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Affirmative action provides minority groups with an opportunity to have more power in the society. In fact, one can define it as the approach or action directed toward people who suffer from discrimination in the society. Among many issues, it refers to such aspects as education, race, and gender. However, it is necessary to emphasize that the affirmative action seeks to provide equality for the minority groups that were historically under pressure. The United States is a bright example of the nation that has a problem with the minority groups that often suffer from discrimination. Therefore, the U.S. policy aims at providing the non-discriminatory impact on the society. However, people have different views concerning the affirmative action. Some believe that it can be the source of equality while others are persuaded that it will lead to the contemporary unbalanced liberalism in the society. Nevertheless, despite such arguments, affirmative action remains a social and political act that has influenced both the African American and the white minorities in the United States.
Affirmative action has a long history dating back to the middle of the 19th century. It has arisen from such aspects as racial segregation in public schools and employment discrimination. When the Civil War has ended in 1865, the African Americans rights were secured by the U.S. Constitutions 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments (Sterba, 2004). Therefore, the first phase of the affirmative action was the mainstream of the African Americans in the American society. The first stage of the affirmative action development culminated in less than one decade due to the negotiations between the Southern politicians and Northern Congressmen that led to the federal protection withdrawal in 1877, which ensured the freedmens rights (Sterba, 2004). The second phase of the affirmative action began in 1941 because of two geographically separate events. One of them was the Julius Rosenwald Fund study that concluded that the lack of the African American professors had become a real problem for universities and colleges. To change the situation, the Fund offered to pay the salaries of prospective African-American professionals if the institutions hired them. However, only two persons were hired. The second event concerned the meeting between President Roosevelt and several leaders of the civil rights movements. The meeting was associated with the March on Washington, which symbolized the protest against the discrimination in hiring practices in defense plans that were prepared for the World War production. In response, President Roosevelt issued the Executive Order 8802 that prohibited the discrimination based on nationality, color, race, and creed in any industry. The Fair Employment Practice Committee was involved as the agency that was responsible for the investigation of racial discrimination complaints. In 1954, the affirmative action was marked by a great example when the Supreme Court made an important decision about educational opportunities and race in the Brown v. The Board of Education case. The decision prohibited racial segregation in schools, and the minorities were provided with an opportunity to attend the same public schools as whites (Woodhouse, 2002). No other governmental initiatives were taken until President Kennedy issued the executive order in 1961 that required the affirmative action with specific sanctions and guidelines. As a result, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that served as the enforcement agency was created to focus on the contract cancellation and possible noncompliant contractors debarments. Passed in 1964, the Civil Rights Act had to deal with employment discrimination based on nationality, race, religion, and color in public and private institutions. In 1972, the Education Amendments introduced gender as the protected category and denied gender-based benefits in the educational programs. Such action provoked different reactions and opposite points of view (Woodhouse, 2002). At the same time, the affirmative action in China appeared in 1949 and transformed into the explicit policy in the 1980s. It was based on such three principles as languages and cultures equality, territorial autonomy, and national minorities equality. The Chinese preferential policy provided the minorities with infrastructure subsidies from the higher jurisdiction. It was the major tool to decrease the social and economic gaps between the minorities and Han (Sautman, 2010). In general, the affirmative action in China focuses on family planning, employment, education, business development, and political representation. In Canada, the affirmative action is associated with the employment area. The employment equity began from the 1984 Abella Commission that was led by Rosalie Abella. She decided to replace the affirmative action definition of the employment equity. Mainly her report has become the basis for the Employment Equity Act issued in 1986 and later amended by the Employment Equity Act in 1995 (Sautman, 2010). The major value of this act was expanding employment opportunities to disabled citizens and minorities.
The affirmative action plays a critical role in enhancing the well-being of the African Americans and the white minorities. Particularly, it promotes equality and protects the African Americans and white minorities against discrimination. It can be expressed in providing equal employment and educational opportunities. Workplace discrimination is still a problem and half of African Americans remain unemployed in comparison with whites (Pager & Shepherd, 2008). However, significant changes were made, and the affirmative action helped employers and employees to ensure diversity in the workplace, which is helpful in the effective competing in the international and multicultural business environment. Due to the provided opportunities for education and employment, the affirmative action allowed the poor to live different lives. Moreover, it can reveal the minorities potential that can be hidden because of the economic efficiency. Hence, the affirmative action in employment involves the recruitment of the minorities and women in the work areas where traditionally men are dominating. The same strong influence the affirmative action has on education. Due to it, the diversity is strongly promoted while segregation is forbidden (Wasson, 2007). Another argument for the affirmative action is that it enhances the diversity in the entire local and corporate world. The main point is that the affirmative action contributes to national unity in the local and international community and, consequently, such multicultural state as the United States can act as a common organization (Gibelman, 2015). It means eliminating discrimination with the help of public policies and initiatives that help people not to be judged based on their gender, color, nationality, location, race, and origin. By relying on the promotion of this idea, it is possible to unify the nation on the local and international levels because, in the multiculturalism conditions, it is the only way to become a strong state with a strong common nation. Furthermore, the affirmative action helps in creating innovation and invention both in the education and the corporate world. As a result, it helps to deal with discrimination and contributes to the fair treatment of people despite their race, gender, and color. Moreover, due to it, it is possible to pursue the adaptive and innovative performance in the corporate and educational sectors that would respond to the changing economic and social environment. Diverse approaches to the problem solving can assist in finding a creative and innovative solution to the related areas. It is critical to understand that the tensions concerning the affirmative action in the dynamic and complex world can be a source of a conflict and innovation. Another positive factor is that the affirmative question can be considered a way to compensate the African Americans for the suffering they had to go through during the years of oppression. In particular, it was considered a way to end the historical form of injustices. Most African-Americans are descendants of slaves who worked on the Southern plantations. After the American Civil War, following their emancipations, they were discriminated in colleges, schools, and the workplace. Therefore, after the affirmative action became the law, such event became the begging of the fight against the discrimination on all levels (White, 2002). Hence, the main affirmative actions justification was the atonement for the past mistakes or the public apology for such crimes as segregation, slavery, as well as womens marginalization and mistreatment. At the same time, the affirmative action displays the governments commitment to justice for all. With the ethic and moral development of the society, the new demands made the government take a new look at the entrenched values. The main goal of the government was to protect women and minorities from discrimination in the educational and employment areas.
However, despite many pros, there are some arguments about the disadvantages of the affirmative action. One of the arguments is that the affirmative action is a reverse form of discrimination that goes against the law of the United States that says that all people are equal. The reaction of the society to the affirmative policy in education and employment has worsened the general social environment. Many people believed that the affirmative policy instituted racial discrimination. The reverse discrimination can be defined as the unequal treatment of the majority groups as the result of the preferential minorities policy. The reverse discrimination became well known in the 1970s (Wasson, 2007). Another argument against the affirmative action is the idea that it leads to the destruction of the meritocratic ideology. The major part of the meritocracy is an equal opportunity. However, the affirmative action is opposite to this ideology because of the provided preferences to the minorities. Such attitude also provoked some negative reaction of the society because the minorities were hired or accepted in the universities only because of the provided preferences, but not real skills and abilities. People believed that after some time such policy would destroy the meritocracy because people must be valued due to their real talents and professional skills. Moreover, another negative feature associated with the affirmative action is that it strengthened stereotypes and racism emanating from past events (Wasson, 2007). Rather than creating racial diversity, the affirmative action and preference policies often led to the stigmatize minorities, undermined beneficiaries self-confidence, and reinforced pernicious stereotypes because of the mismatch. The mismatch is the tendency of large preferences to hurt the intended beneficiaries. The preferences often put people in the environment where they could not learn, compete, and work effectively. Hence, in this situation the affirmative action only put an emphasis on racism and discrimination.
Overall, it is critical to notice that the affirmative action effectively dealt with discrimination based on color, race, nationality, and gender in the employment and educational areas. It has a long history and it is well known around the world because of the promoted diversity and equal rights. As the affirmative action has both pros and cons, it is difficult to say whether this is a good or wrong policy due to various factors. However, its impact on the society, especially African Americans and the minorities, is evident.
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