Essay: Assessment of Affirmative Action

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This essay is on assessment of affirmative action. Affirmative action proved to be one of the most contentious social topics of the 20th century. But while many states are curtailing and even eliminating affirmative action programs at the beginning of this new millennium, the fundamental problems that affirmative action was meant to address.

Affirmative action proved to be one of the most contentious social topics of the 20th century. But while many states are curtailing and even eliminating affirmative action programs at the beginning of this new millennium, the fundamental problems that affirmative action was meant to address – the unequal treatment of people not because of their talents or characters but because of the sex or race – remain. And while affirmative action is clearly not an answer to all of society’s ills, even in the area of race relations, it is certainly worth still considering as a way to alleviate some of the problems that stem from social bias.

We should perhaps define affirmative action – for the term has been somewhat loosely used to describe a range of programs. Affirmative action is the favoring of women and racial minorities in various aspects of society to compensate for past injustices against them as well as to compensate for the continuing barriers that they face not as individuals judged on their own merits but as members of groups that are discriminated against by those who hold economic and cultural power in our nation.

Affirmative action as a legally recognized entity was born in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s when it became increasingly clear that formal legal protections would be to safeguard the rights of social minorities. Indeed, affirmative action was seen as a way to help social minorities and the rest of American society go beyond this level so that those groups in society that had suffered past discrimination would be given a helping hand.

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