Affirmative action debate
When they were first initiated, affirmative action policies were needed to address the discrimination faced by women and members of minority ethnic groups. These policies have enabled many people to secure better employment and educational opportunities. In their wake, however, affirmative action policies have also spawned criticisms of reverse discrimination, and given rise to charges that in the long run, these policies harm the people they were intended to help. This paper argues that while affirmative action policies were necessary in 1965, they are no longer appropriate in 2003. In fact, this paper presents arguments why affirmative action policies are ineffective in addressing the discrimination problems faced by African Americans, Latinos and other racial minorities. 1. Race is not a sharply-defined category. Many critics of affirmative action point to the problem of "racial boxing" that these policies inherently promote. Linda Chavez, for example, argues that race categories are arbitrary concepts, which are fluid and constantly redefined (Chavez 316). This problem is best illustrated in the arbitrary definitions of what constitutes being "Latino" or "H
Furthermore, professors like Carl Cohen of the University of Michiganpoints out that race-based admission policies that favor candidates basedonly on minority status place an undue burden -- on the student body as awhole and ultimately, and on the minority students themselves (Cohen 145). Conti and Stetson criticize the tendency to form automatic kinshipssimply based on skin color. Cohen argues that every time an unqualified minority student is throwninto the college pool, the resulting difficulties simply work to reinforcenegative racial stereotypes. Instead of fostering diversity andinteraction, the result is often distrust. Chavez thereforecriticizes political representatives who perpetuate the image of Latinos aspoverty-stricken victims rather than an upwardly-mobile ethnic group(Chavez 1996). "However, if the same person speaks fluent Spanish instead of fluid English,he automatically becomes "Hispanic. Kinghimself argued that people should be judged on their individual merit andcharacter. These policies havetainted the achievements of black and Latino individuals who have gainedeconomic and professional success through their own merit. " An Argentinean person of Spanishancestry, for example, would most likely be considered "Caucasian. By fostering an atmosphere of race-based promotion, affirmative actionpolicies also serve to minimize the individual gains that many AfricanAmericans, women and other minorities achieve on their own merit. Theimplication that many deserving Latino and African American students needaffirmative action to gain admission to prestigious universities is also aninsult to the many students work hard for their educational andprofessional advancement. This way, the system of racialpreferences can have long-term harmful effects when these students begintheir professional careers. Building on Chavez's argument, addressing inequality solely throughrace-based policies glosses over other forms of discrimination and economichardship.
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