housing, and healthcare. For example, a person with a health insurance has access to quality healthcare regardless of the race or status. Another example is the Supreme Court that ruled that the University of Texas had a right to preferential admission based on race factor to promote institutional diversity (Liptak, 2016).
Still, social inequality is visible in every part of the society. Experience and observations include women who are treated as second-class citizens and those dependent on men. Historically, the women role was connected with the care for family and bringing up children. Social inequality denies women’s access to education, economic and political rights and opportunities. Apart from that, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation also form the basis for social inequality and discrimination. African Americans often face racial discrimination starting from the enslavement age and limiting access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. Finally, gays and lesbians are subjected to social stigma and victimization based on their sexual orientation.