If you're not a U.S. citizen, you may not have even heard the term "affirmative action" before, or if you have you may not understand what it means.

Basically, back in the heyday of the black civil rights movement, a set of laws were passed under the heading "Affirmative Action" designed to force businesses and institutions in the private sector to show that they weren't discriminating against blacks by enforcing hiring quotas, admission quotas, and so on.

Now that it's been shown that a black man can even rise to the office of the Presidency, many are wondering if it's time for the government to get out of the enforced equality business.

Some would even argue that AA is dysfunctional such that if one sees a black person in a responsible position they wonder whether they got the job fairly by deserving it or unfairly through AA.

Others would argue that all the AA hand-holding isn't even good for blacks seeking jobs, an education, and to belong to agencies having to justify their stats to AA bureaucrats. They argue that the time is ripe for minorities, but especially blacks, to sand on their own feet and without the crutch of AA.

What do you think?

Tags: action, affirmative

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  The question is whether, if we removed all affirmative action programs, a significant portion of the white "good ol' boy" plutocracy in certain segments of society, especially in the south, would revert to rampant discrimination.  My suspicion, given the relentless drive by Republicans to establish voting rights laws, which are clearly intended to suppress black voters, is that, in many locales, AA is still vital.

Well said Dale.

Affirmative Action is not a panacea.  It was meant to address entrenched racism and sexism that has existed for years. Over time, what was intended to be a meritocracy becomes corrupted as those at the top plot and connive to retain that hard fought status for themselves and their offspring.  The meritocracy, left alone, becomes a plutocracy or oligarchy. I would agree that AA has the unfortunate effect of alienating people who perceive they have become victims of social engineering.  That may be the necessary price we pay so that people aren't denied service at restaurants, as I was in the 1960's, because they are in the company of African Americans, or so that some marginally qualified folks can get decent jobs to improve the expectations of their children.  It is not ideal justice because it comes after the fact but it is a form of justice just the same. 

@ Dale,

Actually the question was:

Does AA do more harm then good?

I can't speak for private business. From my experience in a large agency,   I would have to say AA did more good than harm.  That should be qualified by by adding that a well designed AA program should expend its energy on recruitment and training and not in attempting to lower standards.  I remember railing against the AA program at one point for its inherent flaws which admittedly exist.  In hindsight however, the program was beneficial to the mission of the agency.  It helped create a more diverse and vibrant workforce.  Many of the AA people were of outstanding character and extremely competent.  We could not have succeeded as well without our women and minority coworkers.

As for how long these programs need to be in place, that will probably be up to the courts.  While few are ecstatic about quotas,  some oversight is needed to ensure a level playing field. 

What kind of agency? A travel or insurance agency or a government agency? BTW, I believe small businesses and agencies (below some number of employees) are exempt from AA.

It was a State agency that was initally under a court decree.  After a number of years and good faith efforts by the agency,  the Federal Judge recinded the decree.  The agency no longer had to fill positions with a set percentage of women or minorities but it continued to attempt to attract qualified candidates.  We maintained our standards which was difficult on many of the minority candidates who had been short-changed by the educational system in the urban areas of the state.

What is the point of hiring undereducated people? Especially when anyone who can put out the effort can, for example, get a GED or take remedial courses or get a college degree one course at a time? Clearly, people determined to put out the effort can improve themselves. Isn't that better than giving them duties they aren't as prepared for than other candidates for the same position?

The goal or assignment was to achieve diversity.  In order to best serve the public, the workforce should be representative of that public.  No one intended to hire undereducated people.  Standards were reasonable and defensible and applied equitably.  The fault, if there was one, was with the disparity in the school systems.  Initially only a HS diploma was required.  When that didn't screen out undereducated people, the standard was raised to 60 college credits or military service.  That worked much better. 

Btw Affirmative Action works against Indians/Asians now too in Colleges and hiring of jobs in Science, Math and Medical related fields

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is examining complaints that Harvard and Princeton have discriminated against Asian-American undergraduate applicants, highlighting a concern of many Asian-American parents.

Thomas J. Espenshade, a sociologist at Princeton and the author of “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College ...,” showed in his research that Asian-Americans needed SAT scores that were about 140 points higher than white students, all other quantifiable variables being equal, to get into elite schools.

Another study by the Center for Equal Opportunity, a nonprofit group opposed to racial preferences in college admissions, found that Asian-Americans at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, had median math and reading SAT scores of 1370 out of 1600, compared with 1340 for white students, 1250 for students of Hispanic descent and 1190 for black students.

http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/do-asian-americans-fa...

So now on top of it all, it also becomes who is AA really benefiting? I agree with both sides. Certain aspects of AA have become pointless but yet there are definitely other sides that are still needed in today's world

@ Adam,

I keep trying to understand the goal of AA, is it to remove discrimination from the society or to advantage some individuals over other individuals using claimed ethnicity as the reason for special privilege?

In my view a society that cannot provide an advanced education for all, should strive to provide that educational opportunity to those with the most promise to benefit the society with it.

In my view a society that cannot provide an advanced education for all

I don't know, that's pretty dangerous. That's how ignorant sheeples breed. Education should be for ALL. Everyone should have the right to an equal opportunity to education, not just only those who promise to benefit the society. The opportunity should be there for all.

I think Bill Clinton said it well at the 2012 DNC 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdphX4MNJJ4

certainly was no lack of diversity in electrical engineering. In my last year several times I was the only US citizen in my class, back in the 80's. I remember this one cute german girl. I sat next to her until i realized she was really stinky. Most of the instructors even had a hard time with english, but with math-based stuff, it's no big deal. I enjoy working with and meeting people from all over the world and i'd say AA has run its course in my profession.

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