Arguments For and Against Affirmative Action

"The difficulty of overcoming the effects of past discrimination is as nothing compared with the difficulty of eradicating from our society the source of those effects, which is the tendency -- fatal to a Nation such as ours -- to classify and judge men and women on the basis of their country of origin or the color of their skin. A solution to the first problem that aggravates the second is no solution at all."
-Justice Scalia's judgement in the case City of Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co.: January 23, 1989


Arguments FOR Affirmative Action:
A short essay which contains the typical arguments for affirmative action

Arguments AGAINST Affirmative Action:
  • Affirmative action is reverse discrimination. The past discrimination against certain minority groups does not justify present discrimination against non-minorities. All people are equal under the laws of the United States of America and should be treated accordingly.
  • It destroys the idea of a meritocracy and instead puts race as the dominant factor in admissions and hiring procedures. The best people for the position should be put there, regardless of race.
  • Students/workers who are put into a position through affirmative action often are not fully ready for the task. Not only is this not good for the university/company, but it is also not good for these students/workers as well because it lowers self-esteem.
  • Affirmative action reinforces stereotypes and racism because of the previous point. People given a position purely because of affirmative action often are not qualified, and the idea that all people of that race must be "stupid" is perpetuated. Also, it presupposes that all people of the same skin color are from the lower class, and therefore need help. This also reinforces stereotypes and even embeds them permanently into the system.
  • Simply having people of different races or ethnicities in the workplace/university does not necessarily mean diversity of opinion. People with the same skin color are not necessarily the same in opinion or even culture.

A short article containing a typical argument against affirmative action.

The Government:

The Government on the whole, however, has maintained a position somewhere in the middle. On the one hand, the Supreme Court has banned the use of strict quotas in universities. However, affirmative action still remains a policy supported by the Federal Government and legal everywhere except for California and Texas, where other policies have been adopted. Still, the debate continues on how we as an American society can truly embrace diversity.