Affirmative Action Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1245 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Race

Affirmative Action

Over the past several decades, the issue of Affirmative Action in the United States has taken many turns as a result of legal cases, academic research, and public opinion. In this essay, these and other facets of this topic will be presented and discussed.

Supreme Court Decisions on Affirmative Action

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The Supreme Court of the United States has set legal precedent in many areas of Affirmative Action as a direct result of rulings that the highest court in America has made in specific cases. Among these cases, there were two University of Michigan cases in 2003 that are still cited as legal landmarks. The first, Gratz v. Bollinger, struck down the university's Affirmative Action policy which gave every minority student an additional 20 points on an entrance exam which only required the attainment of 100 points to be admitted to the school itself. Specifically, the Court stated that this system of free points took away the ability to assess each applicant individually. Ironically, in the same decision, the Court upheld University of Michigan's overall Affirmative Action policy in Grutter v. Bollinger; the overall policy of the school used minority status as a "plus" in the individual's application, but did not allow for the race of the individual to be used as a shield against being measured against other candidates for admission. Specifically, the Court proclaimed that "race or ethnic background may be deemed a "plus" in an applicant's file, yet it does not insulate the individual from comparison with other candidates." The Court also cited the "compelling" interest that the University of Michigan has in making racial diversity possible on their campus. As a general statement, Supreme Court members in the past have been quoted as saying that Affirmative Action will be unneeded in about 25 years.

Backward Looking vs. Forward Looking Justifications for Affirmative Action

TOPIC: Term Paper on Affirmative Action Over the Past Several Decades, Assignment

When discussing the justifications for Affirmative Action, there are sources that identify a Backward Looking as well as Forward Looking viewpoint. Presenting and discussing the two provides a look into the heart of the debate over Affirmative Action itself. The Backward Looking view holds that Affirmative Action is designed to function by lowering standards for hiring, job promotions and educational opportunities for minorities, women and others. Conversely, the Forward Thinking view supports the creation of more racial diversity by breaking down the stereotypes about different minority groups and creating successful minority role models to advance opportunities for minorities. In general, the Forward Thinking is the more progressive of the two perspectives.

Statistical Evidence of Present Day Discrimination Against Black Americans

For all of the legal and ethical debate over Affirmative Action and discrimination, there is also statistical evidence which clearly shows that in the 21st century, decades after the most heated civil rights battles, discrimination still affects black Americans today. One of the most interesting pieces of documented evidence to support the argument of modern day discrimination comes from the Urban Institute, which proved in a real-life experiment that resulted in white males being offered jobs 45% more frequently than black males, when both applied for the same exact position, with both having the same qualifications, physical attributes (other than race) and answering interview questions the same way.

Another piece of compelling statistical evidence of discrimination against blacks, particularly in the area of job opportunity comes from the hiring records of the Memphis Fire Department, which show that between 1950 and 1976, the department hired 1,683 white employees but only 94 blacks, an overwhelming disparity to say the least. Finally, in 1993, the San Jose Mercury News reported that Shoney's Restaurant chain used color-coded job applications to clearly indicate which job applicants were black. In turn, the black workers were given jobs in areas… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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